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Olympics TV Ratings Down from 1988

August 10, 1992

NEW YORK (AP) _ NBC’s prime-time events coverage of the Barcelona Olympics finished with a 17.5 rating, Nielsen Media Research said Monday, higher than the network’s projection but down slightly from the Seoul Games of 1988.

The rating for the 14 nights of events broadcasts was down 2 percent from the 17.9 for the 14 nights four years ago. However, it was 3 percent greater than NBC’s 16.9 projection and 14 percent greater than its 15.3 guarantee to advertisers.

The share was a 34, up 6 percent from Seoul despite the lower rating, due to a decrease of television viewing in the summer. The 1988 Games were held in late September.

The rating is the percentage of television households in the United States and each share represents 921,000 homes. The share is the percentage of televisions on at the time.

NBC’s rating would have been even higher if not for a severe second-week dropoff after the conclusion of gymnastics, swimming and diving. The rating for the first week was 19.2, up 8 percent from the 1988 Games.

NBC, which paid $401 million for rights to the Games and spent about $100 million more to produce them, still expects to lose $50 million on the Olympics, primarily of its TripleCast fiasco. The TripleCast, expected by NBC to be bought by 2 million homes, was purchased by about 125,000 and lost approximately $100 million. Cablevision Systems Inc., NBC’s cable partner, is responsible for $50 million of the loss.

Despite the monetary loss, the ratings result was better than NBC’s figures at Seoul. The 1988 Summer Games fell significantly below its 21.2 prime-time guarantee, forcing NBC to give advertisers make-good time worth millions of dollars.

NBC’s 161 hours of broadcasts - including mornings, late nights and weekend afternoons - got an 11.4 rating and a 31 share. The rating was 11 percent above NBC’s guarantee of 10.3 and 2 percent above the 11.2 rating at Seoul.

The rating for 30 hours of weekend afternoons was 10.6, 19 percent above the 8.9 guarantee and 26 percent greater than the 8.4 at Seoul.

NBC’s morning rating was 5.1 rating, 16 percent above its 4.4 guarantee and equal to the rating at Seoul.

The late-night rating, however, was down significantly. While the network got a 7.9 rating at Seoul, when events were telecast live to the West Coast, it got a 5.2 rating in Barcelona, a 34-percent drop. Still, it was 4 percent above NBC’s 5.0 guarantee.

Nielsen said NBC’s rating for Sunday’s closing ceremony was a 14.2, up 15 percent from the Seoul Games.

NBC estimated 192 million people and 88 percent of U.S. television households tuned in to part of the Olympics.

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