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While the Americans' "generally disappointing" skating performances in Nagano may have put a halt to the usual post-Olympics "gravy train," Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski are the "exception," according to Alexandra Peers of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Kwan has deals in the works, including a TV contract, "but some hinge on her taking the gold." Peers writes that while it looked as if skater Michael Weiss would be another "big winner in the endorsement race," with varying deals with AT&T, Coca-Cola, UPS and McDonald's, his seventh-place finish hasn't earned him "any more offers" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/19). Kwan's agent Shep Goldberg speculated that Kwan could earn $15-$20M, over a five to ten year period after the Games (NEWSDAY, 2/19). Skating agent Michael Rosenberg said Kwan "should make somewhere between" $5-10 million dollars "whether she is amateur or professional." Rosenberg: "Tara Lipinski has tremendous potential. Nicole Bobek has tremendous potential. Tara because she is the phenomenon, and Nicole because she is the blond sexbomb" ("The Cutting Edge," TNT, 2/18). SPONSOR NOTES: The WALL STREET JOURNAL awarded TV advertising medals, giving Coca-Cola an "Individual Gold" for its "Ice Hockey" spot, while awarding IBM the "Team Theme Gold" for its "Look for Me" ad (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/19)....USOC sponsor United Airlines is allowing any member of the U.S. delegation to stop over in Hawaii for as long as they want, then reboard for the mainland at no extra charge (USA TODAY, 2/19)....USA TODAY's Melanie Wells reports on first-time Olympic sponsor Amway's Nagano presence, as Amway "has stepped into the spotlight," and has gotten its "typically low-profile, direct sales company and its copious products noticed" through billboards, product placement, TV ads and a sponsorship tent (USA TODAY, 2/19)....As of yesterday, Molson had received 42,000 requests for wakeup calls for the Canadian men's hockey games (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/19)....Paula Greenfield, who runs CA-based Celebrity Source, on Ross Rebagliati's endorsement potential: "I think if it was heroine or something, nobody would want to touch him. I think marijuana has a totally different stigma attached to it" (CP/EDM. JOURNAL, 2/19).
CBS received a 13.5 rating for Tuesday's primetime Olympic coverage, bringing the 12-night average to 16.2 -- down 37% from Lillehammer in '94 and 14% from Albertville in '92, according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The U.S. Women's gold medal game against Canada drew a 3.4 rating on Tuesday morning from 7:00-9:00am ET, a "shade higher" than the "CBS This Morning" average of 3.1 for its weekday Olympic programming (N.Y. TIMES, 2/19). Wednesday morning's live coverage of the U.S.-Czech Republic men's hockey game from 12:45am-3:00am drew a 2.4/15 (Mult., 2/19). OUT-FOXED: USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke writes that Tuesday's numbers could indicate that "even the Olympics' traditional viewers, women, have lost interest" in the Games. He adds that CBS "now would have to be pleased" if last night's ladies figure skating short program reaches a 20-21 rating, and predicts that the final rating for the Games will "be about" a 16.5, which would be the second- lowest Winter Olympics in history to the '68 Grenoble Games (USA TODAY, 2/19). DAILY VARIETY's Tom Bierbaum writes that Tuesday was "[p]erhaps the roughest night to date" for CBS, as Fox's "Scariest Police Chases" and "Moment of Impact!" beat primetime Olympic coverage in the adult 18-49 demo, marking the first 18-49 loss for a night of Olympics coverage, summer or winter, since the '92 Albertville Games. The Games "have won every prime-time half hour to date in households," and before Tuesday, CBS had lost only five half-hours in the 18-49 category (DAILY VARIETY, 2/19). GIVE BACKS: CBS "is acknowledging what the rest of America has been saying from the start: The Winter Olympics are a dud," according to Kyle Pope of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. "Die-hard fans are tuning out," and the low ratings are "raising even bigger questions about the value of marquee sports programming." CBS may have to offer free ad time elsewhere in its schedule if it cannot "provide enough time to make up for the lousy ratings" during the Games (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/19). Some advertisers said that if CBS doesn't meet its rating guarantee of a 19.6, "they'll just factor the Olympic shortfall into future negotiations" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 2/19). AD AGE reported that CBS "could owe" its Olympic advertisers 400 30-second spots as make- goods, and that "only about half their shortfall" will be made up during the Olympics itself (AD AGE, 2/18). BRIGHT SPOT: CBS had the top eight primetime programs for the week ending February 15, including all seven primetime Olympic broadcasts, giving the net its first weekly win in adults 18-49 in four years. CBS's earned a 16.7/27 for the week, followed by NBC's 8.2/13 rating, ABC's 7.4/12 and Fox's 7.2/11 (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 2/19).
