The winter Olympics proved no match for television's gold-medal
winner, "American Idol."
The winter Olympics proved no match for television's gold-medal winner,
"American Idol." Fox's phenomenally successful contest crushed the Olympics in
head-to-head competition on Tuesday night, 27 million viewers to 16.1 million,
according to Nielsen Media Research.
The Olympics recovered a bit after "Idol" went off the air, but its overall
audience of 18.6 million was the least-watched winter Olympics telecast since
Nagano's closing ceremonies in 1998, Nielsen said.
Since its opening on Friday, the Turin games have been running well below the
2002 Salt Lake City games in viewership interest. Much of that was expected, but
Tuesday's rating was the first alarming sign for NBC that increased TV
competition has taken a
"The competition from
`Idol' is heavier than the Olympics has ever seen," said NBC Sports spokeswoman
It doesn't figure to get any easier, with "Idol" and ABC's "Lost" on the air
Wednesday. CBS' "Survivor" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" offer more
competition on Thursday.
Even figure skating, the most popular winter Olympics sport for viewers,
didn't help much on Tuesday. NBC filled about two-thirds of the hour during
which it competed with "American Idol" with tape of the men's figure-skating
Through five nights of Olympics coverage, NBC's average prime-time rating is
12.7 (a rating point represents 1,102,000 households, or 1 percent of the
nation's estimated 110.2 million TV homes). NBC said before the games started
that it had promised its advertisers a rating of between 12 and 14. If it slips
below that, NBC will have to make it up to
advertisers with free commercial time.
"`American Idol' is clearly a phenomenon," said Randy Falco, president of the
NBC Universal Television Group. "But we expected it and are tracking right where
we planned to be at this point."
Between NBC and its affiliated cable networks, an estimated 65 percent of the
nation's television homes have tuned
in at least some of the games, Falco