Sunday Draws Best Olympic Ratings

(AP)

NBC scored its highest-rated night of competition from the Sydney Olympics on Sunday, as an estimated 64 million people tuned in for at least part of the show.

Sunday's telecast drew a 16.1 rating, a figure matched only by the Sept. 15 opening ceremony, and a 26 share.

The rating was 10 percent higher than for the previous Sunday's coverage, and 19 percent higher than Saturday's. It is also well above the 14.7 cumulative rating for NBC's evening broadcasts from Australia so far.

That cumulative number, though, remains 9 percent under what advertisers were told the Olympics would generate. It is also 35 percent below where the 1996 Atlanta Games were to this stage and 17 percent below the 1988 Seoul Games - the last time the Summer Games were this late in the year.

Sunday night's program peaked from 10-10:30 p.m. with a 19.3/29.

Through the first 10 days of the games, seven of the 10 highest-rated large markets are in the Mountain or Pacific time zones, topped by Salt Lake City - site of the 2002 Olympics - with a 22.7/41.

Those time zones see NBC's taped coverage of Olympic events with a greater lag than viewers on the East Coast, which is 15 hours behind Sydney.

"We have repeatedly said the tape-delay would not be a major issue for most Olympic viewers and the numbers are bearing this out," NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said.

Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest TV market, is averaging a 19.1/33. New York, the largest, is averaging a 16.3/26.

CNBC's Olympics coverage went up a 10th of a point to a 0.7 rating, while MSNBC remained at a 0.8 for Friday, the most recent day for which cable figures are available.

Each rating point represents a little more than 1 million TV homes for NBC, 760,000 for CNBC, and 650,000 for MSNBC. The share is the percentage of in-use TVs tuned to a given program.