Gold Medal ratings

'Today' gets boost from Olympics coverage

NEW YORK — The Olympics may not be living up to ratings expectations in primetime, but the Games catapulted “The Today Show” to one of its biggest weeks in history, with an average of 6.7 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen numbers.

In fact, last week was the fourth most-watched week in the 49-year history of “Today” — only three weeks in early 1998 when Monica Lewinsky made headlines and Hillary Clinton visited “Today” had generated more viewers.

Celebrating its 250th week in first place in the ayem, “Today” had its biggest advantage (2.4 million viewers) over “Good Morning America” in two years, since the week before Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer began anchoring the ABC News morning show. More people watched “Today” last week than “GMA” and CBS News’ “Early Show” combined.

Unlike NBC primetime coverage, which is tape-delayed, “Today’s” coverage includes live reporting from the Games, enabling the show to capture some of the live excitement. “The time difference works to our advantage because we’re attracting huge crowds who are leaving the track and field and swimming venues,” said “Today” exec producer Jeff Zucker.

In household ratings, “Today” averaged a 5.6 rating/23 share, equaling its fifth-highest household rating of all time, according to preliminary national numbers from Nielsen. Final numbers will be released Thursday.

Among adults 25-54, “Today” was up 38% over the same week a year ago and 38% over its third-quarter average. Viewership for the show was up 1% over the first week in Atlanta four years ago, 19% over the same week a year ago and 20% over its third quarter average.

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