Puerto Rico routs U.S. basketball team, Michael Phelps's quest for seven gold medals dashed, gymnast Blaine Wilson throws a hissy fit and, of course, the debut of the beach volleyball bimbettes -- is it any wonder that Olympics broadcaster NBC scored more viewers than CBS and ABC combined last week?
Here's a look at the week's ecstasy and agony:
Athens Games. NBC's broadcast of the 2004 Summer Games got off to a wobbly start the first three days, down in prime time by 3 percent in households and flat in viewers compared with the 2000 Sydney Games, which were the lowest rated Olympics in more than 30 years. Even so, Sunday's audience of nearly 26 million, Friday's 25.4 million and even Saturday's 20 million crushed the menu of reruns and reality the other broadcast networks served up last week. Besides, by Day 4, Monday, the Games were in the black, by 2 percent in homes and 7 percent among viewers compared with '00.
The Weather Channel. On Friday, when Hurricane Charley hit Florida, about 1.4 million rubberneckers were glued to the Weather Channel, making that the channel's fifth-highest-rated day in its more than 20-year history. (The next day, however, Fox News Channel's Charley coverage edged out TWC, 1.06 million to 844,000, though both FNC and TWC spiked around 10 a.m. that day -- TWC with 2.1 million viewers.)
"Blue Collar TV." Even WB seemed skeptical about this show at first, initially ordering just eight episodes. But it's been averaging 5 million viewers since its debut, and inexplicably does well with the network's target audience of young women, so WB has gone ahead and ordered 22 more episodes of the bubba comedy show starring Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy.
"Last Comic Standing." Thursday's finale bagged 8.8 million viewers -- not only better than the first edition's finale crowd of 8.2 million, it's also the largest audience for any NBC Thursday show this summer. Remember when NBC used to rule on Thursdays?
"Amazing Race 5." Last week's most watched non-Olympics program among the 18-to-49-year-olds who, advertisers say, count the most was CBS's hurry-up-and-wait reality series.
"Teen Choice Awards." Fox's made-for-publicists trophy show suffered its smallest audience ever last week -- a puny 6.19 million viewers. Which was no doubt a crushing blow for Ashton Kutcher, who was named best TV personality and best reality/variety TV star for his work on "Punk'd," and for Lindsay Lohan, who went home laden with trophies for best movie actress in a comedy, best movie hissy fit, best movie blush and movie breakout star for her work on both "Mean Girls" and "Freaky Friday."
"For Love or Money 4." Can't believe we're wrapping the fourth edition of this cash-or-cutie reality series -- time flies, doesn't it? Anyway, last week's finale copped only 6.8 million viewers, which, given that last summer's mop-up episode had averaged 12.3 million, puts it firmly in Loser Land.
"Joe Schmo 2." As with Fox's "Joe Millionaire," sometimes the joke just doesn't work twice. A paltry 703,000 viewers watched the wrap of "JS2" last week; 3.4 million had tuned in to the final episode of the first edition.
The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: NBC's Sunday prime-time Olympics coverage, NBC's Friday Games Opening Ceremonies, NBC's Saturday Games coverage, CBS's "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS's "CSI," NBC's "Law & Order: SVU," CBS's "CSI: Miami," CBS's "Two and a Half Men," ABC's "AFC-NFC Hall of Fame Game" and CBS's "Without a Trace."