... as in, lots of people are checking out what's going on in China.
We pause to allow the groans to subside.
NBC reports that, through the first eight days of the Olympics, the Games are on pace to be the most-viewed ever. Ratings show 185 million total viewers on NBC and its other networks carrying the Olympics. Through Friday, NBC's prime-time telecasts were averaging an audience of 30 million. (That's close to what the highest-rated episodes of American Idol drew last season.)
The 185 million total is 5 million ahead of the first eight days for the most-watched Olympics -- Atlanta.
Also, using Total Audience Measurement Index, NBC says 101.1 million people on Thursday watched the Olympics either on TV or via NBCOlympics.com. The highest TAMi so far was last Sunday's 113 million.
# # #
According to highlights provided by NBC, here is some of what the network's commentators said during coverage of Michael Phelps' last race and eighth gold medal of these Games:
Rowdy Gaines: "The sport of swimming will never be the same. The name Michael Phelps will be synonymous with perfection."
Gaines on what relay swimmer Brendan Hansen said to Debbie Phelps: "Mrs. Phelps, I promise you, I'll be ready for that relay Sunday."
Dan Hicks' call of Phelps' final victory: "Eight-for-eight. And in the 112-year history of the modern Olympic Games, more than 100,000 athletes have competed, in Summer and Winter Games, only one has won eight gold medals in a single Olympics. That is the kind of feat that just may never be surpassed and certainly one of the greatest feats of sports history."
Here is Bob Costas' interview with Phelps:
Costas: In case you're not aware, Mr. and Mrs. America, I'd like to introduce you to Michael Phelps. He's a pretty good swimmer. He's had a pretty good Olympic Games. You don't even appear winded. You did exactly and fully what you came here to do. We got the immediate reaction with Andrea Kremer afterwards. A few more minutes for it to sink in, any perspective at all?
Phelps: (Pause) No.
Costas: (Laughter) There it is.
Phelps: I'm still at a loss for words. This was everything that I wanted to do, and everything I dreamed of. And it's an amazing feeling. I do want to say that it wouldn't have been possible without the help from my teammates. They were a huge help to my success.
Costas: Let's tick them off here. As in, not make them angry, we don't want to tick them off, we want to tick off their names here. In the 4x100 free, Garrett Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones and of course Jason Lezak with the epic last leg. In the 4x200 free, Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens and Peter Vanderkaay, and just now Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen and Lezak again, that's three of the eight.
Phelps: I guess starting off from the 400 free relay, you guys saw our reaction and how emotional and excited we were. And then the 800 free, we wanted to break seven minutes, and we went out and broke seven minutes. Tonight we wanted to end on a good note. Those relays are ours. The 400 medley relay is ours, and we wanted to keep it in our country, and we wanted to keep the world record. It was a good race. We went out there, and we put four swims and broke the world record and had one of the best times we've had all week.
Costas: You're aware, I guess, because Andrea mentioned it to you and we showed it for a moment earlier, that in your hometown of Baltimore where the Ravens played a preseason game tonight against the Vikings, the fans stayed around after the game ended. They showed it on the big screen and they went nuts.
Phelps: I was actually talking about that with my teammates this morning, with Peirsol and Brendan and Lezak this morning. I was like, this is going to be live at Ravens stadium after the game. Almost 70,000 people screaming. It's cool. I'm excited to go home. I can't wait to see a football game. That's one of the biggest things I'm looking forward to when I get home.
Costas: Ian Thorpe was in the house. You're a bit like Michael Jordan in this respect. Jordan would extract motivation from any situation. He would even somehow identify a perceived slight from an intended complement. So, whether it's Thorpe or it's Cavic or whether it was Alain Bernard earlier, if it's there, if it's something real or imaginary that can get under your skin, you'll use it.
Phelps: Oh, yeah. I said yesterday I welcome any comments. All they do is fire me up, and all they do for America is fire us up. Before the relay we were fired up, and that made just made us more fired up and fueled us even more to get ready to swim. I always welcome it, and I love when people say that somebody can't do something because you want to go out there and prove it that much more.
Costas: It was actually reasonable what Thorpe said, because if I've got it right, he wasn't so much saying it's impossible. He was saying it's highly unlikely because there are so many variables including the three that are relay events.
Phelps: I guess everything had to go perfect. We had to have a great last leg in the 4x100 free. I had to win by 0.01 in the 100 fly. It's a little bit of everything. Everything had to fall perfectly into place, and I was able to have probably the best week of my life.
Costas: Somebody told me about an hour ago that this week on Facebook ...
Phelps: Oh, my gosh, it's crazy.
Costas: You've gone by Michael Jordan, Manchester United, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. But it doesn't stop there. You've gone by the Jonas Brothers, you've gone by Miley Cirus you've gone by Justin Timberlake. You swept the board.
Phelps: I checked it one day and I checked it two days later, and I had like 2,800 in one day, and then I went back on two days later and had like 7,600 friend requests. I can't accept anymore, but I have those sitting in my box.
Costas: And, of course, you consider them all close personal friends, and you'll respond to them all in due time.
Phelps: Of course, of course.
Costas: Also, you got Will Smith by the way. You moved past Will Smith, at least for the time being.
Phelps: It's cool. I'm having fun. That's all I've wanted to do.
Associated Press photos