Highlights from television coverage of the Sochi Olympics:
RATINGS: After a quick start, NBC’s ratings for the Sochi Olympics are fading. Saturday night’s prime-time telecast was seen by 17.1 million viewers, the smallest audience so far and smaller than any night of the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. The Saturday telecast opened with the compelling story of the U.S.-Russia men’s hockey game, but things quickly went downhill, and there were few notable performances by Americans to keep home team fans interested. The comparable Saturday in Vancouver had 26.7 million viewers, and the Turin Games in 2006 had 19.7 million. The hockey game on the NBC Sports Network was seen by an average of 4.1 million people, swelling to 6.4 million during the shootout, strong numbers that indicated how word spread quickly about what was going on.
EYE ON COSTAS: Ol’ Red Eyes is coming back! NBC said that Bob Costas will return Monday night as host of the network’s prime-time telecast, with Matt Lauer filling in one last time on Sunday. That means Costas will have missed seven days because of a stubborn infection that reddened first one of his eyes, then the other, and left him sensitive to light.
WEIR WARDROBE WATCH: Skating analyst Johnny Weir had a bright green jacket with white shirt, and a green and gold headband. Or maybe it was a tiara.
ICE DANCING: Weir is warming to his job, firing off some good lines during the ice dancing competition Sunday. “They sold that program like the rent is due tomorrow,” he said of one pair. “With ice dancing being the peacock of our sport, we need some plumage,” he said, urging Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates on.
HOCKEY HANGOVER: NBC’s hockey team was quick to call out the U.S. men for looking energy-deficient during part of the game against Slovenia on Sunday, probably a natural hangover from the previous day’s excitement. The announcers were a little less inviting to the non-hockey fanatics, with repeated references to a “natural” hat trick without explaining the phrase. We’ll assume it has nothing to do with hairstyles.
CURLING: Was it just us, or were there some long, lingering closeups on competitors in the Russia-Sweden women’s curling match?
David Bauder can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter@dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder.