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14.5 million watch Jerry Seinfeld's "Marriage Ref" unveiling

Jerry Seinfeld's reality series "The Marriage Ref" attracted 14.5 million viewers following the closing ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympics Sunday night.

That's nearly 6 million more viewers than NBC's average audience in the timeslot last season with programming that was not football. This may fall under the category of Damning with Faint Praise.

Let's try this: the premiere of "The Marriage Ref" is the season's fourth most successful new-series launch - and NBC's second best of the TV season to date.

"The Marriage Ref," in which wildly unsuited celebrities, like Alec Baldwin, Madonna, and, um, Jerry Seinfeld, give advice to Average Joe's with funny marital problems, is the first step in NBC's effort to put back the pieces of its 10 p.m. weeknight timeslots since the demise of its disastrous experiment with a 10 o'clock talk show hosted by Jay Leno. Tonight, NBC launches its remake of the movie "Parenthood" in its very best timeslot - following "The Biggest Loser."

Ranked No. 1, among new-series launches this season: the CBS reality series "Undercover Boss," which logged nearly 39 million viewers after the Super Bowl on Feb. 7. Yes, it had an unfair advantage, what with the post-bowl blather show delivering a whopping-big leadin audience of nearly 76 million people. Seinfeld's closing-ceremonies leadin was nothing to sneer about: 21 million viewers of which he hung on to a very respectable portion.

But "Undercover" has done well since its launch; Sunday night it actually copped a slightly bigger crowd at 9 - 15.1 million strong -- than "Marriage Ref" did at 10.

Ranked No. 2 among new-series launches this season: CBS's "NCIS: Los Angeles" (19 million viewers).

In third place, ironically, "The Jay Leno Show" (18.5 million), though viewers clearly did not like what they saw, and the show has since been canceled.

"The Marriage Ref" is No. 4 with its 14.5 million - just ahead of ABC's sci-fi miniseries remake "V" which had attracted about 14.4 million people to its opening night.

In case you missed "The Marriage Ref," here's a clip:

By Lisa de Moraes  |  March 1, 2010; 1:35 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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And I will wager ten million or more of those so-called viewers were screaming obscenities at the TV set and NBC for putting in that stuff instead of the conclusion of the Olympics closing ceremonies.

NBC, in my opinion, rescinded all the otherwise-excellent coverage and goodwill it had built up with me over the last two weeks of the Olympics with that stupid and callous move.

Posted by: LNER4472 | March 1, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Yep, the comments on Yahoo are running 90% against NBC for cutting off the closing ceremonies at the knees - even among those who thought the closing was a bore. Congrats NBC on insulting your viewers with the abrupt and unceremonious dumping of the Vancouver games.

Posted by: michalsmail | March 1, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

The switch was unannounced and abrupt. I watched every hour of prime time Olympic coverage for the two weeks before - except for turning off Marriage Ref before it even started. Rude, callous, manipulative, and just plain dumb - why do that to people?

Posted by: bgressler | March 1, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Only a management team that thought Jay Leno was a better long-term bet than Conan would air such a stinker. The show is terrible!!

Posted by: aksunder | March 1, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I think it was simply a public service to prevent the wide broadcast of Nickleback and Avril Lavigne.

Posted by: kiosk | March 1, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Seinfeld needs to retire. He's just not that talented. Larry David was the genius behind "Seinfeld." The interesting characters were George, Elaine and Kramer and yet Jerry Seinfeld ran off with hundreds of millions of dollars when the show ended. He should not be allowed to earn another penny for the rest of his life! Clearly, his new reality show is just more evidence.

Posted by: bob2davis | March 1, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Fixed it for you:

Jerry Seinfeld's reality series "The Marriage Ref" attracted 14.5 million viewers DURING the closing ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympics Sunday night.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 1, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

It was just announced that 28.5 million viewers watched the USA-Canada game yesterday afternoon. Highest rated hockey game in thirty years.

Posted by: Gambrills4 | March 1, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe NBC preempted the conclusion of the conclusion of the Olympics to put on that drivel. It was not good at all.

Posted by: lmjs63 | March 1, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I didn't watch either the Snor-lympic closings or the Marriage Ref, but judging from the comments it is clear that NBC just goes out of it way to disrespect its audiences. No wonder the network is failing they think they know best and they are horrible.

