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New Viewers Account For Much Of NBC’s Olympic Ratings Lift

New York -- Roughly 40% of NBC’s summer Olympics ratings boost has come from more people watching TV, with the remaining 60% gained from the Peacock Network’s competitors, according to a Turner Research analysis of Nielsen data.

TV viewership this summer overall has continued the medium’s trend of being on the rise, according to Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer for Turner Broadcasting System Inc.

During a summer-ratings press briefing at Time Warner’s headquarters in Manhattan Wednesday, Wakshlag said that even before the Olympics started this summer, adult audience delivery in primetime for both the Big Four broadcast networks and ad-supported cable had increased. Pre-Olympics summer, broadcast was up 1.1 million viewers and cable was up 1.6 million.

“Television viewing is higher than ever,” Wakshlag said. “There was more television viewing this summer than ever before. It was true before the Summer Olympics and it’s true since the Summer Olympics. The growth is driven by ad-supported cable, as is normally the case, and also this year by the Olympics on NBC.”

For this year’s Olympics, NBC’s primetime total-viewer ratings are averaging a 10.3, an increase of 8.5 rating points from 1.8 last year, according to Turner. Increased People Using Television -- or so-called PUT levels, more people watching TV – account for 38% of NBC’s ratings’ lift, Wakshlag said. NBC’s remaining roughly 60% ratings boost is coming from the hide of its competitors.

“Almost 40% of the viewing is coming from increased PUT levels, which is more television viewing,” Wakshlag said. “So 40% of NBC’s growth seems to be coming from people who don’t normally watch as much TV watching more TV, watching the Olympics, and 60% coming from the competitors.”

PUT levels this summer are at 37.0, compared with 33.8 a year ago. And NBC’s competitors in primetime are averaging a 25.0 rating this summer, compared with 29.7 in 2007. 

NBC’s primetime numbers for this summer’s Beijing games are way up versus the 2004 Athens games. For example, the opening ceremony this year did an 18.8 household rating, a 29% gain compared with the 14.6 opening-ceremony rating in 2004. And in primetime, NBC averaged a 16.7 rating, (from Aug. 8 through Aug. 17), up 8% from 15.4 in 2004 (Aug. 13 through Aug. 22 of that year), according to Turner’s analysis. 

With the Olympics Oxygen has seen a 100% gain in its total-day ratings, to a 0.2, this year versus 2004; while USA Network is up 13%, to a 0.9, versus 2004.

Ad-supported cable’s summer viewing overall has hit an all-time record, delivering 51 million viewers in primetime, up 451,000 from last year, according to Turner.

TNT’s hit drama The Closer, in its fourth season, is the No. 1 ad-supported cable series of not only the season but all time, according to Turner. The show’s been averaging 7.3 million viewers season to date, which is flat but still a strong showing since it’s been competing against the Olympics, Wakshlag said.

And USA’s scripted drama In Plain Sight is the top-rated new original series of the summer. It’s averaged 4.5 million viewers.

Turner also offered data on the most-DVRed shows. Sci Fi Channel’s Stargate Atlantis sees a 100% lift in adults 18 to 49 with viewing from DVRs added in, with Bravo’s Project Runway getting a 73% boost in that demographic, according to Turner.