Olympics Coverage Dominates Ratings

No one was happier to see the Olympics (search) flame flicker out than executives at ABC, CBS and Fox.

The games so thoroughly dominated the network landscape for 17 days that NBC won each and every half-hour in prime time against its broadcast rivals, Nielsen Media Research (search) said Tuesday.

An average of 24.6 million people watched the games in each evening. That was a 14 percent increase over the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Viewers showed a few signs of boredom last week, as the final five Olympic telecasts failed to beat that average. Sunday's closing ceremony was seen by 19.6 million people.

The opening of the fall season is in sight. NBC even scheduled the debut of "Father of the Pride" (search) Tuesday.

Thirteen of the most-watched non-Olympics programs last week were on CBS, including the network's own game: The fifth edition of "Amazing Race" (search) has been a summer success.

NBC averaged prime-time 22 million viewers in last week (13.7 rating, 23 share). CBS was a distant second with 7.4 million (5.0, 9). ABC had 4.5 million (1.6, 3), Fox 3.2 million (2.9, 5), UPN 2.5 million (1.8, 3), the WB 2.3 million (1.6, 3) and Pax TV 730,000 (0.5, 1).

Buoyed by the Olympics, NBC's "Nightly News" crushed its evening news competition, averaging 10 million viewers (7.1 rating, 15 share). ABC's "World News Tonight" had 7.6 million (5.4, 11) and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.9 million (4.9, 10).

A ratings point represents 1,084,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 108.4 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Aug. 23-29, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "Summer Olympics" (Monday), NBC, 25.9 million; "Summer Olympics" (Tuesday), NBC, 25 million; "Summer Olympics" (Wednesday), NBC, 24.3 million; "Summer Olympics" (Thursday), NBC, 21.5 million; "Summer Olympics" (Friday), NBC, 20.1 million; "Summer Olympics Closing Ceremonies" NBC, 19.6 million; "Summer Olympics" (Saturday), NBC, 18 million; "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 12.6 million; "Amazing Race 5," CBS, 10.5 million; "Without a Trace," CBS, 10.5 million.