Numbers for Prime-time Sporting Events Drop

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LOS ANGELES ( -- NBC's broadcast of the 2002 Winter Olympics posted record prime-time number's during Friday's opening ceremonies, but then the numbers in subsequent days settled down.

The network's Nielsen Media Reseach rating of 25.5 and share of 42 made Friday's production in Salt Lake City the highest-rated Winter Game opening ceremony.

A share is a percentage of TV households that have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all TV households -- whether their sets are turned on or not.

The 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, earned a 17.1/29. The previous highest-rated Winter Olympics ceremony, which earned a 24.2/37, was held in Squaw Valley, Calif., in 1960.

But ratings for sporting events airing in prime time the next two nights dipped, posting a 17.1/30 on Saturday night and a slightly better 17.6/27 on sunday. These numbers were significantly higher than those in 1998. But this was expected as Winter Olympics held in the U.S. generally post better ratings than Olympics held abroad.

So far these games are just what advertisers expected, having bought commercial time with an average 17 household rating, according to advertising executives.

General Electric Co.'s NBC said it will make about $60 million on these games; it sold about $720 million in total advertising revenue.

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