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August 14, 2008

NBC's Olympics coverage tops but drops

NBC's coverage of the Beijing Olympics dropped slightly Wednesday from its prior average, though easily bested competitors and won the night.

The Summer Games averaged 27.7 million viewers (9.4 adults 18-49 rating/27 share), down 12% from NBC’s previous five-night average. For the first time, NBC’s average ratings for the night dipped below Athens four years ago, down about 2%.

Still, the network's ratings are double all the other major networks combined and represent NBC's largest margin of victory over competitors on a Wednesday night since at least 1987. 

Also, there's some mitigating factors to consider: The 2004 comparable night in Athens touted headline-making drama, with U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm earning the narrowest gold medal win in Olympic history. But last night's coverage lacked recent ratings-spiking events such as women's gymnastics and Michael Phelps' gold-medal runs.

Through six days, the Summer Olympics continue to track 10% higher than Athens the adult demo (10.2/29 vs. 9.3/27) and up 17% in total viewers (30.8 million vs. 26.4 million).

NBC has also released the first data from its work-in-progress audience measurement system it calls the Total Audience Measurement Index. NBC said that for the first four days of the Games, there has been an average of 96 million impressions across NBC and its other TV networks, online, mobile and VOD. Plus, the whole Olympic affair is boosting the network's late-night lineup.

CBS placed second for the night, airing repeats and "Greatest American Dog" (5.2 million, 1.3/4). ABC was third with repeats (averaging 3.8 million, 1.3/4). Fox was fourth with repeats (averaging 3.5 million, 1.0/3).

UPDATE: NBC's Olympic ratings hold steady Thursday night.

-- Click here for Hollywood Reporter's full coverage of the Beijing Olympics --

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