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Archive for Friday, August 3, 2012

Olympics are gold for NBC

August 3, 2012

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Given NBC’s long history of low ratings, you have to imagine there are times when network executives wished they could broadcast football every night. For at least two years now, NFL coverage has offered the Peacock Network its only consistent chance to be on top.

So far, NBC’s Olympics coverage has allowed them to live that dream. Over the first three nights of the Games, the networked averaged 35.8 million viewers per night. That’s the biggest average audience for an opening weekend since they started measuring such things. The numbers are even larger than the audience for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. In entertainment terms, that’s like airing “The American Idol” finale every night for two weeks.

Many have criticized the network for airing events on a “tape delay.” And many have used NBC’s own Twitter site to vent their frustrations. But thus far, television watchers don’t seem to mind. Given the fact that the Olympic broadcasts are defying a decades-long trend of shrinking network audiences, somebody at NBC Sports is doing something right.

Gosh, has it really been a whole week since the hallucinatory opening ceremony of the London Games? Who knew the Industrial Revolution, William Blake, National Health and Mary Poppins could be shoehorned into a spectacle ending with a “hooray for digital technology” finale? The kindest thing I can say about director Danny Boyle’s “Isles of Wonder” vision is that it reminded me of something from “The Simpsons.”

Tonight’s scheduled events at the XXX Summer Olympics (7 p.m., NBC) include swimming events, most notably, the men’s 100-meter butterfly; diving, women’s volleyball, men’s trampoline and the opening night of track and field.

Tonight’s other highlights

• A coed army tangles with intergalactic insects in the 1997 satire “Starship Troopers” (6 p.m., Bravo).

• Despite its theme of leaving childhood keepsakes behind, the 2010 Pixar fantasy “Toy Story 3” (7 p.m., Disney) attracted droves of viewers who were just toddlers when the first “Story” debuted in 1995.

• Kevin Costner stars in the 1987 update of Prohibition-era gangster drama “The Untouchables” (7 p.m., AMC).

• Wayward rattlesnakes on “Swamp Wars” (8 p.m., Animal Planet).

• Wes has disturbing dreams on “Common Law” (9 p.m., USA).

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