Winter Olympics Rate High Among Women and Seniors

NEW YORK: More women than men have watched the Vancouver Winter Olympics, Nielsen said today. The company broke down the primetime audience for the Games, telecast on NBC Feb. 12-28. As of Feb. 21, Nielsen said women made up 56 percent of the primetime audience versus 44 percent for men.

Additionally, ratings among viewers 55 and older were 82 percent higher than the national average, while viewing among teen-agers was 57 percent below the average. Viewing by Hispanic and African-American groups was also 74 percent below the national average ratings. Geographically speaking, ratings were higher in the West Central United States, and lowest in the Southwest.

Of U.S. TV households receiving the Games, Nielsen said 55 percent were outfitted with a high-definition TV. (Presumably, all TV households can receive the Games, since they are carried over-the-air on NBC). Ratings in HD homes were 14 percent higher than the national average.

Nielsen compared the Olympics break-down to the Super Bowl for perspective. Gender was the obvious difference. For the Olympics, the rating for women watching was 9 percent above the national average, while for men, it was 9 percent lower. For the Super Bowl, women were down 11 percent, while men were up the same amount.

“Much like the Olympics, ratings for the Super Bowl were highest among older viewers, although the difference is not as wide,” Nielsen said. “Ratings among teen-agers for the Super Bowl were 20 percent lower than the national average,” compared to 57 percent for the Games. Super Bowl ratings were 6 percent higher for 18-49s and 15 percent higher for 55s and above.

Overall ratings have provided NBC with its most-watched week since the 2008 Summer Games, The Los Angeles Timesreports. The events have also yielded NBC’s biggest ratings win in prime time since the 2002 Winter Games. NBC averaged a 14.2 rating with 24.75 million nightly viewers in prime time between Feb. 15-21. The numbers were up 14 percent from the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, though down 23 percent from the comparable period of the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. During the same prime-time period this year, Fox averaged 8.68 million to come in second over all with help from “American Idol.” (See nightly ratings for the week at

(Olympics Curling image by Neal Jennings; chart from Nielsen)