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CBS is big ratings winner with Olympics

The 1994 Winter Olympics were the most-watched games ever, winter or summer, and gave CBS its highest ratings ever, according to Nielsen figures released Tuesday.

The CBS juggernaut rolled over everything in its path for the week of Feb. 21-27. CBS won all seven nights and all 44 half-hours of prime time for a second straight week, and won the week by its widest-ever margin.

Among the nightly newscasts, CBS Evening News won the week for the first time since the week of Aug. 24, 1992, with a 12.6, 22 share. ABC, the perennial leader, had an 11.7 rating, 21 share and NBC an 10.3 rating, 18 share.

The seven CBS Olympic specials were the highest-rated shows for Feb. 21-27. The venerable 60 Minutes, CBS's only non-Olympic program to air during the week, ranked No. 5.

CBS's average rating for all of prime time was a 30.5 rating, 45 share _ the equivalent of a peak rating for a single, hit show.

The network piled record upon record:

Wednesday's coverage _ the women's figure skating short program that put Nancy Kerrigan in first place and doomed Tonya Harding's hopes for gold _ was the highest-rated Olympic broadcast ever. It drew the fourth-largest audience in TV history, ranked as the highest-rated Wednesday in history and the sixth-highest rated broadcast of all time, at a 48.5 rating and a 64 percent audience share.

One national ratings point equals 942,000 households, or 1 percent, of the nation's 94.2-million TV homes. Share is the percentage of sets tuned in to a network or show during a specific time period.

Friday's Olympics coverage _ again, featuring women's figure skating _ was the second-highest rated Olympic broadcast and the sixth most-watched broadcast in TV history, CBS said. Its 44.1 rating, 64 share also made it the highest-rated Friday in history.

There wasn't much left for the competition.

For the week, No. 2 ABC and NBC were within a half-point of each other, ABC with a 10.0 rating, 15 share, and NBC with a 9.5 rating, 14 share. The Fox network, which programs only 15 of the 22 prime time hours, averaged a 7.3 rating, 11 share.

The numbers guaranteed CBS an easy victory in the February ratings sweep _ one of three monthlong periods each year of intensive audience measurement, which help local affiliate stations set their advertising rates.