Date: 20th September 2000

NBC Wins While Losing

The opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Sydney Friday night helped NBC garner a rare ratings victory last week, according to Nielsen Media Research.

But although the Olympics usually dominate the ratings list every four years, Sunday's games coverage ranked third, beaten out by the Tuesday-night episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. In an interview with Bloomberg News NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol blamed the ratings downturn on poor performances by American gymnasts and radio reports about the outcome of the events that are airing prior to the taped telecasts.

Some analysts had a different explanation. "Prepackaged games are simply not as compelling and dramatic as live events," True North Communications exec Steve Sternberg told today's Wall Street Journal. For the week, NBC wound up with a 10.7 average rating and an 18 share. ABC won the silver with a 7.2/12, while CBS took the bronze with a 6.9/10. Fox finished out of the money with a 4.3/7. (Its highest-rated show, The Simpsons, finished in 36th place.

The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:

1. Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies, NBC, 16.2/29; 2. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (Tuesday), ABC, 14.9/25; 3. Summer Olympics Sunday, NBC, 14.6/24; 4. Summer Olympics Saturday, NBC, 13.1/25; 5. Millionaire (Thursday), ABC, 12.7/20; 6. NFL Monday Night Football, ABC, 12.2/21; 7. Millionaire (Sunday), ABC, 11.4/17; 8. NFL Monday Showcase, ABC, 10.0/17; 9. Law and Order, NBC, 9.6/17; 10. West Wing, NBC, 8.8/14.

Source: Studio Briefing