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Olympic TV Ratings in the US

ABC's Dancing with the Stars olympically outdistanced the Winter Games on Americans' telly dials last night:

“Stars” averaged 27.1 million total viewers over two hours last night, according to Nielsen overnights, setting a new series high while finishing as the night’s most-watched program. It drew 83 percent more than the 14.8 million NBC averaged in the same 8 to 10 p.m. timeslot with the Games' closing ceremonies.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Fox began the evening with the lead, posting a 4.7 among 18-49s during the 7 p.m. hour for its last hour of NASCAR racing coverage. ABC was second that hour with a 3.1 for “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” NBC third with a 2.7 for the Olympics, CBS fourth with a 2.2 for “60 Minutes,” Univision fifth with a 1.5 for soccer and WB sixth with a 1.3 for an hour of “Reba” repeats.

At least it beat the "Reba" repeats.

ABC took the lead for good during the 8 p.m. hour with a 7.5 for the first hour of the “Stars” finale. Fox dropped to second that hour with a 4.1 average for “The Simpsons” (4.6) and “The War at Home” (3.7), with CBS third with a 3.9 for “Cold Case” and NBC fourth with a 3.7 for the Olympics. Univision came in fifth with a 2.3 for “Bailando por un Sueño,” and WB sixth with a 1.9 for “Charmed.”

At 9 p.m. ABC led again with a 9.7 for the second hour of the “Stars” finale. Fox held onto second with a 4.1 average for a repeat of “Family Guy” (4.2) and a new “American Dad” (4.0), and NBC was third with a 4.0 for the Olympics. CBS dropped to fourth that hour with a 3.1 for a “CSI” repeat, with Univision fifth with a 2.8 for “Sueño” and WB sixth with a 1.3 for a repeat of “Charmed.”

At 10 p.m. ABC led again with a 10.8 rating for “Grey’s Anatomy,” the night’s highest-rated program among 18-49s. NBC was second that hour with a 3.8 for the Olympics, CBS third with a 3.4 for another “CSI” rerun and Univision fourth with a 2.6 for the last hour of “Sueño.”

NBC almost had to make amends to sponsors on account of low viewership, but according to this article, they just made their guarantee. Even so, NBC has some work to do before Beijing:

Most important, buyers say, NBC must acknowledge the promotion and presentation problems that plagued it this year and fix them before the Beijing Summer Games in 2008.

“NBC did a poor job, on a national level and local level, of promoting the games. As a buyer, I had to call in November before a first quarter buy and ask the dates of the Olympics. NBC can only blame themselves for poor ratings,” another buyer says.

“They should have anticipated the other networks coming after them during the Olympics. They can't blame the poor showing of some of the athletes, nor can they blame their announcers."

With all the choices of what to watch, sporting and otherwise, folks just don't seem to pay much attention to the Olympics here in the states - regardless of what NBC does. Still, the Olympics represent an improvement over what NBC has in prime time in the past.