The Winter Olympics made TV ratings news last Wednesday night, dethroning . in the TV ratings for the first time in 6 years
Today, the LA Times wonders that with the Women's figure skating finals on Thursday night, "Winter Olympics may best 'American Idol' again".
While the results of the women's "short program" tonight may drive US interest in the finals on Thursday, I'm guessing that at least some part of last Wednesday's Olympics ratings surge came from the fact that Linsey Vonn had already won her gold medal well in advance of US primetime allowing the buzz to build during the day, and Shani Davis won his gold medal before primetime too.
This Thursday has no events that the US is likely to do well in in advance of NBC's primetime to build any buzz. (The women's hockey final between the US and Canada begins at 6:30 Eastern, on a cable net, but will still be going on during Idol). The two events of interest (to the US at least) Thursday, the women's skating final and the men's freestyle skiing, don't begin until primetime (and men's skiing begins at 9pm Eastern, after Idol finishes in the East/Central).
My guess is that even with the popularity of figure skating, thatstays on top.