The Olympics as News and NBC’s Big Saturday Night

By Chris Ariens 

The AP’s David Bauder adds up how much of the news hole the Olympics filled on the network newscasts this weekend. On Sunday:

The “CBS Evening News” led with a report on the offensive in Afghanistan and the shooting at an Alabama college; it had less than two minutes of Olympics news wrapped into a single report. “World News” on ABC led with Sunday’s bickering between Vice President Joe Biden and his predecessor, Dick Cheney, and the Afghanistan story. David Muir did an Olympics wrap-up.

“The eyes of the world are on Vancouver,” said NBC News spokeswoman Lauren Kapp. “In every broadcast we produce, we select what we feel best reflects the news of the day. The level of our coverage is completely appropriate for what is the biggest international planned event of the year.”

No one would say the Olympics aren’t news; NBC’s ratings attest to public interest in the games. And if NBC News can be accused of hyping Olympics news, it could also be argued that ABC and CBS don’t want to play it up to give its rival more attention.

But anyone who wanted a brief respite from the Olympics to watch Williams explore the rest of the world didn’t have much chance Sunday.

Meanwhile, NBC enters the week with great Olympics ratings news from the weekend. Bauder: “Saturday’s telecast, which featured [Apolo] Ohno’s silver medal performance and [Hannah] Kearney capturing the country’s first gold medal in Vancouver, was seen by 26.2 million people, according to the Nielsen Co. That was more than any night of NBC’s coverage in Turin, Italy, four years ago.”