NBC HAPPY WITH OLYMPICS OPENING CEREMONY

Though Ratings Not as High as Salt Lake City in 2002

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -– NBC was satisfied with the ratings it drew for the opening ceremonies of the Turin Winter Olympic Games, even though the event attracted about 20 million fewer viewers than the 2002 opening festivities, which took place in the U.S.
The Winter Olympics opening ceremony drew 50 million viewers.

The Winter Olympics opening ceremony drew 50 million viewers Friday night and won a 13.1 rating, 21 share in households, according to Nielsen Media Research fast national data, provided by NBC over the weekend.

The figure is down compared to the last Winter Olympics, held in Salt Lake City in 2002, which drew 72 million viewers and won a 25.5 rating/42 share. However, ratings are generally higher for domestic games, and the Salt Lake City ceremony came after a period of intense patriotism fueled by the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Meeting expectations
“We are right where we thought we'd be for this opening ceremony," Randy Falco, president and chief operating officer, NBC Universal Television Group, said in a statement released Feb. 11. “Our projections show us doubling the underlying prime-time ratings average -- and we exceeded that."

Friday’s opening ceremony aired at 8 p.m. ET and featured formation dancers grouped together to form the image of a gigantic downhill skier that could be seen from high above the stadium. Viewing figures peaked between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at 14.5/23 as the parade of nations began. Average household viewing of the opening ceremony during prime time was 22.8 million.

By comparison, the Feb. 6 Super Bowl drew 141 million viewers and won a 41.1/62 share. With Saturday’s Olympic viewing already counted, NBC said 88 million viewers tuned in to the first two days of coverage. The games will go on for 17 days.

Mr. Falco told reporters late last week that NBC has guaranteed advertisers a rating of between 12 and 14. Saturday night’s coverage averaged a 13.5/23 in households and a 6.8 in adults aged 18-49. Audience levels peaked for the pairs figure skating and women’s moguls competitions.

A household rating is the estimated size of the TV audience relative to the total universe, according to Nielsen. A single rating point is equal to 1.1 million households.

Opening night advertisers
Among the big advertisers on Friday night were: General Motors’ Chevrolet Tahoe, Charles Schwab, Home Depot, AT&T, eBay and Visa. During the 2004 games, Anheuser-Busch was the biggest advertiser during the opening ceremony, according to data from Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Nielsen reported that the price of an average spot in the opening ceremony during the Summer Olympics in Athens in 2004 was $340,000. NBC is asking between $500,000 and $700,000 for a 30-second spot during this year’s games. NBC paid in excess of $600 million for the rights to air the games. The network has said it aims to bring in ad revenue in excess of $900 million.

Rivals counter-program
NBC used Friday night’s opening ceremony to aggressively promote two of its shows, “Deal, or No Deal,” and a new Dick Wolf crime drama, “Conviction.” Throughout the Olympic extravaganza, the General Electric Co.-owned network will face stiff competition from its rivals, which are continuing to air new episodes of their strongest programming. Fox is fielding “American Idol” and “24.” ABC will continue to broadcast “Desperate Housewives,” "Lost," “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Dancing with the Stars.” CBS is programming male-oriented movies, such as “The Bourne Identity,” along with shows such as “Survivor.”

Fresh off its stellar Super Bowl performance, ABC administered its first body blow to NBC’s Olympics on Sunday night. Audiences chose to watch “Desperate Housewives,” red-head Bree Van De Camp over the so-called ‘flying tomato,’ snowboarder Shaun White in the half pipe competition.

ABC becomes the first network to win a Sunday night in the all important adults 18-49 category against Winter Olympics in twelve years. In the 9 pm-10 pm hour, “Desperate Housewives,” was the number one show among adults 18-49, rating 9.9/20 versus Olympic coverage 8.4/17. “Grey’s Anatomy,” in the hour following also scored a victory against the athletes over on NBC. The hospital drama scored a 11.2/25 in the demographic, more than NBC and CBS combined score 9.0/20. ABC marked its second most watched Sunday of the year, behind Super Bowl XL, with 18.7 million viewers. The network’s figures are fast affiliate ratings from Nielsen Media Research.

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