- The Washington Times - Monday, August 11, 2008

Solid gold ratings

NBC’s Olympic dream of ratings fireworks came true.

The network’s coverage of the Games got off to a roaring start Friday with the most-watched and highest-rated non-U.S. summer opening ceremony telecast ever.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Beijing event averaged 34.2 million viewers.

In the nearly 50 years of televised Olympics, that’s higher than any previous non-domestic summer opener up 35 percent in viewers from the Athens ceremony in 2004 (25.4 million) and 25 percent than Sydney in 2000 (18.5 million).

Still, the mammoth figures weren’t quite enough to overturn all opening ceremonies based in the U.S. The rating was 14 percent shy of the Atlanta Games in 1996 (39.8 million), THR notes.

Yet NBC’s performance was far above industry expectations. Insiders had estimated that NBC’s event would drop about 11 percent from the Athens Games opener.

Launch date set

TheWB.com will launch on Aug. 27, offering classic series that aired on the now defunct WB TV network along with new Web series.

Warner Bros. Television Group is promoting the new site as “the next great network that won’t be televised.” But cable operator Comcast, will offer classic WB series via its video-on-demand service.

According to MediaWeek.com, The WB.com has signed up Johnson & Johnson as a charter sponsor.

The lineup for the online video network includes classic WB series “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” “Veronica Mars,” “Smallville,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Everwood,” “Roswell,” “The Wayans Bros.,” “Friends “and “The OC” along with new series from show creators McG and Josh Schwartz. The McG series “Sorority Fever” will premiere on the site on Sept. 8. Mr. Schwartz is producer of the current CW show “Gossip Girl.”

As part of the rollout, The WB.com will feature an original application that will launch on Facebook Platform that will allow integration of Facebook’s social network onto The WB.com, and offer TheWB.com’s content on Facebook.

TheWB.com’s shows also will be distributed free across the Internet on Comcast’s Filmcast.com. Additionally, Comcast will make available more than 1,000 TV episodes from Warner Bros. library that will be offered on the cable operator’s video-on-demand service. AOL also will feature a WB.com branded channel that will stream full episodes of classic WB series, says MediaWeek.com.

Short takes

• Regis Philbin will guest star as himself in an episode of CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother,” TVWeeek.com reports, citing a story in Entertainment Weekly.

• Mark Wahlberg will make a rare cameo appearance on “Entourage,” the hit HBO series he executive produces, when the fifth season begins next month, Associated Press reports.

• ABC has picked up “Wipeout” for a second season, Zap2it.com reports. The show, hosted by John Anderson and John Henson with Jill Wagner, has averaged 10.2 million viewers a week since its premiere in June, making it the second most-watched show of the summer (trailing only NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”).

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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