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'08 Sets Records for Sports Viewing

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NEW YORK Was 2008 the best sports year ever?  At least in terms of viewer interest, there's plenty of evidence to support that argument, according to Nielsen data.

Consider these TV sports highlights from 2008:

-The most-watched global event ever (2008 Beijing Summer Olympics: 4.7 billion viewers)
-The most-watched Super Bowl ever (Giants-Patriots, Super Bowl XLII: 97.5 million viewers)
-The most-watched cable broadcast of all time (Cowboys-Eagles, Monday Night Football: 18.6 million viewers)
-The most-watched cable golf event of all time (Woods-Mediate, U.S. Open Playoff: 4.8 million viewers)
-The most-watched cable baseball game ever (Red Sox-Rays, ALCS Game 7: 13.4 million viewers)
-The most-watched NBA Finals in five years (Celtics-Lakers, NBA Championship Series average: 14.9 million viewers)
-The most-watched NHL regular season game in nine years; most-watched finals in five years (Winter Classic: 2.5 million viewers; Stanley Cup, Penguins-Red Wings average: 4.5 million viewers)
-The most-watched Wimbledon final in eight years (Federer-Nadal: 5.2 million viewers)

The surge in viewership could be attributed to the dramatic stories behind these games and events, but Nielsen's analysis shows that new technology is enhancing the sports fan's experience:

-Ratings for sports events are 20 percent higher in homes with high-definition TV sets vs. total U.S.
-75 million people visited sports Web sites in October 2008.
-11.6 million unique users logged more than 1.2 billion minutes on fantasy sports sites in 2008.
-10.6 million U.S. mobile subscribers accessed sports content via the mobile Web in August 2008.

Adweek is a unit of the Nielsen Co.