JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Viewers are flocking to watch the 2012 London Olympics.
The numbers tell the story. More than 36 million viewers had their eyes on the Olympics Thursday evening, several million more than watched the 2008 Olympics in Bejing or Athens in 2004.
Thursday night's viewership was the most-watched Thursday telecast on any network since the series finale of Friends in 2004.
Television ratings for the first 7 nights of the London Olympics are the highest for any Olympics in 36 years, other than the summer games held in Atlanta.
" Oh wow, that's amazing," said Bryan Whitley of Jacksonville, who has watched as much as possible. " It's just great to be able to, for everybody to pull together and root for something, it's probably what indicate the ratings are so high."
More than 7 million viewers are watching during the day and late-night, an increase of more than 2 million over the last Olympics.
And teen viewership of the Olympics is up 29% over the 2008 Olympics.
Jacksonville was ranked 17th out of metered markets in the United States for viewers watching the opening ceremonies. Jacksonville is outside the top 20 for ratings over seven days with Salt Lake City leading the way with more viewers than any other city.
When he's not working at Sports Mania, Whitley watches with his two teenage boys and 11-year old daughter.
"Some stuff you don't get to see all the time, the fencing , the shooting, things like that , it's neat. The kids have a lot of questions about it, it's just fun to watch. "
Debbie Estanislao has watched every night since opening night. She believes the Olympics appeal to everybody, young and old, and you can root for the favorite or the underdog.
"It's inspiring to see people that are excellent at what they do and they take pride in both representing the United States and their sport," said Estanislao. " I've loved it . We haven't done great at everything but it's just been the challenge the US has had against the other countries , everybody is bringing their best"
"I like the gymnastics and swimming because that is what I identify with , when I was a child I wanted to do gymnastics, I wanted to swim, so that is why I watch the Olympics," said Zeana Waice of Jacksonville while visiting the Landing downtown.
First Coast News