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Dancing 'Stars' outshine Olympics closing ceremony

The closing ceremonies on Sunday had only 14.8-million viewers, and the broadcast was clobbered by ABC's finale of Dancing With the Stars.

Associated Press
Published March 4, 2006

NEW YORK - NBC's prime-time Olympics coverage from Turin averaged 20.2-million viewers a night, a 37 percent decline from the Salt Lake City games four years ago, with an even steeper decline among young viewers.

The closing ceremonies on Sunday had only 14.8-million viewers, and the broadcast was clobbered by ABC's finale of Dancing With the Stars.

It was a disheartening showing for NBC. The network had promised its advertisers an average of between 12 and 14 ratings points for the games and barely made it: The average rating was 12.2, according to Nielsen Media Research. Each ratings point represents 1,102,000 households.

NBC had expected lower ratings than those for Salt Lake City because of the time difference and the heightened patriotism that followed the 2001 terrorist attacks, but clearly the network had hoped the decline wouldn't be as steep. Salt Lake City averaged 31.9-million viewers a night, while the 1998 Nagano games averaged 25.1-million.

The network said its cable and Internet coverage showed growth, slightly mitigating the prime-time disappointment.

Among viewers ages 18 to 49, ratings for the Turin games were down 45 percent. Advertisers are most interested in these young viewers, who abandoned the Olympics in large numbers for Fox's American Idol.

In fact, among this youthful demographic, NBC didn't even win in prime time last week. Fox did. That's an unheard of slump for a television event as popular as the Olympics.

Still, the Olympics ratings were more than double NBC's prime-time average for regular programming, and the network hopes it was able to reach enough people with ads for new programs like Conviction to give them strong starts.

For the week, NBC averaged 19.5-million viewers, Fox had 15.6-million, ABC 11.3-million, CBS 10-million, Univision 4.4-million, the WB 2.8-million, UPN 2.6-million, Telemundo 1.1-million and Pax TV 410,000.

Even though NBC's Nightly News won the evening-news ratings race with 9.7-million viewers, it didn't get much boost from the Olympics. ABC's World News Tonight had 9.1- million viewers and the CBS Evening News had 8.3 million.

1. Idol-Wed., Fox, 31.7

2. Idol-Tue., Fox, 30.2

3. Dancing Finale, ABC, 27.2

4. Olympics-Thur., NBC, 25.7

5. Olympics-Tue., NBC, 25.1

6. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 24.8

7. Idol-Thur., Fox, 23.3

8. Olympics-Mon., NBC, 22.4

9. Dancing Stars, ABC, 17.7

10. Olympics-Sat., NBC, 16.5

11. Olympics-Wed., NBC, 16

12. Olympics-Fri., NBC, 15.9

13. Survivor, CBS, 14.8

14. Olympics Closing, NBC, 14.8

15. CSI, CBS, 14.7

16. Cold Case, CBS, 14.6

17. House-Mon., Fox, 14.2

18. 24, Fox, 13.7

19. Primetime, ABC, 12.5

20. CSI: Miami, CBS, 12.2

[Last modified March 4, 2006, 10:31:27]

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