NBC Reached Olympic Heights

9/05/2004 8:00 PM Eastern

The Games of the XXVIII Olympiad are over, and the competition from Athens, Greece, left most of the networks of NBC with some impressive Nielsens.

All told, the coverage of the 2004 Athens Summer Olympic Games on the networks of NBC garnered 203 million total, unduplicated viewers, making it the most viewed non-U.S. Summer Games in history, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Cable did its part, contributing more than one-third of that total, as NBC reported that CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network and Bravo pulled in some 69 million unduplicated viewers. NBC said the four cable services enjoyed a 60% jump in total viewers (43 million) for the same time periods during the comparable 17 days in July.

Looking at the networks’ individual viewing medals, USA was up 54% in average viewers (800,000 from 521,000) for its Olympic dayparts, compared with the same pre-Olympic 17 days and time slots in July 2004. The net was led by a 1.7 household mark for its coverage of the USA men’s basketball game against Greece on Aug. 17, the best performance in its afternoon (ET) period since 1995.

MSNBC registered a 193% leap in average viewers (460,000 vs. 157,000) over the pre-Olympic July 04 levels (460,000 vs. 157,000) in Olympics dayparts. At the same time, the median age for MSNBC viewers over total day also improved from 59 to 51 versus the pre-Olympics third quarter of 2004.

Bravo saw viewership grow 32% (441,000 vs. 137,000) in its 5 to 8 p.m. Olympic daypart, compared with the comparable period in July. Olympic programming for both weeknight spans marked the highest total viewer average in the network’s history.

CNBC averaged 584,000 viewers with its Athens coverage, a 1,397% advance (584,000 vs. 39,000) in its various Olympic dayparts. (NBC said some of CNBC’s early-morning July 2004 time-period includes paid programming, which normally is not rated).

In primetime, NBC’s 17-day Athens telecasts averaged a 15.0 national rating and a 26 share, up 9% over its presentation from Sydney, Australia in 2000, when the Peacock averaged 13.8 and a 24 total.

But Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo saw its ratings drop by 25% with its soccer, boxing and baseball coverage, compared with regular fare from 1 to 8 p.m.

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