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Winter Olympics draw second-largest audience

NBC says 190 million people watched some part of Vancouver Games. Lillehamer Olympics in 1994 were most-watched Winter Games.

March 01, 2010|By Diane Pucin
  • Sidney Crosby is mobbed by teammates after he scored the winning goal in overtime Sunday in Canada's 3-2 victory over the U.S. in the men's hockey final at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Canada thus earned the gold medal and the U.S. took the silver.
Sidney Crosby is mobbed by teammates after he scored the winning goal in… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

According to the Nielsen ratings released by NBC on Monday afternoon, 190 million people watched some part of the Vancouver Olympics on the various networks of NBC, making it the second-most-watched Winter Games.

The Games surpassed the 2002 Salt Lake City Games but trailed the 1994 Lillehammer Games, which were highlighted by the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan controversy. The Lillehammer Olympics had 204 million viewers; the Salt Lake City Olympics had 187 million.

In Canada, CTV reported that 22 million people, about two-thirds of the Canadian population, watched as the Canadian Olympic hockey team defeated the United States for the gold medal Sunday. It was the most-watched television broadcast in Canadian history.

NBC reported that the game drew an average viewership of 27.6 million, the most-watched hockey broadcast since the gold-medal game between the U.S. and Finland in 1980. In Los Angeles, the game got a preliminary rating of 12.6, more than double the 4.95 preliminary rating of the Lakers on ABC.

During the 17 nights of Olympic coverage that ended Sunday, NBC drew more total viewers than ABC, CBS and Fox combined. The Games beat " American Idol" once, the first time since 2004 that the Fox juggernaut show has been bested.

The top 10 markets overall in the 17-day average of Olympic viewing: 1. Salt Lake City, 2. Denver, 3. Milwaukee, 4. Seattle, 5. Minneapolis, 6. St. Louis, 7. Columbus, 8. San Diego and West Palm Beach, 10. Portland. Los Angeles ranked 48th of 56 measured markets.

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