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Prime-Time TV Rankings

NBC takes gold medal in Nielsens

August 27, 2008|Scott Collins | Times Staff Writer

With the Beijing Olympics drawing to a close Sunday, NBC's coverage of the Games ran away with the prime-time rankings last week.

NBC has proclaimed the Games the most-watched TV event in history, with an estimated 214 million viewers seeing at least a portion of the Summer Olympics over 17 days.

NBC's average nightly viewing during the second week of the Games declined from the first but remained high enough to crush all rivals, who for the most part wisely stepped out of the way and ran repeats.

Sunday's telecast of the closing ceremony, watched by an average of 27.8 million people, was the No. 1 program for the week ending Aug. 24, according to figures released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

The Olympics remained a consistent draw even with coverage of less-anticipated athletic events. Saturday is not typically a strong night for network TV viewing, for example, but 16.8 million still suited up for the Games.

Overall, NBC's wall-to-wall Olympic coverage in prime time averaged 23.3 million viewers for the week, piling up huge margins over CBS (5.6 million), ABC (3.6 million) and Fox (3.5 million).

The Olympics also took a bite out of three NFL preseason contests: Thursday's matchup on Fox between San Francisco and Chicago (4.6 million), Friday's Houston-Dallas face-off (4.8 million) and Saturday's Pittsburgh-Minnesota game (4.3 million), both on CBS.

On basic cable, regular programming seemed to hold up reasonably well given the Olympic competition. The week's most-watched program was TNT's crime drama "The Closer" (6.4 million).

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Here are the rankings for national prime-time network television last week (Aug. 18-24) as compiled by Nielsen Media Research. They are based on the average number of people who watched a program from start to finish. Nielsen estimates there are 286 million potential viewers in the U.S. ages 2 and older. Viewership is listed in millions.

*--* -- Program Network Viewers *--*

*--* 1 Olympics closing ceremony (Sun.) NBC 27.83 2 Olympics (Tue.) NBC 26.63 3 Olympics (Mon.) NBC 26.37 4 Olympics (Wed.) NBC 24.75 5 Olympics (Thu.) NBC 22.44 *--*

*--* 6 Beijing closing party (Sun.) NBC 20.58 7 Olympics (Fri.) NBC 17.88 8 Olympics (Sat.) NBC 16.76 9 Two and a Half Men CBS 8.16 10 NCIS CBS 7.61 *--*

*--* 11 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation CBS 7.29 12 Flashpoint CBS 7.21 13 60 Minutes CBS 6.70 14 CSI: Miami CBS 6.38 15 Big Brother (Thu.) CBS 6.17 *--*

*--* 16 Big Brother (Tue.) CBS 6.12 17 CSI: NY CBS 6.05 18 Big Brother (Sun.) CBS 6.04 19 Criminal Minds CBS 5.92 20 Cold Case CBS 5.85 *--*

*--* 21 The New Adventures of Old Christine CBS 5.75 22 The Big Bang Theory CBS 5.47 23 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition ABC 5.45 24 How I Met Your Mother CBS 5.43 25 Wipeout ABC 5.21 *--*

*--* 26 Al Diablo con Guapos (Wed.) UNI 5.06 27 Greatest American Dog CBS 4.99 28 America's Funniest Home Videos ABC 4.93 29 Preseason Football: Houston at Dallas CBS 4.82 30 Al Diablo con Guapos (Thu.) UNI 4.81 *--*

*--* 31 Fuego en La Sangre (Thu.) UNI 4.78 32 Bones FOX 4.76 33 Al Diablo con Guapos (Tue.) UNI 4.67 34 Preseason Football: San Francisco at Chicago FOX 4.61 35 Without a Trace CBS 4.55 *--*

*--* 36 Fuego en La Sangre (Wed.) UNI 4.52 37 Al Diablo con Guapos (Mon.) UNI 4.49 38 Fuego en La Sangre (Mon). UNI 4.39 39 Primetime: Medical Mysteries ABC 4.38 40 Preseason Football: Pittsburgh at Minnesota CBS 4.29 *--*

*--* 41 Fuego en la Sangre (Tue.) UNI 4.19 42 Family Guy (8:30 p.m.) FOX 4.17 -- America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back FOX 4.17 44 Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (9 p.m.) FOX 4.12 45 Fuego en la Sangre (Fri.) UNI 4.09 *--*

*--* 46 Primetime: Crime ABC 4.09 47 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (8 p.m.) ABC 4.08 48 Al Diablo con Guapos (Fri.) UNI 4.01 49 Cops (8:30 p.m.) FOX 4.00 50 20/20 ABC 3.84 *--*

*--* 51 Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (8 p.m.) FOX 3.84 -- Million Dollar Password CBS 3.84 53 Movie: "Collateral" ABC 3.79 54 Supernanny ABC 3.71 55 Friday Night Smackdown CW 3.62 *--*

*--* 56 Simpsons FOX 3.42 57 Wife Swap ABC 3.35 58 House FOX 3.30 -- Movie: "Madagascar" ABC 3.30 60 Cops FOX 3.29 *--*

*--* 61 Grey's Anatomy ABC 3.25 62 Querida Enemiga (Tue.) UNI 3.24 63 Private Practice ABC 3.18 64 Movie: "Bewitched" ABC 3.14 65 Querida Enemiga (Wed.) UNI 3.11 *--*

*--* -- Wanna Bet ABC 3.11 67 Don Francisco Presenta UNI 3.07 68 Ugly Betty ABC 3.05 69 Desperate Housewives ABC 3.01 70 Querida Enemiga (Thu.) UNI 3.00 *--*

*--* 71 Aqui y Ahora (Tue.) UNI 2.99 72 Querida Enemiga (Mon.) UNI 2.96 73 Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Wed.) FOX 2.91 74 Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Tue.) FOX 2.80 75 Rosa de Guadalupe (Thu.) UNI 2.75 *--*

*--* 76 Rosa de Guadalupe (Fri.) UNI 2.70 77 Cristina (Mon.) UNI 2.66 78 Prison Break FOX 2.46 -- Querida Enemiga (Fri.) UNI 2.46 80 Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Sun.) FOX 2.30 *--*

*--* 81 Gran Estreno UNI 2.26 82 Eli Stone ABC 2.17 *--*

*--* Network averages *--*

*--* Here is the number of viewers (in millions) that each network averaged per hour of prime time, for last week and for the season. *--*

*--* Network Last week Season to date CBS 5.64 6.58 ABC 3.61 5.68 NBC 23.27 5.88 FOX 3.51 6.33 UNI 3.36 2.02 *--*

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