US & World

London 2012 games set a viewership record, at 219.4 million

Spectators watch from the stands during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England.
Spectators watch from the stands during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England.
Michael Regan/Getty Images

It's nearly time to extinguish The Torch, and end our marathon of Olympic coverage. Before we do, we must note that the games have now become the most-watched television event in U.S. history, with a total of 219.4 viewers over 17 days of coverage.

Those high ratings push the London Games past Beijing 2008, which held the previous record of 215 million viewers. The number seems to include only NBC's TV audience, not mobile or online.

The high ratings came despite vocal critics of NBC's coverage, and its decision to time-delay its broadcast of some of the Olympics' biggest events instead of covering them live on television.

The network provided online streaming of all but one event — the opening ceremony — but many U.S. viewers have been angry that the online stream from NBC, which is owned by cable giant Comcast, required a subscription to cable or satellite TV.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.