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Despite big drop near finish, Ch. 2 is eighth in nation in prime time for Olympics

Western New Yorkers were more interested in the Pyeongchang Olympics than much of the nation, but interest dropped sharply here in the final three days of prime time coverage.

Over the 18 days of coverage, WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) averaged a 13.0 rating, down about 13 percent from the 15.0 rating it averaged for the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

Channel 2 researcher Jon May reports the NBC affiliate's household rating was 18 percent higher than the metered average in the top 56 markets in prime time, and Channel 2 finished No. 8 in the country.

Channel 2 also was No. 2 in household ratings for weekday coverage and 54 percent higher than the average in 56 metered markets. It also was No. 2 in weekend day coverage, which was 43 percent higher than the average in 56 metered markets. It was No. 8 and 35 percent higher than the average in 56 metered markets for the overnight repeats of prime time coverage.

Those are all impressive numbers. NBC also listed Buffalo as No. 8 in household ratings when it combined the prime time coverage on its cable sports network, NBCSN.

It also is rare for any entertainment program these days to get a 13.0 live rating in prime time.

However, the ratings dropped almost 20 percent for the final three nights compared to 2014 and the ratings slipped into single digits Saturday and for the closing ceremonies Sunday.

On Saturday, the Olympics had a 7.8 rating in prime time for the final night of competition, down from a 10.8 in 2014.

The closing ceremonies Sunday had an 8.9 rating, a sharp drop from the 12.3 rating for the closing ceremonies in Sochi.

The big winner in these Olympics may have been the National Football League, whose declining ratings this past season have been put in better perspective by the drop in Olympics ratings. After all, NBC reportedly paid more than $12 billion for the rights on 10 Olympics starting in 2011. That's more than a $1 billion per Olympics.

A variety of factors may have played in the local and national ratings decline, including the 14-hour time difference that pushed key live events near 11 p.m. in the Eastern time zone and the disappointing overall American performance.

One of the most compelling team events – the United States women's hockey team victory over Canada for the gold medal that ended in a shootout – did not end until around 2:45 a.m. in the morning on NBCSN in the Eastern time zone.

Things may get worse for NBC in future Olympics if rival networks feel the network is vulnerable and choose to compete with original episodes of entertainment programs rather than just put reruns and reality shows on against them, as they did during the South Korea Games.

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