Olympics 2012: 'Today' Enjoys a Much-Needed Ratings Rebound During First Week

Today Show London Olympics - H 2012

Today Show London Olympics - H 2012

After a summer that's seen a highly publicized host shake-up, the end of a nearly 17-year winning streak in viewers and the key demo and, most recently, a rather frantic (and quickly rebuked) story about going into crisis mode, NBC's Today has something to brag about this week.

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During the first four days of Olympic coverage, the morning show maintained a significant lead above Good Morning America -- on some days posting its best margins of victory for the entire year and nearly 6 million viewers on three occasions.

Fast affiliate ratings give the London-based broadcasts average audiences of 5.9 million (Monday), 5.67 million (Tuesday), 5.908 million (Wednesday) and 5.94 million (Thursday). In the key adults 25-54 demographic, Today earned 2.553 million (Monday), 2.281 million (Tuesday), 2.445 million (Wednesday) and 2.557 million (Thursday).

And while these numbers remain shy of Today's first week showing Beijing, they show considerably stronger growth, week over week, than in 2008. The average viewership bump during the last Olympics was 30 percent. Today's growth was upwards of 45 percent on Monday, with the lowest growth (31 percent) occurring on Tuesday.

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Over the first four days of weekday Olympic coverage, GMA has been between 1.1 and 1.6 million viewers shy of Today's audience. At the most, ABC has been 922,000 viewers short of Today in the demo (Thursday), giving NBC its largest margin of victory among adults 25-54 since Sept. 2011.

GMA's losses are still not nearly as considerable as Today's gains. In other words, growth seen here is from additional viewers, not an audience migration. Week over week, the ABC show was down between just five and 12 percent in its average audience.