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February 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The first night of Winter Olympics coverage on NBC Thursday delivered everything that the network could have hoped for. (The official opening ceremonies are due to be broadcast tonight.) Up against strong competition from CBS’s comedy lineup and Fox’s American Idol, the Sochi games averaged 19.56 million viewers in primetime, according to overnight Nielsen ratings, and a 5.8 rating and a 16 share among adults 18-49. Viewership peaked in the 9:30 p.m. half hour with 21.15 million viewers and a 6.2/16 in the key age group. It was the best Thursday-night showing for any broadcast network since NBC aired the opening game of the NFL season beween the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos last Sept. 5. CBS’s The Big Bang Theory proved to be a valiant challenger in the 8:00 p.m. hour, as it posted 17.20 million viewers but Fox’s American Idol took a beating, dropping to just 10.9 million viewers, a series low. The lead-in helped give Jay Leno a rousing send-off. His final telecast as host of the Tonight show scored a 9.2 household rating/22 share in the preliminary results, the show’s best since March 19, 2009, when President Obama became the first sitting president to appear on a late-night talk show. Nielsen has indicated it will convert those figures to millions of viewers later today.