UPDATE, 1:26 PM: Virginia may be for lovers but the Olympics are not when it comes to ratings. The final numbers for NBC’s primetime coverage last night of the Winter Games are in and the traditionally slow TV night of Valentine’s Day delivered the network its lowest result from Sochi so far. Hosted by Meredith Vieira, NBC’s 8PM – 11PM coverage drew an 11.0/19 national household rating and 19.2 million viewers. The previous low for NBC during this Olympic cycle so far was the first “bonus” night of the XXII Winter Games on February 6. The network got an 11.818 rating and 19.5 million viewers. The highest has been the 17.0/28 rating and audience of 31.7 million that the Opening Ceremony pulled in on February 7. While delivering the second most watched Friday primetime show on any network since the Summer Olympics in the UK two years ago, last night’s ratings were down 17% from the 13.4/23 rating that the comparable night of the Vancouver 2010 games garnered. The coverage out of Vancouver was virtually live, at least for Americans on the East Coast, but put side-by-side with the 11.2/19 that similar tape-delayed night of Torino 2006, Friday’s Sochi games were basically even – as has been the case often throughout these Games so far.
PREVIOUS, 8:57AM:Meredith Vieira received a lot of attention yesterday when it was announced that she would take over NBC’s anchor desk at the Winter Games for at least one night and became the first woman ever to host the network’s Olympics coverage. However the former Today co-host’s stint replacing the still ailing Bob Costas last night did not translate into better numbers for NBC’s tape-delayed primetime package out of Sochi on Valentine’s Day. In early fast nationals, NBC drew 19.08 million viewers and a 4.5/19 rating - the worst the Sochi Games have performed among viewers and adults 18-49 so far. The viewership is down hard from the 23.3 million who watched the comparable night of February 19, 2010 at the Vancouver Olympics. Friday’s result is also a slide of 16% from the 5.4/17 rating the last Winter Games pulled in on its first full Friday of competition four years ago. It’s also an 18% drop from the 5.5 rating of the comparable night in Torino 2006. Up until now, the Sochi games have been beating or matching the the last European held Winter Games on average so far during this cycle.
Unsurprisingly, last night’s results are also a drop from the 31.7 million who watched NBC’s tape-delayed XXII Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony, which Vieira co-hosted, on February 7. That broadcast had a 8.7/26 rating. We’ll update the ratings once the final numbers come in later today. Vieira, NBC announced this morning, will be anchoring the Olympics again tonight where no doubt there’ll be highlights of the U.S. Men’s Hockey Team’s shootout victory over Russia this morning.
With ice sledding, free skating, some hockey highlights and skiing, including the super combined, NBC’s Olympics Friday primetime Olympics coverage received a 11.7/20 result in overnight metered-markets, with loyal Minneapolis (16.5/33) coming in as top local market once again. Looking back four years ago, NBC’s Vancouver coverage got a national household rating of 13.4/23 on its first full Friday of competition. That was jump up of 20% from the comparable night out of Torino 2006, which had a 11.2/19.
The only other original on any of the other nets last night was a new 20/20 at 10PM. The news mag show garnered a 1.1/4. That’s down a tenth from last week’s 1.2/4. Earlier in the night, ABC aired the Be My Valentine Charlie Brown special, which got a 1.0/4 – a rise of 43% from last year. Looks like there was some love in the air there.
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.