NEW YORK: Over the first nine days of the Beijing Olympics US broadcast giant NBC Universal's coverage of the Games netted 191 million viewers. On Saturday, the most-viewed night, no fewer than 31.1m people tuned into to the channel's Olympic broadcast – its largest audience since 1990.

Whoops NBC Sports and Olympics chairman Dick Ebersol: "The mystery of China combined with the unbelievable phenomenon of [US swimmer] Michael Phelps, the terrific performances by gymnasts Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson and defending Olympic gold medalists Misty May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh at beach volleyball have captivated the imagination of the country."

What's more, the record audiences will have contributed handsomely to NBC's ad coffers – a fair return on its total nine-year Olympics investment, struck in June 2003, of $2.201 billion (€1.494bn; £1.178bn), including $2.001bn in TV rights.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff