UPDATE, 2:25 PM: Maybe Matt Lauer should sit in for Bob Costas more often on NBC’s Olympics primetime coverage. Costas’ eye infection may have taken the veteran Olympics broadcaster out of the chair for a bit but the ratings are moving up for the network. With last night’s results proving a big help, NBC now finds its national household 5-day average of 14.4/23 steady with Vancouver over the same period (14.5/24) and up 13% from the same span at Torino (12.7/20). That’s an apples to apples average counting the 5-days since the Opening Ceremony on February 7 with the same periods from the last two Winter Games. What’s also of note is that the coverage from the Sochi games is tape-delayed while coverage from our nearby West Coast Northern neighbor was essentially live.
What made this a real Olympic tie was the final numbers from last night. NBCs Sochi broadcast on Tuesday solidified its best result yet compared to the Vancouver 2010 games. The net’s 8 PM – 11:03 PM coverage scored a 13.7/22 national household rating and averaged 23.7 million viewers. That’s a 12% rise over the national HH ratings on the comparable night of Vancouver 2010 on February 16 that year and a 17% jump in viewership from the 20.3 million who watched that night 4 years ago. In contrast to the last European held Winter Games, NBC surged up 21% over the 11.3/18 result of the similar night of the Torino 2006 Winter Games. Last night’s coverage leaped up 29% from the 18.4 million who watched the network’s prime broadcast 8 years ago.
PREVIOUS, 8:44 AM: The absence of Bob Costas due to an eye infection, his replacement Matt Lauer and no gold medal for U.S. snowboarder Shaun White were the big stories of NBC‘s Olympics primetime coverage last night. Not that those surprises were a bad thing ratingswise: the first Tuesday of the Sochi Games drew a 6.6/18 in preliminary ratings among adults 18-49, up a strong 20% from the 5.5 of the comparable night of the Vancouver Winter Games on February 16, 2010. With more of the ever-popular skating, freestyle skiing and women’s luge, NBC’s broadcast Tuesday was watched by 23.7 million, a 16% rise in total viewers over the 20.5 million who watched the same night in Vancouver. The night marked the biggest viewers and demo gains over the Vancouver Games that NBC has seen since it started its Sochi coverage on February 6. Facing repeats and a spattering of originals except on Fox, NBC easily won the night. Fox and Univision tied for the ratings silver with a 1.2/3, while CBS’ encores hooked in 7.76 million viewers
Last night’s Olympics primetime package drew a 14.5/22 in overnight metered-markets, with Minneapolis again proving the No. 1 market with a 21.8/36. To put things in a bit more context, the first Tuesday of the Vancouver Games garnered a national rating of 12.2/19 with 20.3 million viewers in the final numbers. The comparable night of the Torino 2006 games drew an 11.3/18 national rating. We’ll update with Tuesday’s final numbers when they come in.
Besides a new Killer Women (0.7/2, even with last week) on ABC, the only non-Olympics originals on Tuesday were on Fox. Dads started the network’s night with the first of two episodes to end its freshman season. The first Dads got a 1.2/3. Up against the Olympics, that’s down a hard 20% from last week. Programmed as a special, the second Dads snagged a 1.0/3 rating. New Girl ( 1.3/4) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (1.2/3) followed, with both the comedies down 19% and 14%, respectively, from their February 5 episodes.
Tuesday was a far cry from the comparable night four years ago, when NBC’s Vancouver coverage finished second to a two-hour American Idol on Fox as the broadcasts went head-to-head from 8-10 PM. At the time, the mighty Idol beat the Olympics by 3.9 million viewers, with an audience of 23.6 million watching the Fox show; in 2006, Idol beat NBC’s Torino Games by 11 million viewers in the 8-PM slot.
The two will have a chance for a rematch tonight with a two-hour Idol on at 8 PM.
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.