Posted by: Brigadere | March 1, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Add me to the list of folks who couldn't believe NBS interupted the closing ceremonies of the Olympics and turned off the TV when "The Marriage Ref" came on. Unbelieveably stupid on the part of NBC.

Posted by: JohnMG123 | March 1, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I suspect a large portion of those viewers were simply waiting for the Olympics to come back on at 11:30. That's what * I * was doing, at least. I put it on "mute" and waited for the Olympics to come back.

Posted by: Eleiana | March 1, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I think a better way of putting would be NBC "hijacked" 14. 5 million viewers to watch this trash. I was astonished that NBC broke away from the Closing Ceremony of the Olympics to premiere such junk. Lets make jokes about dead dogs for 15 minutes! Whew! Don't count on me to be watching Alec "Father of the Year" Baldwin on the Oscars. While the Post's TV reviewer Tom Shales preferred to kiss Jerry's backside at the Kennedy Center, this show was slammed by almost every reviewer and blog on the Web.
Is it a wonder why no one watches NBC? Hey, by the way, has Tony Kornheiser tweeted his fashion review of Kelly Ripa's outfit last night yet?

Posted by: fairfaxgoper | March 1, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: antiqueheart | March 1, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

HDTV for this programming... BAM... I'm out.

Posted by: whocares666 | March 1, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

If the viewing audience is only counted in raw numbers for any period, then I suppose I am one of the unfortunate 14.5 million counted. Was watching the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, went to the bathroom, and came back to unadulterated garbage in the form of the "Marriage Ref".

Two minutes, at most, and I was gone. I'd rather watch a continuous loop of a fireplace than such idiocy.

Posted by: LAWPOOL | March 1, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I thought "The Marriage Ref" was terrible. My wife thought it was terrible. This show will not last. How much plastic surgery has Kelly Ripa had to turn her into the creature we saw?

Posted by: sorry_no_email | March 1, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

When is Jeff Zucker going to be axed for yet another horrible programming decision? The closing ceremonies were deadly dull, yes, but this new show is absolute drivel. Jerry Seinfeld should have to pay every single one of those 14.5 million people for subjecting them to such crap. NBC is shameless. I normally watch Brian Williams and the Today show, but it was All-Olympics, All The Time on NBC for the last two weeks. As if Alec and Kelly need any other gigs... They all should be spanked for this unholy mess. It makes even Jay Leno look funny. I hope it's gone soon so we won't have to endure Madonna pretending to be a marriage expert.

Posted by: chucknyc | March 1, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

That's pyrite, Jerry! Pyrite!

Posted by: jampaint | March 1, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Antiqueheart - The "Heidi" game was Jets v. Raiders. It was over 40 years ago.

Posted by: DCResidentEmployee | March 1, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

"How much plastic surgery has Kelly Ripa had to turn her into the creature we saw?"

I think she's just gotten terribly skinny. I saw a photo of her in a bikini--not good.

Posted by: chunche | March 1, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

A little perspective on the TV ratings of the hockey game Sunday afternoon from the NY Times:

"The Canada-U.S.A. gold medal hockey game was seen by a huge audience of 27.6 million viewers, making it the most-watched hockey game on American television since two games in the 1980 games from Lake Placid, headed by the famous U.S. upset over the Soviet Union.

The 27.6 million viewers put the game ahead of such recent high-profile sports contests as the Masters golf tournament (14.3 million), the Daytona 500 (16 million viewers), the top game from last year’s N.B.A. Finals (16 million), the N.C.A.A. basketball final (17.6 million), Game 4 (the most watched) of the 2009 World Series (22.8 million) and the 2010 Rose Bowl (24 million).

And most of those games were played in prime time. The hockey game went on at 3 p.m. Eastern time — noon Pacific. The audience reached a high point of 34.8 million viewers from 5:30 to 6 p.m. when the game was sent into overtime by the U.S. team."

Posted by: croftonpost | March 2, 2010 6:50 AM | Report abuse

I knew the hockey numbers but I didn't know how they compared to the other events. Very interesting stuff indeed.

Posted by: blackandred777 | March 2, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Concluding from most reader comments, and I concur, the ‘Viewer Ref’ advises a swift and painless end to the ‘Marriage Ref.’

Posted by: Yalbili | March 2, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

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