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NBC Averages 21.4 Million Viewers for Sochi Olympics, Down From Vancouver

NBC and Nielsen were expected to release more detailed ratings information on Tuesday, but preliminary estimates show the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics averaging a strong 21.4 million viewers in primetime.

While down 12% from the 24.4 million who watched on average during the more time zone-friendly Vancouver Games of 2010, it’s up 6% from the 20.2 million average for the last European Winter Games in Torino in 2006.

The Closing Ceremony from Sochi on Sunday averaged about 15.1 million viewers, well below the 21.4 million who watched the final night from Vancouver (following that afternoon’s Team USA-Canada men’s gold medal game). It was up slightly from the 2006 Torino closer (14.8 million).

From a competitive standpoint, the Olympics have never been more dominant. For the first complete week of the Games (Feb. 10-16), NBC logged its most lopsided primetime victory in network history.

And the Olympics have helped NBC in other dayparts, including news. “Today” beat “Good Morning America” both complete weeks during the Games, while the Brian Williams-hosted “NBC Nightly News” had its most-watched week in eight years.

NBC paid $4.4 billion in 2011 for every Olympics through the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games. The Peacock and its networks aired a record 1,539 hours over its 18 days from Sochi, Russia, including 230 on NBC Sports Network, 185 on the broadcaster and 45 on MSNBC.

Facebook released data on Monday for the Games, during which roughly 45 million people chatted about the Winter Olympics on the social media website — for a total of about 120 million combined posts, comments and “likes.”

Across the globe, the athletes mentioned the most on Facebook were Shaun White, T.J. Oshie, Yuna Kim, Jenny Jones and Carey Price, and the most popular sports were ice hockey, figure skating and bobsledding. The demo groups most buzzing about the Sochi Games on Facebook were men 18-34, women 18-34 and women 35-49.

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