The overnight ratings for Canada’s 1-0 victory over the United States in the men’s ice hockey semifinal won’t be available until Saturday morning. But NBCUniversal, which aired the much-anticipated game live on NBC Sports Network, was already giddy about its viewership across all platforms Friday, quickly noting that 700,000 concurrent live streams were tuned into the game online at NBCOlympics.com
The Sochi Olympics have been a relative ratings success for NBC Sports Network. The cable sports network, which was still branded as Versus four years ago during the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver, has seen increased viewership from all of the first 13 days of its coverage from London two years ago. NBCSN has benefited from the decision to show every figure skating performance live.
Over on the NBC mothership in prime time, ratings have been on the rise — no surprise with figure skating, albeit tape-delayed, prominently involved — after brief early hiccups.
The ratings last Saturday — the second Saturday of these Games — were down 33 percent from the week before, which was the day after the Opening Ceremony. NBC had an uninspiring 9.6 household rating, a 17 share, and 17.1 million viewers last Saturday against little prime-time competition.
NBC did rally with a podium-worthy week, putting up huge numbers on Monday and Wednesday in particular. The tape-delayed, prime-time telecast Monday featured team ice dancing and the gold-medal performance of Charlie White and Meryl Davis. Their quest to become the first US ice dancing duo to win the gold was heavily promoted and paid off in a big way — it was the most-watched second Monday (meaning the second week of the Olympics) since the live Salt Lake City Games in 2002, checking in at 13.8/21, with 23.5 million viewers.
Further, it was the most dominant Monday in terms of viewership in the September-May television season by any network compared with the combined performance of the other major networks since the 1998 Academy Awards — the year of the Titanic phenomenon.
Wednesday was even better. The telecast, which featured the women’s figure skating short program, was also the most-watched on that particular day since 2002, with a 12.2 household rating, 20 share, and 20.2 million viewers, topping their numbers from Vancouver four years ago and Turin in 2006.
It did not, however, approach the audience from Salt Lake City 12 years ago, which had a 19.5/31 with 32 million viewers. NBC also won the night Thursday (12.0/19, 19.2 million viewers) despite not having an individual medal at stake for a US figure skater.
Through Wednesday, NBC’s Olympic coverage accounted for seven of the top 20 most-watched programs on television this week. NBC has been beaten on the last two Sundays by original episodes of the AMC ratings powerhouse The Walking Dead.Chad Finn can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.