NEW YORK (AP) — NBC is predicting strong interest in the London Olympics among television viewers, but said Wednesday the event probably won't scale the heights of the Beijing Games four years ago.
The 2008 Olympics stands as the most-watched event in U.S. television history on NBC and its cable networks, with an average of 27.7 million people who saw the prime-time telecast over 17 nights on NBC.
"I would love to match those numbers," said Mark Lazarus, NBC Sports Group chairman. "I think that's an unlikely scenario."
NBC noted there was a lot of interest in China to go along with the games, and a buzzed-about opening ceremony in 2008 averaged 34.2 million viewers. That set the 2008 games off on a solid start, and swimmer Michael Phelps' gold medal haul kept interest up.
A total of 215 million people in the United States watched some of the Beijing Games, Nielsen said. Top NBC researcher Alan Wurtzel said he expected the London Games to be one of the five most popular TV events on U.S. television, which would put its cumulative total of viewers around the 200 million mark.
"London is going to be huge," he said.
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