Thirty minutes into CBS's Olympic broadcast last night, Jim Nantz said, "Team USA and hockey came into Nagano a strong medal favorite. They leave here as one of the all- time U.S. Olympic disappointments. Forget about a dream, this was a nightmare for Team USA. ... If 1980 was the Miracle On Ice, then American fans and players will remember 1998 as the Disaster On Ice." Nantz: "Team USA's loss did more than just eliminate them from play. It might have defeated the whole purpose of the NHL even coming here to Japan. The National Hockey League clearly had a mission -- with all the exposure it hoped to get with the United States in this tournament, it would help ignite the popularity of the sport in the United States and that is clearly not going to happen." Nantz called the team's play "uninspired [and] forgettable," with a "sting that will last for four years until they get to Salt Lake City." He noted while "there is plenty of excellent hockey to be played here ... [T]his has to be a tremendous blow to the well-laid plans of the National Hockey League" ("Olympic Primetime," CBS, 2/18). NEXT MOVE: USA TODAY's Kevin Allen called the early exit "the latest in a series of events that undercut the NHL's attempt to broaden exposure through Olympic participation." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: "This was never intended to be a watershed event. It is a building block no matter what happened. How big a building block it would be was a function that no one had any control over." While the league hasn't committed to Salt Lake, "many people in hockey predict the NHL will be there" (USA TODAY, 2/19). OTHER REAX: ESPN's Al Morganti called the NHL's Nagano participation in light of the U.S. loss "an unmitigated disaster." Morganti: "I still think they go ahead with Salt Lake City, better time difference and all, and maybe they get a U.S. team that looks like it's interested in actually playing a game or two." But ESPN's Darren Pang said, "If anything, it's not a step backwards, this is a learning process for everybody" ("SportsCenter," 2/18). NEWSDAY's Mark Herrmann: "This was not what the [NHL] had in mind when it shut down for more than two weeks" (NEWSDAY, 2/19). In Toronto, Garth Woolsey: "Most Americans were dubious about hockey before Bettman, with the players' blessing, shut down operations for two weeks. Now they've got to be doubly dubious" (TORONTO STAR, 2/19). In Houston, John Lopez wrote the NHL experiment "blew up in the Americans' faces" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/19). In Phoenix, David Casstevens: "Do You Believe In Debacles?! -- Yesssss!" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/19). In N.Y., Lisa Olson: "What had started out as a grand idea suddenly seemed almost embarrassing" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/19). In N.Y., Filip Bondy writes that with this outcome, "maybe the schedule break is less likely to be repeated for Salt Lake City in 2002" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/19). In DC, Thom Loverro calls the tournament a "disaster" as the "league won't realize the big payoff it had anticipated" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/19). In N.Y., Harvey Araton writes that "apparently" nobody, not even the league, can "script a hockey competition" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/19). PLAYERS GET RIPPED: In Chicago, Jay Mariotti: "Poor hockey. It deserves so much better than the lame effort extended by Team USA" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/19). In K.C., Jason Whitlock writes the U.S. players "let the league down" (K.C. STAR, 2/19). In the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, Douglas Looney writes that Olympic participation could be a "bad idea" for NHL players. Looney: "Maybe [the players] are so zeroed in on the NHL season that something like this was more a bother than an opportunity" (CSM, 2/19). The header over Dan Barreiro's column in Minneapolis: "The Most Humiliating U.S. Hockey Showing Ever" (STAR TRIBUNE, 2/19). Header over Bob Wojnowksi's story in Detroit: "U.S. Men's Hockey Laughable" (DETROIT NEWS, 2/19). In L.A., Mike Downey: "We could have sent the Mighty Ducks over and done better" (L.A. TIMES, 2/19). In Tampa, David Whitley compares the men's and women's hockey performances: "[D]on't send a man to do a woman's job" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 2/19). In Orlando, George Diaz calls the team "frauds" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 2/19). In S.F., C.W. Nevius calls the performance an "embarrassment" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/19). In L.A., Mike Penner: "Do you believe in national humiliation?" (L.A. TIMES, 2/19). In DC, Michael Wilbon calls it the "most disappointing performance of any team from any country in these Winter Olympics" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/19). In Seattle, Elliott Almond wrote U.S. hockey "took 10 steps backward" with the early exit (SEATTLE TIMES, 2/19). In Atlanta, Steve Hummer: "Those guys ended up doing as much to advance hockey as global warming" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/19). BE GONE WITH YOU? In N.Y., Wallace Matthews writes under the header, "Bring Back The Amateurs." He calls the Dream Team concept a "terrible idea," adding "what happened in Nagano is something we should never see again" (N.Y. POST, 2/19). In St. Paul, Tom Powers: "It would be better to lose these games with amateurs who are realizing a lifelong dream, rather than pros who have no particular loyalty and no vested interest" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 2/19). In his column on CBS SportsLine, Bob Kravitz writes, "A bunch of American college kids could have made it to the final round of the medal play. ... And they could have done it with a lot more class and a lot more grace" (CBS SportsLine, 2/19). But in Ft. Worth, Gil LeBreton writes that the NHL/Olympic participation "isn't the concept that needs to be changed for Team USA, it's the attitude" (STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/19).
General Mills officials said that the gold medal- winning U.S. women's hockey team "appears to be the leading candidate to adorn the commemorative post-Olympics Wheaties box," according to Jay Weiner of the Minneapolis STAR- TRIBUNE. Weiner reports, however, that there could be a "hitch" involving Team USA's Jenny Schmidgall, a Univ. of MN recruit who "could lose her eligibility" if featured. NCAA Dir of Member Services Steve Mallonee said that Schmidgall's name nor picture would not be allowed to appear on the cereal box. One option for Wheaties would be to place just a few of the players on the box (STAR TRIBUNE,2/19). NOTES: TNT will replay the third period of the U.S.- Canada gold medal game today, at approximately 5:00pm ET (TNT)....NHL Ice, the official web site of the NHL, announced the online availability of merchandise celebrating the USA Women's gold medal, including locker room T-shirts and hats, replica jerseys, sweatshirts and photos (NHL).