SBD/23/Olympics

NBC RATINGS THROUGH THE ROOF, REVIEWS CONTINUE MIXED

     NBC reported a 22.9 national rating and a 42 share for
Sunday's prime time coverage, a 27% increase over Barcelona's
first Sunday night of coverage.  For the first three nights of
the Games, NBC has averaged a 21.4/42, up 32% from the first
weekend in '92.  Among women 18-34, NBC gained a 16.1 on Sunday
night, and a 14.1 cumulative over the first weekend.  Both
numbers are up significantly over Barcelona (NBC Sports).  NBC
Sports President Dick Ebersol said he would be "shocked" if
Thursday night's ratings (women's gymnastics all-around finals)
were not the highest of the Games.  Ebersol, Exec Producer Tommy
Roy and Coordinating Producer David Neal "appeared downright
giddy" after the success and the ratings for the opening weekend
(Prentis Rogers, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/23).
     LAST NIGHT'S PRELIMS:  According to Nielsen Sports Marketing
Service, NBC gained an 8.8/28 overnight for its daytime coverage,
a 26.0/42 for its prime time, and a 9.6/31 for late night.  NOTE:
As these numbers are preliminary overnights, they may not match
later figures cited either by the network or other news outlets
(THE DAILY).
     GOOD REVIEWS:  In Sacramento, Rick Kushman writes that TV's
job "is to show us everything and stay out of the way.  So far,
NBC has done at least that" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 7/22).  In
Philadelphia, Mike Bruton calls NBC "masterful" in "weaving
gripping stories and having its hosts and reporters on top of
every twist and turn" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 7/23).
     SO, SO REVIEWS:  In DC, Tom Shales:  "If the Games are as
earthshaking as NBC keeps saying they are, then they merit better
coverage than NBC is giving them" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/23).  In
Minneapolis, Noel Holston writes, despite NBC's pledges to show
as much as possible, "anybody who watched much of the first three
days knows the network is doing nothing of the sort" (Minneapolis
STAR TRIBUNE, 7/23).  NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay notes the "endless"
NBC promos in addition to nine minutes of ads per hour (NEWSDAY,
7/23).
     ANNOUNCER GRADES:  After giving high marks to gymnastics and
swimming announcers, the L.A. TIMES' Larry Stewart criticizes the
cycling coverage and announcer Al Trautwig for going "overboard
with the dramatics, while forgetting about basic reporting" (L.A.
TIMES, 7/22).  In K.C., Randy Covitz makes the case for Bill
Walton -- not Magic Johnson -- to be the third man on NBC's
basketball crew (K.C. STAR, 7/22). In St. Pete, Ernest Hooper
writes that John Tesh is getting a "bad rap."  Hooper:  "As long
as it is genuine, I prefer too much emotion as opposed to not
enough" (ST. PETERSBURG TIME, 7/22).  In Washington, Tom Shales
writes, "For the most part, Tesh is showing a  previously
suppressed dignity" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/23).  In Boston, Jack
Craig calls it "highly presumptuous" for Jim Gray to label 14-
year-old silver medalist Amanda Beard as "America's sweetheart"
(BOSTON GLOBE, 7/23).
     NOSE FOR NEWS?  The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Alexandra Peers:
"While wire services and newspapers are chock full of tales of
the credential foul-ups, heat stroke and transportation
nightmares besetting Atlanta, it's Never-Never Land on NBC" (WALL
STREET JOURNAL, 7/23).  NBC Sports spokesperson Ed Markey said he
"didn't think much of the transportation story."  But ACOG's
problems were covered by NBC News (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/23).
Ernest Hooper:  "All is not well in Atlanta, but you would not
know by watching NBC's prime-time broadcast" (ST. PETERSBURG
TIMES, 7/23).
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