NBC RINGS 'EM IN WITH OLYMPICS

After deserting their television sets in droves earlier in the summer, Americans have returned to them en masse for the Olympics, with NBC averaging more than 30 million viewers per night during the contests' first week. In an interview with CNBC on Friday, NBC chief Jeff Zucker remarked that the success of the Olympics telecasts shows "that if you put on great programming that people want to watch, they they'll show up." Even, apparently on Saturday night -- a night that all of the networks have all but abandoned in recent years. With more than 31 million viewers tuning in, the Olympics telecasts produced NBC's best ratings for a Saturday night in 18 years, the Associated Press reported. Although ratings are expected to fall considerably during the second week, many analysts nevertheless are predicting that Beijing will beat Athens, which, with 24.6 million viewers, holds the record for a non-domestic Olympics. Surprisingly, the telecasts are receiving the biggest ratings in the two sections of the country where virtually all of the events are being tape-delayed. The Mountain time zone is averaging a 22.7 rating and a 41 share. The Pacific time zone is averaging a 20.3/39. The Central time zone is third with a 19.4/33, while the Eastern places fourth with an 18.6/33.

GE BIG WINNER IN BEIJING

The Olympics have already paid off handsomely for General Electric, NBC's corporate parent, GE Chairman Jeff Immelt said today (Monday). In an interview with the Associated Press, Immelt said that in addition to the reported $1 billion in ad sales generated by the Olympics for NBC, sales by GE subsidiaries of power and other equipment for the sports venues have brought in another $700 million. He reiterated that GE has no plans to sell NBC. "We've never contemplated it We don't think about it. We like the business," he said. Asked what he thinks about the ribbing meted out to GE executives on the NBC comedy 30 Rock, Immelt replied, "I think it's funny. If a show is good and gets good ratings, I don't mind if they poke fun at their parent every now and then."

STRUGGLING GENERAL MOTORS EXITS OSCARS TELECAST

General Motors, which has already drastically cut back its current spending on television advertising, is now pulling its spots from next year's Oscars telecast as well, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Monday). According to the newspaper, the automaker spent $13 million on ads for this year's Oscars telecast. "It is a great property but it simply didn't fit into our plays for 2009," a GM spokeswoman told the newspaper.

COLBERT, STEWART AUDIENCES SMART; COURIC'S NOT SO

The overwhelming majority of people who watch cable and broadcast newscasts and topical variety shows are unable to identify the party that now controls Congress, name the current secretary of state, and name Britain's new prime minister, according to the new Pew Survey on News Consumption. The national average for answering those three questions is only 18 percent, the study found; only 10 percent among viewers of the CBS Evening News With Katie Couric, by far the lowest ranked among the nightly news programs. The survey said that 21 percent of the viewers of NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams could answer the questions; 19 percent of the viewers of ABC World News with Charles Gibson could. Ranking higher than any of the nightly newscasts, however, were Comedy Central's The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with 34 percent and 30 percent respectively.

PRODUCER WHO CHRONICLED BATTLE WITH CANCER SUCCUMBS

Veteran TV news producer Leroy Sievers, who spent ten years with CBS News before becoming executive producer of ABC's Nightline, died Saturday in Maryland at age 53 after chronicling his seven-year battle with cancer on NPR and developing a blog for cancer sufferers called "My Cancer." In a statement, former Nightline anchor Ted Koppel said, "Cancer was not in Leroy's plans. But he turned his battle with cancer into the most dramatic, the most moving and the most important story of his life."

Brian B.