'Tonight Show' reaps in Olympic wake

The start of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games last week gave NBC a kick in the fringe ratings in the ayem and latenight.

NBC News’ “Today” averaged 6.1 million viewers — 1.1 million viewers ahead of ABC News’ “Good Morning America,” according to Nielsen numbers for the week ended Feb. 10. On Thursday and Friday of the week, Katie Couric and Matt Lauer co-anchored from Park City.

“GMA” averaged 5.0 million viewers during the frame, while CBS News’ “The Early Show” attracted 2.7 million.

‘Today’ still down

Still, even with the Olympic boost in ratings, “Today” was down 3% in total viewers compared to the same week last year, while “GMA” jumped 12%. “Early” dipped 5% in total viewers.

Fueled by Olympic fever, NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” matched its biggest margin of victory in a year over CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” among adults 18-49. “Leno” averaged 6.4 million viewers overall, with a 2.5/12 among adults 18-49, while “Letterman” posted 4.1 million with a 1.7/7 among adults in the key ad-friendly demo.

Ceremony boosts ‘Tonight’

“Tonight” wrapped the week by tying its highest adult 18-49 rating (3.3) for a regular Friday episode since January 10, 1997. The big audience was generated by a live telecast that followed local news and the highest-rated Opening Ceremony in Olympics history.

Meanwhile, with an average of 5 million viewers, NBC News’ “Meet the Press” led the Sunday ayem public affairs derby by a large margin. ABC’s “This Week” averaged 3.39 million, CBS’ “Face the Nation” 3.36 million. Fox’s “News Sunday” averaged 1.60 million viewers.

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