tampabay.com

Remote patrol

By Sharon Ginn
Published February 10, 2006


NEWSMAKERS

If the Grammys can't compete with American Idol, can the Olympics? Nielsen ratings released Thursday indicate that from 8-9 p.m. Sunday, nearly twice as many people (28.3-million) watched Fox's show about wanna-be singers than watched real singers wearing less clothing (15.1-million).

NBC and Fox executives maintain that for the most part AI and the Olympics don't have the same audience, so there will be simply more people watching TV during the four times the shows go up against each other. But NBC's prime-time ratings are sagging, and Fox's confidence in airing original programming against the Olympics will at least make it interesting.

"The overwhelming number of people who are watching the Olympics don't watch Fox," network executive Preston Beckman told the Associated Press. "For us to run away from it is goofy."

Jim Lampley, NBC's daytime and late-night Olympics studio host, said he is very confident that "after these two weeks, NBC will be a significantly healthier network in prime time."

Still, he said, "it will be an interesting test of the continuing appeal of the Games."

CHECK IT OUT

NBC's prime-time coverage airs nightly through Feb. 26, beginning at 8 Monday-Saturday and 7 Sunday. All NBC broadcasts will be available in high definition. Programming on MSNBC, CNBC and USA will be standard definition.

Those who watch the Olympics for figure skating and only figure skating should take a look at Olympic Ice, the hourlong news magazine focusing on skating (USA Network, 6 p.m. daily during the Games).

QUOTABLE

"At the end of it, I think they all breathed a sigh of relief because the other skaters gave them the answer. ... ( Michelle Kwan) absolutely deserved to be on it."

- NBC figure skating analyst Dick Button, saying given the performance by most of the women at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, putting Kwan on the team was an easy decision.

CHANNEL SURFING

Time to drop the green flag: Racing coverage begins Saturday with TNT's broadcast of the Budweiser Shootout, starting at 8 p.m. Beginning at noon Sunday, Ch. 8 will air pole qualifying for the Feb. 19 Daytona 500.

ESPN marks the fifth anniversary of the death of Dale Earnhardt with a three-part series running Sunday through Tuesday on SportsCenter.

RATINGS

Not only were the Super Bowl ratings the best since 2000, the game was seen in 45.85-million homes, second in history only to the 50.15-million homes that tuned into the final episode of M*A*S*H in 1983, according to ABC. The actual M*A*S*H rating, however, was 60.2, far higher than Super Bowl XL's 41.6, which puts it only No. 61 on Nielsen's list of top-rated programs.

Channel 8's coverage of the Jan. 28 Gasparilla parade generated better ratings (5.6) than the Lightning-Flyers game (1.3) that aired at the same time. The game was an NBC regional broadcast but had to be moved from Ch. 8 to Ch. 32 because of the parade.