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Winter Olympics: NBC Primetime Tops Torino by 19%, Trails Vancouver by 7% through First Week

The average audience for NBC’s primetime presentations through the first week of the Sochi Games was up 19% from the Torino Olympics and 7% behind the mostly live action from Vancouver in 2010.

Meanwhile, more than half of all American have watched the 2014 Winter Olympics on the networks of NBCUniversal and NBCSN continues to register record viewership.

Through Thursday Feb. 13, 150.9 million Americans watched some portion of the Sochi Games on NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, MSNBC and USA., according to Nielsen fast cume data. The total includes those who watched NBC’s Feb. 6 “bonus” coverage of three sports making their Olympic debut, which marked the first-ever Winter Olympics telecast prior to an Opening Ceremony that aired on Feb. 7. NBCSN and MSNBC initiated their coverage the following day, while CNBC and USA started theirs on Monday, Feb. 10.

Some 204 million watched part of CBS’s coverage from Lillehammer, Norway in 1994, when interest was fueled by the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan controversy, while the Vancouver Games garnered 190 million watchers to stand second among Winter quadrenniums.

NBC from the Opening Ceremony through Feb. 13 averaged a 13.9 household rating/22 share and 24.8 million viewers with its curated primetime presentations from Sochi. That compared with a 12.4/20 and 20.9 million viewers from Torino in 2006, the last time the Winter Games were hosted in Europe, and a 14.8/24 share and 26.6 million viewers from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Those performances gave Sochi a 19% audience advantage over Torino, but trailed Vancouver's by 7%

On Thursday night from 8 p.m. to 11:03 p.m. NBC -- its coverage highlighted by the American skiing slopestyle sweep from Joss Christensen,  Gus Kenworthy and Nicholas Goepper (pictured) -- posted a 13.4 household rating/21 share, topping the comparable night in Torino by 13% (11.9/19). The Feb. 13 presentation drew 22.9 million viewers, 18% more than the 19.4 million who watched on the corresponding night during 2006. Each of the Peacock’s seven  primetime Sochi deliveries (excluding the “bonus” night) has exceeded the corresponding viewership from Torino, while the ratings won six times and matched the other night.

Measured against 2010, Sochi was down from the 14.5/24 and 24.8 million on the first Thursday from the Vancouver Games.

The deficit was far greater on Wednesday, when ratings info were delayed by Nielsen. NBC’s Feb. 12 primetime telecast averaged 20.8 million viewers and a 12.1/19 compared with 29.4 million watchers and a 16.7/27 from the comparable night in Vancouver, when skier Lindsey Vonn, snowboarding Shaun White and speedskater Shani Davis all won gold as part of a Winter Olympics-record, six-medal haul for Team USA.

Sochi garnered respective increases of 16% and 7% over the 17.9 million viewers and 11.3/18 from the corresponding night in Torino.   

NBC’s Olympics late-night show averaged 6.9 million viewers for its six telecasts through Thursday – making it the most-watched Winter Olympics late-night show through this juncture since the 1992 Albertville Games on CBS. Viewership for the Sochi late-night show was up 38% and 35% over Vancouver and Torino, respectively.

NBCSN continued its record-breaking streak Thursday – tallying its sixth consecutive day of viewer milestones. The national sports cable service averaged a weekday best-ever 1.4 million viewers from 6 a.m.-3 p.m., a time period that featured the U.S. men’s hockey team’s Sochi debut and men’s figure skating. Earlier in the week, NBCSN set daily weekday viewership marks for its live Monday through Wednesday coverage and weekend daytime records for its Saturday and Sunday telecasts, when gauged against its first-ever Olympic telecasts during the 2012 Summer Games from London.

NBC Sports Live Extra, the programmer’s streaming app, counted 6.9 million minutes of live streaming during the U.S. men’s hockey team’s 7-1 victory over Slovakia on Thursday, a record for a TV Everywhere-authenticated hockey game, according to NBCU officials.