New York "American Idol" did a number again on the Olympics in terms of viewers Thursday, but the big winner from one of television's most competitive nights in memory may be the viewers themselves.
With choices that included the culmination of the women's figure-skating competition at the Olympics and three of television's most popular nonfiction shows, an estimated 11 million more people watched TV than normally would on a Thursday night, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research estimates.
An estimated 25.7 million people watched the Olympics in prime time Thursday, the biggest audience for one night of the Turin games so far. Traditionally, women's figure skating is the most popular winter Olympics event among TV viewers.
A special Thursday edition of "Idol" was seen by 23.4 million people between 8 and 9 p.m. EST - compared to 17.7 million for the Olympics, and 14.8 million each for "Survivor" and "Dancing With the Stars" in that hour, Nielsen said.
CBS' "Survivor" was a competitive casualty; those preliminary numbers represented the smallest audience ever for an original episode of the long-running game, Nielsen said.