NBC Skis to Ratings Gold

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Vancouver, B.C. — Lifted
by a strong opening ceremony
and the toppling of
American Idol last Wednesday,
NBC’s coverage of the 2010
Winter Olympics through the
first seven nights of the Vancouver
Games easily exceeded the
similar span from Torino, Italy,
in 2006.

From Feb. 12 through Feb.
18, NBC’s primetime coverage
averaged a 14.8 rating/24 share,
19% greater than the 12.4 rating/
20 share performance for
the first seven nights from the
Torino Games.

NBC — which guaranteed
advertisers a 14 rating average
in primetime, while indicating
it would lose some $250 million,
owing to higher rights fees
— averaged 26.6 million viewers,
27% greater than the 20.9
million for Torino at that stage.

That’s the best result for a non-
U.S. Winter Games since the
Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Hardingfueled
1994 Games, when CBS
skated to a 37.5 million average.

The Peacock’s Nielsen fortunes
were led by the 32.4 million
who watched hockey legend
Wayne Gretzky and others
ignite the Olympic flame during
the Feb. 12 opening ceremony.

More impressively, NBC
ended a six-year, 222-episode,
time-slot winning streak for
Fox’s American Idol in the 9
p.m. hour on Feb. 17. On what
was the greatest day in U.S. Winter
Olympics history — with six
Americans earning medals, including
three golds — the Peacock
scheduled skier Lindsey
Vonn’s downhill victory against
Idol. NBC’s coverage trounced
the music-competition show by
64% among viewers, 30.1 million
to 18.4 million; by 63% in
ratings, 17.0 to 10.4; and by 30%
among adults 18 to 49.

NBC Universal chief Jeff
Zucker, appearing on CNBC’s
Squawk Box the morning after
that ratings revelation, basked
in the glory.
“Obviously this has been a
terrific story for the American
team and been a great story for
NBC and been a great story for
our advertisers,” he enthused.

“Obviously, people have come
out and are watching these
games in great numbers, and
that’s incredibly satisfying for
us, really exceeding all of our
expectations.”

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