SBD/24/Olympics

A-B'S PONTURO HOPES NBC HAS MORE OF AN EYE ON YOUNG MEN

          Tony Ponturo, Anheuser-Busch's VP/Corporate Media and
     Sports Marketing, said Monday that "both the low household
     ratings and the lower numbers of young male viewers will
     force the company to sit down" with NBC execs before the
     Sydney Summer Games in 2000, according to Kirk & Jones of
     the CHICAGO TRIBUNE.  Ponturo felt that CBS's coverage
     "ignored male viewers and played a major role" in the low
     ratings.  Nielsen Media reports that the '98 Games drew
     "only" a 9.3 rating with males ages 25-54, compared with a
     17.1 rating in '94.  Ponturo: "You have to make sure women
     are intrigued with the Olympics.  But we're now concerned
     that the pendulum is so far over the 21-to-34-year-old male
     is saying that 'you're not talking to me anymore.'"  Ponturo
     said that A-B "may take the unusual step of asking" for NBC
     "to guarantee an audience with a more specific makeup --
     namely, young men -- when it negotiates" its advertising for
     the next Games (Kirk & Jones, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/24). 
          BELIEVERS: AD AGE's Jeff Jensen reports that A-B, AT&T
     and Coca-Cola are "expected to announce within weeks deals
     to advertise on NBC's broadcasts of the next five Olympic
     Games."  A-B's pack is valued at around $375M for the NBC
     rights.  Jensen: "Although advertisers will try to leverage
     the poor performance of CBS to squeeze NBC for lower rates
     in 2002, observers said that will be difficult."  Momentum
     IMC Managing Dir Mark Dowley: "I don't see the problems of
     Nagano even putting a dent in the marketability of the next
     Winter Olympics" (AD AGE, 2/23).  DAILY VARIETY's Richard
     Katz reports that CBS's sub-par performance "did not have
     implications" for the 2002 Salt Lake Games.  TN Media Senior
     Partner Steve Sternberg: "Salt Lake City is going to be a
     home run no matter what" (DAILY VARIETY, 2/24).
          FROM OZ: NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol "anticipates
     no problems" with broadcasting the Sydney Games.  Despite
     the time difference, "despite everything being on tape,
     Ebersol said his production will be propelled by
     storytelling."  Ebersol: "The Summer Olympics is a 26-ring
     circus, and there's never a paucity of events to put on. 
     And Americans are medal participants in all sports. ...
     We've shown that the Olympics have to be produced more as
     entertainment than a sporting event. ... There is a lot more
     fragmentation out there, from on line, so they'd better hit
     the emotional high points all the time" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/24).

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