Olympics Primetime Network Coverage Dips 7 Percent From Sochi; Nielsen Week In Review
Performers dressed as pandas take the stage as Beijing is celebrated as the next host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics during the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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NBC finished the Pyeongchang Olympics by averaging just under 20 million viewers with its primetime coverage on the network, NBCSN cable and live streaming, which was a 7 percent decline from the Winter Olympics of 2014.

The Nielsen company said that the NBC-only average in primetime was 17.8 million, or a 17 percent decline from Sochi. In 2014, NBC only offered prime-time coverage on the network, and did not have simultaneous programming on cable and online.

NBC said the viewership helped make the Olympics profitable. Viewership started out stronger than executives expected at the beginning of the Olympics and faded toward the end.

One growth area in Pyeongchang was in the late-night time period. Because of the time difference, post-11:30 p.m. was filled with live competition. NBC’s late-night show averaged 8.4 million viewers, up from 5.6 million in Sochi and more than any other Winter Olympics since 1988.

In a reflection of how traditional television viewership is changing, NBC said the prime-time Olympic coverage throughout the Olympics (19.8 million) essentially doubled the viewership of ABC, CBS and Fox combined during that period. The Olympics dominated TV: No other program beat it in the ratings while the games were on. In contrast, during the 2006 Olympics, the games were the night’s top-rated program on only eight of 17 nights.

NBC averaged 14.2 million viewers for the week. CBS had 4.8 million, ABC had 3.5 million, Fox had 2 million, Univision had 1.8 million, ION Television had 1.5 million, Telemundo had 1.2 million and the CW had 840,000.

Fox News Channel was the week’s most popular cable network, averaging 2.23 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 1.74 million, NBCSN had 1.68 million, USA had 1.4 million and AMC had 1.39 million.

While the “Today” show bathed in the Olympic glow to beat its morning rivals, the opposite thing happened in the evening. NBC’s “Nightly News” was broadcast in the mid-afternoon on the West Coast because of the Olympics, and it led to that broadcast being crushed by ABC. ABC’s “World News Tonight” averaged 9.3 million viewers, “Nightly News” had 8.3 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.6 million.

Below are primetime viewership numbers compiled by Nielsen for Feb. 19-25. Listings include the week’s ranking and viewership.

1. Winter Olympics (Tuesday), NBC, 17.53 million.
2. Winter Olympics (Monday), NBC, 16.37 million.
3. Winter Olympics (Thursday), NBC, 15.24 million.
4. Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony, NBC, 14.78 million.
5. Winter Olympics (Wednesday), NBC, 14.17 million.
6. Winter Olympics (Friday), NBC, 12.9 million.
7. Winter Olympics (Saturday, 9-10 p.m.), NBC, 11.69 million.
8. Winter Olympics Gala (Saturday, 10-11 p.m.), NBC, 10.85 million.
9. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 8.33 million.
10. “The Walking Dead,” AMC, 8.28 million.
11. “The Big Bang Theory” (Thursday, 8 p.m.), CBS, 7.91 million.
12. “NCIS,” CBS, 7.2 million.
13. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 7.04 million.
14. “Pyeongchang Gold,” NBC, 6.98 million.
15. “The Big Bang Theory” (Thursday, 9 p.m.), CBS, 6.36 million.
16. “The Bachelor,” ABC, 6.29 million.
17. “A.P. Bio,” NBC, 5.89 million.
18. “Big Brother” (Wednesday), CBS, 5.54 million.
19. “Bull,” CBS, 5.48 million.
20. “NCIS: New Orleans,” CBS, 5.31 million.

ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co.; CBS is a division of CBS Corp.; Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox; NBC is owned by NBC Universal.


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