Olympics a ratings bonanza for NBC, but network still sees losing money


NBC's Olympic coverage is scoring big ratings with viewers so far, a relief to the network still recovering from the whole" fire Conan O'Brien to get Jay Leno back on the Tonight Show" debacle.

For the first three days of coverage for the Winter Games live from Vancouver, the network averaged 28.6 million viewers per day, a 25 percent jump from the 2006 Torino Games. Including viewers who at least sampled (watched for at least six minutes,) NBC had an audience of 117 million viewers throughout the first three days of coverage.

The average is the highest non-U.S. Winter Games rating since 1994's Lillehammer Games, which received a nice boost in viewership after figure skater Tonya Harding and her intellectually challenged husband conspired to whack fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan on the knee.

The horrific death of Georgian luge racer Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run on Friday may have also helped boost viewership of the Olympic Games opening weekend.

NBC's website NBCOlympics.com is also up 250 percent from the Torlno games.

Still, NBCU expects to lose around $250 million on its Olympic Coverage due to slow ad sales and overpayment for the rights to broadcast the games. NBCU paid $820 million for the TV rights to the Vancouver Games and is only expecting to bring in around $670 million in advertising revenue.