NBC Olympics Tops Idol, Again

The Olympics on NBC Thursday night beat American Idol for the second time in two weeks.  Idol had been undefeated in six years (dating back to May 2004). When going head-to-head against Idol (8-9 p.m.), the Olympics out-drew Idol 19.2 million vs. 17.8 million an advantage of eight percent. Head-to-head (8-9 p.m.), the Olympics out-rated Idol by more than a full rating point (11.4 vs. 10.2).

On the night (8 p.m. – 11:55 p.m.), NBC’s Olympic broadcast that featured figure skating’s ladies free skate later in the broadcast, drew an average audience of 22.9 million, with a peak of 25.0 million in the 9-10 p.m. hour, according to data provided by Nielsen .

“I never thought we would have the good fortune to beat the incredibly well-produced and enduring phenomenon of American Idol even once,” says Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports and Olympics. “But twice? At best, I deeply believed we might come a little closer than we did four years ago because the show is such a powerhouse. We are happy to rent Idol’s space for a few nights. All the thanks goes to the athletes of the world who give us these great stories to tell. Their stories are the stars of our show — and led to these two ‘miracles’ — just as the young entertainers are the stars of Idol.”

The Olympics on NBC from 8-9 p.m. featured Olympics storytelling including the free skate of Turkish figure skater, Tugba Karademir who, coming into the free skate, was in 20th place out of 24 skaters.  Also in the 8-9 p.m. hour was the ski jumping portion of the nordic combined, which, after the cross-country portion that aired later in the night, concluded with gold and silver medals for American’s Billy Demong and Johnny Spillane respectively, and coverage of the women’s giant slalom.  The 8-9 p.m. hour was the least-watched hour of NBC’s Olympic coverage last night.

On the night,  NBC’s Olympic broadcast that featured figure skating’s ladies free skate later in the broadcast, drew an average audience of 22.9 million, with a peak of 25.0 million in the 9-10 p.m. hour.  The 22.9 million was below the comparable night at the 2006 Winter Games (25.7 million, the most-watched night of the 2006 Winter Games that had American skating star Sasha Cohen leading and favored to win a gold medal skating that night).

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