The 2008 Beijing Olympics was memorable for lots of reasons, but it may also go down in history as the first games people watched via live streams on the internet.

Using its recently launched BuzzMetrics service, Nielsen Online reports that more Australians are using the net to view live events, read blogs from their favourite sportspeople and have discussions on their favourite athletes of the Games.

“We’ve watched the Beijing Olympics to see which athletes have been the most talked about online,” says Megan Clarken, managing director of Nielsen Online Pacific.

“With consumer generated media on the rise, its been interesting to see online comment associated with these games unfolding alongside the mainstream news channels.”

The report found that Stephanie Rice was the most buzzed-about athlete,
followed by Liesel Jones and Eamon Sullivan to round out the top three.

While more than 50 athletes competing in Olympic events were
profiled by Nielsen Online, the swimmers emerged as the clear
favourites, followed by basketball players and cyclists. Considering
the coverage of Rice’s golden medley double, it’s really not surprising
that she led the popularity charts.

It’s also possible that after stellar performances by pole vaulter
Steve Hooker and Matthew Mitcham on the diving board, the results over
the past week will have shifted further. Go the Green and Gold!