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CBS'S FINAL NUMBER OF 16.2 MARKS THIRD LOWEST WINTER GAMES
Published February 24, 1998
CBS's primetime coverage of the Nagano Games averaged a 16.2/26, which is down 13% from Albertville in '92 and down 42% from Lillehammer in '94. CBS estimates that 184 million viewers watched all or part of the Games, making it the third most-watched event in TV history, trailing only Atlanta in '96 and Lillehammer in '94. In the February Sweep-to-date, CBS has a 16.0/25, which is 70% ahead of NBC's 9.4/15, 122% ahead of ABC's 7.2/11 and 103% ahead of Fox's 7.9/12. CBS announced that its O&O stations averaged a 17.5/27 for their primetime coverage, boosting ten of the 13 O&O's to first place in their respective markets (CBS Sports). Sunday's Closing Ceremony earned an 11.7/18 from 8:00-11:00pm ET, and was beat out by ABC's telecast of "Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding," which scored a 16.9/26 from 9:00-11:00pm ET (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 2/24). PLACE IN HISTORY: USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke notes the 16.2 rating makes its the third-lowest Winter Olympics in history. Grey Advertising's Jon Mandel: "By not running events, CBS lost the men, and because the warm-and-fuzzy pieces weren't so warm and fuzzy, women didn't watch" (USA TODAY, 2/24). Sanford C. Bernstein & Sons' Tom Wolzien said CBS was the "victim of just plain bad luck ... plus, you had some very aggressive counter-programming from the other networks. ... I think there were some very sophisticated programming tactics that were used this time" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/24). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes, "By various measures, the ... Games were highly successful." The net posted strong February sweeps numbers, did well with its O&Os and David Letterman's "Late Show" beat out NBC's "Tonight Show" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/24). DAILY VARIETY's Rich Katz writes that industry observers called CBS's performance "disappointing," but said it "would still benefit the net." Katz adds that CBS "will turn a profit" on the Games, since by adding "additional commercial times into its Olympic coverage late in the second week, CBS helped ensure it would not lose money on the event." Katz notes "several" analysts predict CBS will see a $30M profit (DAILY VARIETY, 2/24).