The Olympics are once again proving to be no match for the nation’s favorite winter pastime: "American Idol."
The Fox juggernaut picked up where it left off four years ago Tuesday, easily crushing NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Games, according to fast national Nielsen data. A two-hour "Idol" averaged a 9.1/22 in adults 18-49, 69 percent above NBC’s 8-10 p.m. coverage of the Games.
That’s nearly identical to what "Idol" averaged on the comparable night a year ago, when there was no Olympics competition.
ABC’s "Lost," meanwhile, also didn’t take a major hit vs. the Games — though it was down. Tuesday’s episode earned a 4.5/10, off 10 percent from last week. Not bad at all given the twin terrors of the Games and Simon Cowell.
As for the Games, early numbers show NBC’s coverage averaging a 5.4/14 in primetime among adults 18-49. That’s down 4 percent from Torino in 2006 — and, if the numbers hold, the lowest Tuesday demo rating ever for an Olympics.
CBS aired repeats Tuesday.
UPDATE 11:55 AM: Some added stats about last night’s Olympics-"Idol" showdown.
While "Idol" walloped the competition Tuesday, its margin of victory over the Torino Games was much larger. "Idol" in 2006 attracted about 4 million more viewers than on the same night in 2010, which means the gap between NBC and Fox shrank by more than 60 percent.
"Idol" was also down double digits week to week, though in part that’s because last week was the start of the always popular Hollywood Week.
In any case, NBC types are taking the results in stride.
"Congratulations to ‘American Idol’," NBC Sports marketing chief Mike McCarley said. "The show extended its six-year undefeated streak from 221-0 to 222-0. The show is a juggernaut."
AFTERNOON UPDATE: With five nights of ratings in the books, NBC’s coverage of the Vancouver Olympics is still trending up vs. the cataclysmic Torino Games of 2006. So far, an average audience of 26.5 million has watched primetime coverage, up 22 percent from the opening five nights of Torino, which attracted 21.6 million. In adults 18-49, the games are also up by double digits, averaging a 7.3/21 in the demo vs. a 6.6/17 four years ago.