NBC rolled to victory with its first of two full weeks of Winter Olympics coverage, more than doubling its closest competitor in just about every category.
Among the Peacock highlights was Wednesday’s coverage of a record-setting day for the Americans, which topped even Fox’s “American Idol” — sending the music megahit its first timeslot setback in nearly six years.
But in general, reality shows — on both broadcast and cable — held up well opposite the Vancouver Games. In addition to the still-monster “Idol,” CBS scored nicely with “Undercover Boss,” ABC looked rosy with “The Bachelor, and E! (“Keeping Up With the Kardashians”) and MTV (“16 and Pregnant”) also delivered big numbers.
Any way you slice it, though, the week belonged to the Peacock, which has moved ahead of ABC and into third place for the season in adults 18-49.
According to Nielsen estimates for the Feb. 15-21 frame, NBC averaged a 6.7 rating/18 share in adults 18-49, more than doubling second-place Fox (3.2/9) and tripling both ABC (2.1/6) and CBS (2.0/5). The Peacock also ruled the roost in adults 25-54 (8.3/20 to a 3.6/9 for runner-up Fox) and persons 12-34 (4.5/14 to 2.6/8 for Fox).
And in total viewers, NBC’s 24.8 million viewers topped the combined deliveries of Fox (8.7 million), CBS (7.8 million) and ABC (6.3 million).
Through Sunday, these Olympics were more dominant in the primetime ratings race than any Winter Games since at least 1988, with NBC’s 10-night average audience (26.1 million) a full 25% higher than the combined delivery of ABC, CBS and Fox (20.8 million). At Salt Lake City, for example, even though the Peacock drew a much larger audience, its advantage over its combined major-net competish was 23% (29.6 million vs. 24.1 million).
Top primetime perf from Vancouver last week was Wednesday (9.0/24 in 18-49, 29.42m), in which NBC’s coverage highlighted the U.S. winning a record six medals (including three gold). Head-to-head, the Olympics beat “American Idol” by 29% in 18-49 rating (9.0 vs. 7.0) and by 62% in total viewers (30.1 million vs. 18.6 million) — the first time anything has beaten the Fox show since NBC’s “Fear Factor” in May 2004.
Other top nights for the Vancouver Games were Saturday (7.4/23 in 18-49, 26.67m) and Monday (7.1/18, 25.22m).
Sunday’s USA-Canada hockey game on MSNBC drew a big 8.22 million viewers in primetime (airing late afternoon on the West Coast) and ranked among the week’s top 20 programs in 18-49. It likely cut into the primetime average of NBC, which drew 23.29 million in primetime that night, but combined the networks of NBC had its most-watched day of the Vancouver Games, attracting 87 million viewers.
Fox was led by Tuesday’s two-hour seg of “American Idol” (9.2/23 in 18-49, 23.92m), which trounced the Olympics head-to-head. And though “Idol” went down on Wednesday, it’s worth noting that its “live plus same day” demo score that night was bigger than any non-“Idol” regular-timeslot entertainment telecast this season.
Meanwhile, the net’s firstrun dramas “24” (2.8/7 in 18-49, 8.58m) and “Human Target” (2.1/6, 7.21m) both slipped some opposite the Games.
At ABC, “The Bachelor” (4.1/10 in 18-49, 11.53m) wasn’t fazed by the Olympics as it continues its strongest season in years (Daily Variety, Feb. 17).
Tuesday’s “Lost” (4.5/11 in 18-49, 9.82m) dipped for a second straight week, but that’s understandable given that it was up against both “American Idol” and the Olympics. It likely saw a substantial surge in same-week DVR playback, as numbers just released for its Feb. 2 premiere showed “Lost” surging in both 18-49 rating (6.7 vs. 5.6) and overall viewership (14.3 million vs. 12.1 million) vs. its previously reported same-night numbers.
Net also hung in there with “Grey’s Anatomy” (3.7/10, 10.27m) and “Desperate Housewives” (3.7/9, 10.92m), though both hit lows opposite the Olympics.
CBS saw good results for its reality trio of “Survivor” (3.9/11 in 18-49, 11.97m), “Amazing Race” (2.9/7, 9.01m) and “Undercover Boss” (4.8/11, 13.76m). “Boss” ran second to only the Olympics in its Sunday slot despite facing ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” for the first time.
CW was paced by “Smallville” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.44m) and continues to be encouraged by its cume numbers for new drama “Life Unexpected.” Though its regular Monday hour was nothing special (0.9/2, 1.80m), “Life,” which has also been airing repeats on Wednesday, has cumed about 5 million unduplicated viewers each week since its bow.
The top entertainment telecast on cable last week was Sunday’s season finale of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” on E! (2.7/7 in 18-49, 4.81m), which helped the network set records for both the day and week. In its 10 p.m. hour, it led all of television — including NBC’s Olympics — in women 18-34 (5.1/14).
The second-season premiere of MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” led cable on Tuesday in several categories, including persons 12-34 (2.8/9) and total viewers.
Nickelodeon’s Presidents Day airing of “Penguins of Madagascar” special “Dr. Blowhole’s Revenge,” guest-starring Neil Patrick Harris, drew a sizable 4.6 million viewers; Lifetime Movie Network averaged a solid 2.65 million viewers on Sunday with the original movie “Sins of the Mother,” starring R&B singer-actress Jill Scott — the second-highest-rated movie in the net’s history in key demos, and its most-watched among African-Americans (1.53 million); and History’s original series “Ax Men” hit season highs on Sunday (1.1/3, 2.55m), standing as the No. 1 cable show at 10 p.m. in key male demos.
And although Sunday’s hockey helped MSNBC move up sharply in the weekly cable rankings (sixth in total viewers), it still trailed news rival Fox News Channel, which ranked third. FNC also drew the most cable viewers on Friday for Tiger Woods’ 15-minute statement (2.07 million to 1.71 million for ESPN).