On a night when Michael Phelps won his unprecedented 22nd gold medal, it was two Americans named Simone who delivered the emotional stories of the day. Simone Biles, the Team USA gymnast, proved she may be the greatest gymnast ever, taking home the gold in the women's all-around. And 16-year-old Simone Manuel won gold in a thrilling—and rare—tie in the women's 100-meter freestyle.
With Phelps and Biles on tap, there was no shortage of interest in how things would play out, and NBC reaped the benefits, posting a 20.4 overnight rating in prime time, the second best overnight so far in the Rio games, after Saturday night when NBC delivered 29.8 million total viewers. Thursday's ratings easily outpaced the rest of the broadcast competition, quadrupling the ratings of CBS, ABC and Fox combined. NBC's 10.7 rating among Adults 18-49 was even more of a blowout, 6 times greater than the other broadcast networks combined (1.7).
Golf returned to the Olympics, and coverage on NBC's Golf Channel averaged .36 overnight, an increase of +500 percent compared to the 2012 London Games.
Top local markets for NBC Thursday night included Salt Lake City (25.8), Indianapolis (24.7), Columbus (24.6), Austin (23.7) and Norfolk, Va., (23.2).
On Thursday, NBC's digital streaming of the Rio Games (1.28 billion minutes) passed the combined total of both the London and Sochi Olympics (1.24 billion).