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More on NBC delaying Olympics broadcasts in western states

August 17, 2008 |  5:28 pm

This combination of photos shows Michael Phelps holding each of the eight gold medals he won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Beijing Games organizers agreed to juggle Olympics swimming trials and finals, a move that allowed the popular finals to staged at times that fit more easily into NBC's stateside primetime broadcast schedule.

Folks in Eastern states watched live on NBC each time Michael Phelps emerged from the water with another Olympic gold medal. But there was grumbling in the West among some viewers frustrated by NBC's decision to delay broadcasts for three hours to give them primetime exposure nationwide.

National ratings for NBC's first nine primetime broadcasts (as measured by Nielsen Media Research) averaged 17.4 (live in ET/delayed in PT). That's the highest nine-day rating for a Summer Olympics staged outside the U.S. since the 1992 Barcelona Games enjoyed an 18.6 rating.

NBC's delaying tactics in the West seem to be working. Here are the ratings by time zone:

Eastern Time Zone:      18.6
Central Time Zone:      19.4
Mountain Time Zone:     22.7
Pacific Time Zone:      20.3

The Los Angeles and San Francisco Nielsen-metered markets are tied with 20.5, a rating that noticeably lags such markets as Salt Lake City (24.7) and Minneapolis (24.5).

But 20.5 is higher than ratings in such East Coast markets as New York (17.1), Boston (16.8), Philadelphia (17.9) and Miami (19.4). The two California markets fell noticeably below Phelps' hometown of Baltimore, which generated a 23.5 rating.

Here's what an NBC spokesman in Beijing had to say early on Monday morning about the ratings:

Prior to each Olympics we do extensive research. And that research shows that our audience wants to see the Olympics when they're available to watch it -- and that's in primetime. The ratings reflect that.

Stay tuned.

-- Greg Johnson

Photo: This combination of photos shows Michael Phelps holding each of the eight gold medals he won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Credit: Associated Press Photo

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