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NBC's Thursday rating stalls for second night in a row

August 15, 2008 |  6:26 pm

Nastia Liukin during the womens gymnastics all-around final at Beijing's National Indoor Stadium on Thursday while on her way to the gold medal.

Thursday night marked the second night in a row that NBC's prime-time Beijing Games broadcast numbers fell below the numbers spun off by the comparable night of programming during the 2004 Athens Games.

The Thursday night broadcast, seen live in the East and on a three-hour delay in the West, generated a 17.9 rating, according to Nielsen Media Research data, down from 19.3 for the like night's Athens broadcast. The average television audience fell to 29.7 million from 31.7 million.

That  broadcast from Athens, which included Carly Patterson becoming the first American since Mary Lou Retton in 1984 to win the all-around gold medal in women's gymnastics, finished as the highest-rated prime-time night for NBC during the entire Athens Games.

NBC's Thursday night broadcast from Beijing did feature Michael Phelps winning his sixth gold medal of the Beijing Games, as well as Nastia Liukin becoming the third U.S. woman to win the all-around individual gold in gymnastics -- behind Patterson and Retton.

Despite the double dip, NBC's Thursday ratings press release boasted that its seven-night average for prime-time broadcasts "beat the average combined totals of the other three networks by 171%: CBS (5.1 million), ABC (3.2 million) and Fox (3.0 million)."

-- Greg Johnson

Photo: Nastia Liukin during the women's gymnastics all-around final at Beijing's National Indoor Stadium on Thursday en route to the gold medal. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/US PRESSWIRE

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