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WHAT A WONDERFUL WEEK FOR CBS; TUESDAY RATINGS SLIP, THOUGH
Published February 19, 1998
CBS received a 13.5 rating for Tuesday's primetime Olympic coverage, bringing the 12-night average to 16.2 -- down 37% from Lillehammer in '94 and 14% from Albertville in '92, according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The U.S. Women's gold medal game against Canada drew a 3.4 rating on Tuesday morning from 7:00-9:00am ET, a "shade higher" than the "CBS This Morning" average of 3.1 for its weekday Olympic programming (N.Y. TIMES, 2/19). Wednesday morning's live coverage of the U.S.-Czech Republic men's hockey game from 12:45am-3:00am drew a 2.4/15 (Mult., 2/19). OUT-FOXED: USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke writes that Tuesday's numbers could indicate that "even the Olympics' traditional viewers, women, have lost interest" in the Games. He adds that CBS "now would have to be pleased" if last night's ladies figure skating short program reaches a 20-21 rating, and predicts that the final rating for the Games will "be about" a 16.5, which would be the second- lowest Winter Olympics in history to the '68 Grenoble Games (USA TODAY, 2/19). DAILY VARIETY's Tom Bierbaum writes that Tuesday was "[p]erhaps the roughest night to date" for CBS, as Fox's "Scariest Police Chases" and "Moment of Impact!" beat primetime Olympic coverage in the adult 18-49 demo, marking the first 18-49 loss for a night of Olympics coverage, summer or winter, since the '92 Albertville Games. The Games "have won every prime-time half hour to date in households," and before Tuesday, CBS had lost only five half-hours in the 18-49 category (DAILY VARIETY, 2/19). GIVE BACKS: CBS "is acknowledging what the rest of America has been saying from the start: The Winter Olympics are a dud," according to Kyle Pope of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. "Die-hard fans are tuning out," and the low ratings are "raising even bigger questions about the value of marquee sports programming." CBS may have to offer free ad time elsewhere in its schedule if it cannot "provide enough time to make up for the lousy ratings" during the Games (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/19). Some advertisers said that if CBS doesn't meet its rating guarantee of a 19.6, "they'll just factor the Olympic shortfall into future negotiations" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 2/19). AD AGE reported that CBS "could owe" its Olympic advertisers 400 30-second spots as make- goods, and that "only about half their shortfall" will be made up during the Olympics itself (AD AGE, 2/18). BRIGHT SPOT: CBS had the top eight primetime programs for the week ending February 15, including all seven primetime Olympic broadcasts, giving the net its first weekly win in adults 18-49 in four years. CBS's earned a 16.7/27 for the week, followed by NBC's 8.2/13 rating, ABC's 7.4/12 and Fox's 7.2/11 (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 2/19).