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Olympics hit 32-year ratings low

Games averaging 14.6 rating in homes

HOLLYWOOD — So much for momentum.

After stringing together a pair of strong Olympics ratings perfs, NBC’s coverage of the Summer Games from Sydney fell flat Tuesday night, logging the lowest rating for any night of the Summer Olympics since 1968 in Tokyo.

With track-and-field taking the night off and gymnastics exhibitions at center stage, Tuesday’s coverage (7:30 to midnight) averaged a slim 12.4/21 in homes and 18.63 million viewers, 11% lower than any other night of the Sydney Games.

From 8 to 9 p.m., a repeat episode of ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (15.47 million) came closer to the Olympics (18.12) than any primetime program since the Sydney Games began Sept. 15.

With five nights yet to be counted, these Games are averaging a 14.6 rating in homes — well behind both the net’s projected 17.5 rating and its 16.1 guarantee to advertisers. Only the Opening Ceremony (16.2) has rated better than this guarantee.

In the key demo of adults 18-49, Tuesday netted a 7.3 rating, leaving the Games at a 9.0 average that’s 38% behind the pace set in Atlanta four years ago (14.4) and 26% behind the 1992 Barcelona Games (12.2).

Firstrun shows hurts

The Olympics also faced several firstrun programs that figured to siphon off some of the Games’ potential young-adult audience.

The season preem of the WB’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel,” for example, fared very well despite the stiff competition. “Buffy” hit an all-time high in men 18-34 (3.2/10), while “Angel” recorded best-yet marks in adults 18-34 (3.5/11), women 18-49 (3.3/8) and men 18-34 (3.3/10).

The drama combo lifted the Frog web to a second-place finish on the night (behind the Olympics) in women 18-34 (3.9/11).

Compared with last season’s openers — when the WB could still be seen on Chicago superstation WGN — “Buffy” was off by 15% in viewers (6.8m vs. 5.8m) and 3% in adults 18-49 (2.9 vs. 3.0). “Angel” was off by 19% (6.1m vs. 7.5m) and 6% (2.9 vs. 3.1).

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