Olympics unbeatable in Canada ratings

Games consistently beating top series like 'American Idol'

TORONTO -- Canada may not own the medals podium at the 2010 Vancouver Games, but the country's Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium owns the couch.

Through 13 Olympic nights, not even Fox's "American Idol" can match the primetime drama of the Winter Games that continue to dominate Canadian TV screens leading up to the closing ceremony Sunday night.

Ratings gold for the CTV-led consortium providing Games coverage here have instead pushed popular U.S. series such as Fox's "House" and "The Simpsons" and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and "Desperate Housewives," many in repeat episodes, off their perennial primetime perch, according to BBM Canada data.

With the Canada-U.S. hockey rivalry looming large in the Olympic coverage, the 10.6 million average total viewers that tuned in Sunday night (Feb. 21) to watch the Americans beat Canada 5-3 in a preliminary round easily trounced "Cleveland" with 627,000 total viewers and "Brothers and Sisters" with 618,000 viewers on Global Television.

CTV, which usually airs Fox's "American Idol" on its main network, pushed the top performer to its secondary A network during the Games.

Here "American Idol" grabbed 1.14 million total viewers on Tuesday, Feb. 16, against 6.24 million average viewers that watched Canada's men's hockey team hammer Norway 8-0.

A night later on Wednesday, Feb. 17, "American Idol" returned with 1.26 million total viewers, well short of the 4.3 million viewers that tuned into the men's snowboard halfpipe finals where American superstar Shaun White lived up to the hype and expectations and grabbed the gold medal.

Canadians taking fright as their men's hockey team has been slow to shine at the Vancouver Games has helped boost the TV ratings.

About 6.76 million Canadian viewers tuned in to watch Canada's men's hockey team beat Switzerland 3-2 in a tight game on Thursday, Feb. 18, and on Tuesday, Feb. 23, another 7.4 million average viewers watched Canada topple Germany 8-2.

Rival Canadian broadcasters are looking to the end of the Vancouver Games to regroup and resume normal primetime competition against CTV.

More Olympics coverage  

Post-Olympics, Global Television is airing a one-hour episode of NBC's "The Office" on Thursday, March 4. That will be followed by "The Barbara Walters Special" on March 7, ahead of the 82nd annual "Academy Awards" on CTV.

Global will also bow new episodes of Fox's "House" from March 8, and "Celebrity Apprentice" from March 14.

The Canuck network will also bow the new Fox comedy series "Sons of Tuscon" on March 11.

Also in March, broadcaster Rogers Media will unveil a post-Jay Leno primetime talker lineup that includes ABC's "America's Funniest Home Videos" on Sunday nights, the Jerry Seinfeld-produced reality series "The Marriage Ref" on Thursday nights and "Ugly Betty" on Wednesdays in a 10 p.m. simulcast slot after ABC moved it from Friday nights.