OVERALL ATHENS OLYMPIC VIEWERSHIP UP 7% OVER SYDNEY
NBC Releases Data for Games' First 11 Days
WEDNESDAY NIGHT OLYMPIC GAMES PULL 66 MILLION VIEWERS
TV Audience is Up 18% From Sydney Games on 6th Day
OPENING DAYS OF OLYMPICS TV VIEWERSHIP TOPS PREVIOUS GAMES
NBC Household Ratings Exceed Expectations
According to the network's report, which it said was based on internal research, 54% of those watching the Olympics on NBC cable networks Bravo and CNBC switched to NBC's broadcast of the Games when cable coverage concluded. That is compared to 1% of viewers who switched to NBC from the same cable channels in the prior week of regular programming.
Boon for morning show
NBC said the Today Show achieved its biggest lead over nearest morning-show rival Good Morning America in almost four years. The Today Show is averaging 6.6 million viewers, 2.4 million more than the ABC show, the network said. Meanwhile, for the first time ever, viewership for NBC's Access Hollywood topped that of rival Entertainment Tonight during the first week of the games.
The Today Show shifted its entire coverage to the Games, including setting up a studio in Athens, where the Games are being held, and nonstop interviews and features with athletes and others providing Olympic-related services such as cooking and the technology used by judges. Access Hollywood has focused on news of contested medals and other controversial aspects of the Games.
Randy Falco, group president of the NBC Television Network, described his reaction to the data as "giddy."
Mr. Falco said the network's strategy of spreading Olympics coverage over an array of NBC platforms was initially criticized by some when it was first announced to media buyers. He said: "We are very happy that we experimented with putting Olympics on as many different places and at many different times."
The overall Olympic strategy by has been to keep the highest-drawing events for the broadcast network, while offering daytime and early-evening viewers the opportunity to watch other events, such as boxing, on cable outlets, including USA Network, MSNBC, Bravo, CNBC and Telemundo. (NBC and the cable networks exist under the NBC Universal umbrella, which is 80% owned by General Electric Co.)
The cable coverage was carefully arranged so as not to compete with the broadcast prime-time slots. USA Network's coverage runs from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.; MSNBC airs Olympic events between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. and between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; Bravo broadcasts its Olympic content from 5 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and CNBC runs from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Spanish-language network Telemundo has also programmed 174 hours of Olympic coverage.
During the first 11 days of Olympics coverage, the total number of viewers at USA Network rose 14% over the average for the same time slots throughout the third quarter. During the same period, MSNBC was up 186%, Bravo was up 191% and CNBC was up 1,333%.
According to executives familiar with negotiations, the network signed an additional $20 to $30 million in advertising revenue beyond the $1 billion it booked in advance of the games.