The Summer Olympics didn't finish as big as it started. The Hills didn't start as big as it finished.
Here are the broadcast and cable ratings highlights for the week ending Sunday, per the latest Nielsen Media Research rankings:
- The audience for the Beijing Games' closing ceremony was 25 percent smaller the opening ceremony's audience, but (1) that's normal and (2) that's still a whole lot of people. Sunday's finale averaged 27.8 million, easily the post-Michael Phelps Olympic highlight for NBC, and easily the week's top show.
- Viewership was up a whopping 42 percent over the 2004 Summer Games' closing ceremony from Athens. In all, the Beijing finale was the most-watched summertime closing ceremony since the 1996 Atlanta Games (34.1 million).
- In all, NBC said it averaged 27.7 million prime-time viewers during its 17 nights of Olympic coverage. That's up 13 percent over Athens. And that's up 269 percent—yes, 269 percent—over NBC's regular-season average for 2007-08.
- The fourth-season premiere of MTV's The Hills (3.5 million) was down (5 percent) from the third-season opener, down (26 percent) from last March's third-season, part-two opener and down (8 percent) from last May's third-season finale.
- On the upside of being down, The Hills was the dominant cable show among women 18-34. Also, Lauren Conrad's getting $75,000 an episode, regardless.
- Monday's prime-time coverage of the Democratic National Convention was watched by a combined 22.3 million on eight broadcast and cable networks. Nearly half the audience was age 55 or older, so last night's new episode of The Hills shouldn't have been terribly harmed. (Convention ratings will be reflected in next week's rankings.)
- The new Disney Channel soundtrack vehicle, The Cheetah Girls: One World, was TV's top movie of the week, averaging 6.2 million for Friday's premiere. Two weekend repeats did about as well as Camp Rock did in its first weekend, combining to pull in 6.8 million compared to Camp Rock's 7.2 million.
- Still, the Cheetah Girls can relate to the girls of The Hills. The new Cheetah Girls movie was down 21 percent from the premiere of the last Cheetah Girls movie, 2006's The Cheetah Girls 2 (7.8 million).
- Elsewhere in cable, TNT's The Closer (6.4 million) held onto No. 1; ABC Family Channel's The Secret Life of the American Teenager (3.9 million) continued to outdraw more buzzed-about teen shows, including The Hills and the CW's Gossip Girl (102 place, 1.3 million, for a rerun).
- MyNetworkTV figured out how to beat the CW: Run old Jaws movies, even the bad ones. A Tuesday-Friday Jaws marathon, spanning the 1975 Steven Spielberg original to 1987's Jaws: The Revenge, averaged 1.8 million and outdrew every single thing on the CW, save a Thursday night Smallville rerun (93rd place, 1.7 million).
For those keeping score at home, NBC cleaned up for the second straight week. Among total viewers, the network averaged 23.3 million to second-place CBS' 5.6 million. In the 18-to-49-year-old demographic, it averaged 9.7 million to CBS' 2.1 million.
In the cable network race, USA (2.8 million) edged Disney (2.7 million) as the top prime-time network.
Here's a look at the 10 most-watched broadcast network prime-time shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:
- Summer Olympics (Sunday), NBC, 27.8 million
- Summer Olympics (Tuesday), NBC, 26.6 million
- Summer Olympics (Monday), NBC, 26.4 million
- Summer Olympics (Wednesday), NBC, 24.8 million
- Summer Olympics (Thursday), NBC, 22.4 million
- Beijing Closing Party, NBC, 20.6 million
- Summer Olympics (Friday), NBC, 17.9 million
- Summer Olympics (Saturday), NBC, 16.8 million
- Two and a Half Men, CBS, 8.2 million
- NCIS, CBS, 7.6 million