Date: 3rd October 2000

Olympics Finish Down Under

Preliminary ratings results for the Summer Olympics confirmed Monday that NBC's two-week coverage produced the smallest audience in more than 30 years.

The average household rating of 13.8 is the lowest since the Mexico City Games in 1968 garnered a 13.5. It compares with a 21.6 average for the Atlanta Games four years ago and a 17.1 for the Barcelona Games four years earlier.

Attempting to put the best face possible on the results, NBC Sports' Dick Ebersol said in a statement Monday: "We live in a changing television landscape, yet the Olympics remain the strongest television franchise in the U.S. and the world."

Analysts estimated that NBC was forced to give away 36 minutes of "make goods" -- free primetime ads -- to advertisers during the last 12 days of the Games in order to offset the ratings shortfall.

The Olympics took a particularly hard pounding on closing night Sunday when they fell behind Fox's coverage of the Washington Redskins-Tampa Bay Buccaneers Game, which ran into overtime, and CBS's 60 Minutes.

Source: Studio Briefing