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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPICS

NBC's Ratings for Tuesday Are Lowest for Summer Games in at Least 16 Years

September 28, 2000|Associated Press

NBC's Olympics ratings tumbled to a new low.

The network's 12th night of coverage from Sydney had the worst rating for Summer Games competition in at least 16 years.

The network's taped telecast, including the gymnastics champions' gala, diving, and a U.S. gold-medal victory in beach volleyball, drew a 12.4 rating and 21 share Tuesday night.

That's 23% below what advertisers were told the Sydney Olympics would average and even further off the 17.5 to 18.5 rating NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol predicted.

The 12.4 rating was what Nielsen Media Research measured from 7:30 p.m. to midnight Tuesday. NBC's nightly show starts at 7 p.m., but it can cut the amount of time Nielsen measures--thereby increasing the average rating--by waiting to run national ads until later in the evening.

NBC has done that for seven of the nights of the Olympics, including the last five.

"We knew we were going to exercise this option," NBC spokeswoman Cameron Blanchard said. "All networks do it."

With the Sept. 15 opening ceremony, NBC started its Nielsen measurement at 8 p.m.--and no night of competition has topped the 16.1 rating the network earned that night.

The cumulative ratings so far are 36% lower than for the 1996 Atlanta Games, and 19% lower than for the 1988 Seoul Games--the last time the Summer Olympics were this late in the year.

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