WMAQ cleans up on Olympics

NBC-owned WMAQ-TV is having a blast this month, thanks to the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Ratings for the games have more than tripled its nearest competitors in prime-time – none of which have come even close, proving the games are a big draw in Chicagoland.

For example on Saturday, the Olympics drew a 15.2 rating (share not available) on Saturday night February 13, outdrawing a Atlanta Thrashers-Chicago Blackhawks game, which did a 2.7 (which still isn’t a bad number for a Saturday night outing on WGN-TV.)

While American Idol beat The Olympics on Tuesday night, Chicagoans tuned in to the Olympics in greater numbers than Idol, which beat the Fox show 14.0 to 12.5. Historically, Idol has always underperformed in Chicago and did so this time, even with a few local area hopefuls in the mix on “Hollywood Week”. Last May, the local household rating for the American Idol finale was the fifth-worst among the 56 metered markets.

On Wednesday night, the Olympics turned the tables on Idol, handing the venerable talent show its first defeat since May 2004 – thanks in part to several Gold-medal winning performances by American athletes. The Olympics bested Idol across-the-board in households, adults 18-49, and total viewers.
Wednesday night’s Olympics also pulled in strong numbers here, with a 20.2/31 household rating/share, ranking 20th overall out of 56 metered markets, fueled in part by South Sider Shani Davis’ Gold Medal win in speedskating (Milwaukee’s WTMJ was tops with a 23.7/37.

Locally, the Olympics have averaged a 17.1 rating (though six nights), and nationally has done a 14.5 (though five nights), far higher than the network programming it usually has in prime-time.

Meanwhile in Canada, CTV continues to soar for its Olympic coverage in the host country. CTV, its owned-cable nets, and Rogers SportsNet have draw a combined 40 million viewers since the Olympics started on Friday, with CTV drawing 4.5 million in prime-time Wednesday night.

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