Thanks in part to record-breaking Nielsen Media Research ratings for the opening ceremony on
the first night of the Olympic Games, NBC's coverage of the Salt Lake City Games was
pacing 23 percent ahead of the last winter Olympics (in Nagano, Japan) after
three nights of prime time coverage.
NBC's prime time coverage averaged a 20.3 rating and 33 share through Sunday
The opening ceremony Friday (Feb. 8) drew a record 25.5 household rating and 42 share. The network said it was the highest rating ever for either a Winter
or Summer Olympics opening ceremony.
The previous high for day-one coverage was the opening ceremony for the Los
Angeles Summer Games in 1984, which averaged a 23.9/48.
NBC said 72 million viewers tuned into some part of Friday's coverage.
The network said 104 million viewers in the United States tuned into some part
of the first two days of its prime time coverage of the games.
The first two days of coverage averaged a 21.5 prime time national household
rating and a 36 share, a 45 percent gain over the first two nights of CBS'
coverage of the Nagano Games four years ago.
On Saturday (Feb. 9), the first night of competition, NBC averaged a 17.4/30
in prime time, beating ABC, CBS and Fox combined by 29 percent. It was NBC's
best Saturday-night ratings performance since the Atlanta Olympics in July of
1996, and about 5 rating points higher than the first night of competition at
Sunday night, day two of actual competition, was a different story.
The Olympic coverage averaged a 17.6/27, almost 15 percent below the rating
for the first Sunday night of the Nagano Games.
Researchers said the main factor there was figure skating. That's the most
popular Winter Olympics event, and NBC didn't have it scheduled Sunday night.
Still, NBC crushed the competition, beating each of the other "Big Four"
networks by at least 175 percent and posting its best Sunday-night numbers since
its coverage of the deciding game six of the 1998 National Basketball