Olympics Propel NBC to Its Most Dominant Weekly Victory Ever

Olympics Propel NBC Its Most Dominant
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

NBC skated, snowboarded and curled its way to the network’s most dominant frame on record last week — delivering roughly four times the average of its closest competitor.

Same-night viewing numbers for entertainment series these days don’t approach what they were four or eight years ago, making live sports like the Olympics an even more popular draw relative to everything else in primetime.

As a result of its lopsided victory, the Peacock has padded its season average in adults 18-49 rating to its highest level in six years (3.1), rising 15% above last season’s average and ahead of all three of its rivals (ABC, CBS and Fox) this late into the season for the first time in 10 years. And with “The Voice” returning next week, and “American Idol” no longer a powerhouse that can elevate Fox, the Peacock looks to be a pretty safe bet to prevail come May.

Fox aired plenty of originals last week, but ABC and CBS opted to keep their scripted hits out of the way of the Sochi Games. That enabled some cable programs to move up the weekly program rankings, and they accounted for seven spots in the top 20 among adults 18-49.

Leading the way, of course, was another monster week for AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” which was the only program to fare better than the Olympics last week in adults 18-49. Its 6.8 rating edged out Tuesday’s night of action from Sochi, which did a 6.6.

Others cracking the top 20 included the NBA All-Star Game (3.3/9 in 18-49, 7.51 million viewers overall) — though the Olympics helped drag it down slightly vs. last year — and hot reality series “Love & Hip-Hop” on VH1 (1.9/6 in 18-49, 3.52m) and “Real Housewives of Atlanta” on Bravo (1.8/5 in 18-49, 4.07 million viewers overall).

Overall for the week of Feb. 10-16, NBC led with a 5.5 rating/16 share — a bigger piece of the demo pie than the next six closest broadcast networks and the net’s highest score for any week since its coverage of the London Games in the summer of 2012. The Peacock’s nearly 300% advantage over the runners-up in adults 18-49 (Fox) and total viewers (CBS) was the biggest for any network in the nearly 27-year history of Nielsen People Meter history.

The first full week of Olympics from Sochi averaged 21.21 million viewers, down from the 24.75 million for Vancouver in 2010 (held in a more time-zone friendly country) but up from the most recent European Winter Games, in Torino in 2006 (19.41 million).

Excluding the Olympics, the top broadcast programs among young adults last week were Fox’s “American Idol” (3.4/10 in 18-49, 11.67 million viewers overall on Wednesday; 3.0/9 in 18-49, 10.18 million viewers overall) and a repeat of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” (2.8/9 in 18-49, 11.78 million viewers overall). The geek-com was the most-watched regular broadcast program for the week, finishing second overall among series to “The Walking Dead” (13.34 million).


Adults 18-49 (rating/share)

NBC            5.5/16
Fox              1.4/4
UNI             1.1/3
ABC             1.0/3
CBS             0.9/3
TEL             0.5/1
CW              0.3/1

Total Viewers

NBC           21.21 million
CBS             5.31 million
Fox              4.42 million
ABC            3.73 million
UNI            2.86 million
TEL             1.19 million
CW              0.86 million

(Live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49
1.   The Walking Dead (AMC), 6.8/17
2.  Winter Olympics-Tuesday (NBC), 6.6/18
3.  Winter Olympics-Monday (NBC), 6.5/17
4.  Winter Olympics-Thursday (NBC), 5.9/17
5.  Winter Olympics-Wednesday (NBC), 5.6/18
6.  Winter Olympics-Sunday (NBC), 4.9/13
7.  Winter Olympics-Friday (NBC), 4.5/15
8.  Winter Olympics-Saturday (NBC), 4.4/14
9.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 3.4/10
10.  NBA All-Star Game (TNT), 3.3/9
11.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 3.0/9
12. The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 2.8/9
13.  Talking Dead (AMC), 2.5/7
14.  The Bachelor (ABC), 2.3/6
15. Love & Hip-Hop (VH1), 1.9/6
15.  NBA All-Star Tipoff (TNT), 1.9/5
17.  The Millers (CBS), 1.8/5
17.  Real Housewives of Atlanta (Bravo), 1.8/5
19.  The Following (Fox), 1.7/4
20.  WWE Raw-8 p.m. (USA), 1.6/5
20.  Almost Human (Fox), 1.6/4
20.  Modern Family-r (ABC), 1.6/4

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  Winter Olympics-Tuesday (NBC), 23.72
3.  Winter Olympics-Monday (NBC), 22.94
4.  Winter Olympics-Thursday (NBC), 22.39
5.  Winter Olympics-Wednesday (NBC), 21.27
6.  Winter Olympics-Sunday (NBC), 20.81
7.  Winter Olympics-Friday (NBC), 19.11
8.  Winter Olympics-Saturday (NBC), 17.10
9.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 11.78
10.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 11.67
11.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 10.18
12.  NCIS-r (CBS), 9.74
13.  60 Minutes (CBS), 8.17
14.  NCIS: Los Angeles-r (CBS), 7.95
15.  The Bachelor (ABC), 7.87
16.  NBA All-Star Game (TNT), 7.51
17.  The Millers (CBS), 7.43
18.  Intelligence (CBS), 7.12
19.  Elementary-r (CBS), 6.22
20.  Mike & Molly-r (CBS), 6.03

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  1. Isn’t it ironic if the only series left alive by this ratings massacre is THE WALKING DEAD?

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