US broadcast TV network NBC went for viewership gold in this year's Olympic Games – and appears already to have won.

The first four days of coverage saw NBC reach viewing levels of 142m, 15m more than for the same period in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. NBC's cable viewing figures also performed well, with 32m tuning in to the early Games broadcasting.

Figures from Nielsen Media Research show NBC recorded a fifth day coverage rating (a percentage of all US TV households) of 18.2 and an overall share (percentage of TV households with TV sets on at a given time) of 30.

On Tuesday night, the network also boasted the best half-hour for Olympic broadcasts since Atlanta's Games of 1996, with a 20.8 rating and a 38 share.

And the winning streak is good news for advertisers, whose guaranteed household rating of 15.3 has already been beaten during the third and fourth days of coverage.

This year's Olympic broadcasting is also reaching a more desirable audience in terms of advertising targets. According to media planning group Zenith Media's vp and director of national broadcast research, Roy Rothstein, the choice 18–49 age group viewing figures are 3% higher than for Sydney's Games.

Communications agency Carat's vp and director of programming Shari Anne Brill attributed the success to improvements in production and technology, allowing alternative camera angles. However, she cautioned against assuming the high viewing figures will last for the duration of the Olympics: "A lot will depend on whether the U.S. stays in the medal contention or if there's a really good scandal."

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff