Olympics Lift NBC Easy Ratings Victory

The first weekend of the Winter Olympics lifted NBC to an easy primetime ratings victory in key demos last week as the net beat the combined totals of its rivals and moved into a tie with Fox for the season leadership among young adults.

Four nights of the Sochi Games, including a bonus pre-Opening Ceremony night of action on Thursday, outdrew everything in its path — though AMC’s return of “The Walking Dead” beat it head to head in young adults. And on Thursday, CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” nearly caught it in 18-49 and prevailed among the 25-54 crowd (based on preliminaries only, since NBC excised the half-hour from its nightly average).

Perhaps most impressive was the Opening Ceremony on Friday (8.6/26 in 18-49, 31.69 million viewers overall), which was the week’s No. 1 program in most categories. It was the second most-watched non-live start to a Winter Olympics on record — behind only Lillehammer in 1994.

Overall, according to Nielsen estimates for Feb. 3-9, NBC led with a 4.7 rating/13 share, and followed well behind by CBS (1.8/5), Fox (1.6/4), ABC (1.3/4), UNI (1.2/3) and CW (0.6/2); the 161% advantage for NBC over runner-up CBS is its largest ever without either a full week of Olympics or the Super Bowl. NBC also won easily in all other categories.

For the season, the Peacock is tied with Fox for the lead in adults 18-49 while is No. 1 outright in adults 25-54.

Aside from the Olympics, NBC got a boost from the two-hour season finale of “The Biggest Loser” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 7.45 million viewers overall), which hit a two-year high in total viewers. Also, Wednesday first-year drama “Chicago P.D.” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 6.00m) continues to look good, matching a four-week high in 18-49 and retaining just about all of its “Law & Order: SVU” lead-in.

CBS was paced by the huge “Big Bang” numbers on Thursday, but the rookie comedies that followed — “The Millers” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 10.69m) and “The Crazy Ones” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 7.48m) — both drooped vs. the Winter Games.

The Eye had another good Tuesday, including the best scores since its season premiere for “NCIS: Los Angeles” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 16.30m), and one night later “Criminal Minds” (2.8/7 in 18-49, 12.92m) celebrated its 200th episode with its largest audience since 2012.

And on Sunday, “The Beatles: The Night That Changed America — A Grammy Salute” drew solid numbers (2.1/5 in 18-49, 14.05 million viewers overall) despite opposing both the Olympics and “Walking Dead.”

At Fox, “American Idol” (3.9/11 in 18-49, 13.43 million viewers overall) was Wednesday’s No. 1 program, while Thursday’s hour (3.1/9 in 18-49, 11.08m) held up pretty well opposite the first night of Winter Olympics action on NBC.

The net couldn’t take advantage of Super Bowl promotion the previous week, as both “New Girl” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 3.48m) and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” in its new timeslot (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.22m) lost ground week to week. Also on the decline was Thursday rookie drama “Rake” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 4.27m), which lost nearly two-thirds of its “American Idol” lead-in.

ABC’s “The Bachelor” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 8.33 million viewers overall) delivered best-since-premiere numbers, while “The Middle” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 8.56m) drew its second largest overall audience to date. Also Wednesday, “Modern Family” had its best numbers opposite “American idol” this season (3.5/9 in 18-49, 9.87m), but “Super Fun Night” looked weak behind it (1.5/4 in 18-49, 4.60m), retaining just 43% of the vet comedy’s audience.

CW, which is now up season-to-date in both adults 18-49 and total viewers and flat in adults 18-34, was led by “Arrow” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.86 million viewers overall) and “Supernatural” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.46 million viewers overall).

Among the cable standouts was Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta” (2.1/5 in 18-49, 4.64m), which on Sunday set a record for the largest audience to date for the “Housewives” franchise. And A&E’s “Wahlburgers” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 3.47m) again held onto a good chunk of its demo lead-in from “Duck Dynasty” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 6.51m) on Wednesday.

On the scripted side, OWN’s “The Haves and the Have Nots” set more series highs (1.1/3 in 18-49, 3.35m), while “Being Mary Jane” continues to perform well on the same night for BET (1.3/4 in 18-49, 2.69m).

WEEKLY NETWORK AVERAGES

Adults 18-49 (rating/share)

NBC            4.7/13
CBS             1.8/5
Fox              1.6/4
ABC             1.3/4
UNI             1.2/3
CW               0.6/2
TEL             0.5/1

Total Viewers

NBC          17.23 million
CBS             9.61 million
Fox             4.99 million
ABC            4.79 million
UNI            3.02 million
CW              1.64 million
TEL             1.27 million

WEEK’S TOP PRIMETIME PROGRAMS
(Live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49
1.  Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony-Friday (NBC), 8.6/26
2.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 8.2/21
3.  Winter Olympics-Sunday (NBC), 7.2/18
4.  Winter Olympics-Saturday (NBC), 6.3/20
5.  Winter Olympics-Thursday (NBC), 6.0/17
6.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 5.2/15
7.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 3.9/11
8.  How I Met Your Mother (CBS), 3.8/11
9.  Modern Family (ABC), 3.5/9
10.  NCIS (CBS), 3.1/9
10.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 3.1/9
12.  2 Broke Girls (CBS), 3.0/8
12.  The Talking Dead (AMC), 3.0/8
14.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 2.8/8
14.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 2.8/8
16.  Mike & Molly (CBS), 2.7/7
17.  The Millers (CBS), 2.6/7
17.  The Bachelor (ABC), 2.6/7
19.  Duck Dynasty (A&E), 2.5/7
20.  Mom (CBS), 2.4/6

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony-Friday (NBC), 31.69
2.  Winter Olympics-Sunday (NBC), 26.32
3.  Winter Olympics-Saturday (NBC), 25.11
4.  Winter Olympics-Thursday (NBC), 20.02
5.  NCIS (CBS), 19.53
6.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 17.53
7.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 16.30
8.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 15.76
9.  The Beatles: A Grammy Salute (CBS), 14.04
10.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 13.43
11.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 12.92
12.  Person of Interest (CBS), 12.35
13.  CSI (CBS), 11.16
14.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 11.08
15.  The Millers (CBS), 10.69
16.  Castle (ABC), 10.02
17.  How I Met Your Mother (CBS), 9.98
18.  Modern Family (ABC), 9.87
19.  Elementary (CBS), 9.45
20.  60 Minutes (CBS), 9.38

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