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Tape-delayed Games score a hit

Feb 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

NBC affiliates in the Pacific time zone who had to argue long and hard to win network agreement for the Winter Olympics to be carried tape-delayed on the West Coast, were grinning last week like ski jumpers leaning into a 100 mph headwind.
Prime-time ratings were averaging 9 percent higher than the network was doing nationally in metered markets through the first week of the Salt Lake City Games.
Nowhere was that trend more important than in the San Francisco market, where the affiliate switch from the familiar KRON-TV to the more distant KNTV-TV in San Jose, Calif., had created reception problems for NBC in some pockets of the Bay area.
“The little station people thought couldn’t is leading all our owned stations,” said NBC President Andy Lack, referring to KNTV, which NBC agreed to buy from Granite Broadcasting late last year.
KNTV was averaging a 7.3 rating/12 share on pre-Olympics sweeps nights of Jan. 31 to Feb. 7, just behind CBS-owned KPIX-TV and Cox-owned Fox affiliate KTVU-TV. For the Olympics nights of Feb. 8 to Feb. 13, KNTV vaulted to an average of 20.7/34. The halo effect also boosted KNTV’s late news to first place with a 9.9/24 average .
“We’re feeling very good,” said Mr. Lack after he and NBC Stations President Jay Ireland made a congratulatory visit to KNTV in the middle of last week.
“I am thrilled with the West Coast numbers,” said Jack Sander, the Belo executive who, as head of the NBC affiliate advisory board, had lobbied the network to let West Coast stations shift the Olympics coverage since the Games occur during sweeps. “The decision was the correct one, and it’s paying off for the viewers, network and local stations.”
Through Day 6 of the Games, the metered markets in the Pacific time zone were averaging a 22.3 rating, while the national metered-market average was a 20.4.
Another decision that’s paying off is repeats of prime-time Olympics coverage overnight. In the major markets that Nielsen Media Research’s overnight sampling comprises, Olympics repeats scored a 2.0/13 over the first five weekdays of the Games. That’s up 150 percent from the 0.8 average for usual slot occupants “Tonight” and “Late Night” repeats.