NBC boasts record viewership for the Olympics -- More than 203 million watched at least some of the games, which won every primetime half-hour for 17 nights

By Gary Susman
Updated August 31, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

NBC Universal is giving itself a big gold medal for the Nielsen ratings it scored over the course of the Athens Olympics. The media conglomerate boasts that more than 203 million viewers watched at least some of its coverage, beating the record of 194 million for a non-U.S. Olympics (set during the Seoul games in 1988) and far outstripping the 185 million who watched the Sydney games in 2000.

Of course, with its purchase of Universal, NBC has two more cable channels than it did four years ago. With newcomers Bravo and USA supplementing CNBC and MSNBC, the company was able to air 1,200 hours of Olympic programming, three times as much as in 2000, and at least 69 million viewers watched the cable coverage alone.

But even without cable, the Olympics would have proved a winner for NBC’s primetime network schedule. The broadcast network’s Olympic coverage was the most-watched program for every single half-hour of primetime programming for 17 straight days. Now, whether it can get any of those 203 million to tune in to watch ”Father of the Pride” is another story?