Pleased as punch with the ratings performance of CNBC's and MSNBC's Winter
Olympic Games coverage the past two weeks in Salt Lake City, NBC executives are
already making plans for expanded cable coverage of the next Olympics, the 2004
Summer Games from Athens, Greece.
NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said Sunday that MSNBC will start its daily
Olympics programming from Athens earlier and originate more event coverage live
to accommodate a schedule taking place six hours ahead of the United States.
In a conference call summing up NBC's results from Salt Lake, Ebersol said
MSNBC may begin its coverage at 7 a.m. and run it until 4 p.m. each day. For
Salt Lake, MSNBC offered coverage from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
CNBC's Athens plans have not been set yet, while NBC -- facing mostly
tape-delayed event coverage in primetime -- may also present its own live
Additionally, Spanish-language network Telemundo, which NBC is in the process
of acquiring, is also expected to do its own multihour coverage schedule,
emphasizing soccer and baseball.
In Salt Lake, MSNBC completed its coverage with an average 1.1 rating, more
than quadruple what the all-news cable service garners on an average day.
The performance was also a boost over the average 0.7 weekday and 0.8 weekend
rating the channel generated with its Summer Olympics schedule two years ago
from Sydney, Australia.
MSNBC averaged 778,000 households per day.
The final CNBC average rating was not disclosed during Sunday's conference
call. Through Feb. 21, CNBC clocked an average 1.0 rating for its primetime
coverage. That's three times what the network averages regularly in primetime,
and up from Sydney numbers of 0.7 for weekdays and 0.5 for weekends.
Household viewing for the channel averaged 785,000 per evening.
However, the final Salt Lake average is expected to shoot up somewhat thanks
to the 2.7 rating for the U.S.-Russia hockey semifinal on CNBC's final night,