SBD/August 1, 2012/OlympicsPrint All
NBC is averaging an 18.9 final rating and 34.8 million viewers through the first four nights of the London Games, up 10% and 14%, respectively, from the same period during the '08 Beijing Games. The four-night rating is the best since the '96 Atlanta Games and the viewership remains the best average since the first televised Olympics in ’60. After initial reports of Monday night’s audience being down in overnight ratings, final figures showed the telecast was actually up compared to the same night in Beijing. Monday night on NBC from 8:00-11:23pm (all times ET) averaged an 18.0 rating and 31.6 million viewers, up 2% and 5%, respectively, from the same night in ’08. Strong numbers also continued for NBC’s other dayparts. Coverage on the net on Monday from 12:00-5:10pm drew a 6.2 rating and 9.0 million viewers, while 10:00am-12:00pm drew a 5.1 rating and 7.0 million viewers. Late-night recaps from 12:35-1:23am drew a 4.6 rating and 6.4 million viewers (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).PRIMETIME OLYMPIC RATINGSDay
LondonBeijingAthensSydneyAtlantaOpening CeremonyFri.21.018.614.616.223.6 Day 2Sat.15.813.911.813.117.2 Day 3Sun.19.818.115.414.622.9 Day 4Mon.18.017.616.613.822.94-Night Avg.18.917.214.714.321.8
DAY FIVE OVERNIGHT: NBC drew a 24.0 overnight Nielsen rating for last night’s London Games coverage from 8:00-11:45pm ET, which featured U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps becoming the most-decorated Olympian ever after winning his 19th medal. While figures could shift when national ratings are released, that figure marks the net’s best audience for London thus far, just ahead of the Opening Ceremony (23.0 overnight). The 24.0 overnight is also up 4% from the same night in Beijing in ’08. Salt Lake City again topped all U.S. markets with a 31.3 local rating (Karp).
CABLE OPERATORS: The first weekend of Olympic coverage on NBC’s family of cable networks saw gains over Beijing and set some records. NBC Sports Network, airing Olympic coverage for the first time, had the net’s two most-viewed days in its history over on Saturday and Sunday. Coverage on Sunday from 4:00am-7:06pm averaged 1.2 million viewers, marking NBCSN’s best average audience for the daypart. Sunday coverage was highlighted by the U.S.-France men’s basketball game from 9:30-11:30am, which averaged 2.6 million viewers. MSNBC averaged 713,000 viewers over the weekend for coverage in the 7:00am-12:00pm window, up 46% from ’08. The net’s two-day average from 12:00-5:00pm was 1.5 million viewers, up 44%. CNBC also averaged 698,000 over the weekend, up 24% from Beijing (NBC). CABLEFAX DAILY notes Sunday's U.S.-Colombia women's soccer match on NBCSN averaged 2.5 million viewers to "rank as the net's most watched non-NHL coverage." Meanwhile, Bravo's first two days of tennis coverage "marked the net's highest weekend average viewership in the 9am-3pm daypart since October '07" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 8/1).
COULD NBC NOW BREAK EVEN? NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke today during a conference call with Wall Street analysts to discuss Comcast's Q2 earnings report said that NBC is “set to ‘break even’ on its Olympic coverage, rather than lose money as previously expected.” The company had “expected at one point to take a $200 million loss on the London Olympics.” NBC paid $1.2B for the rights to air the Games in the U.S. and said that it “sold more than $1 billion in ads, breaking the record of $850 million set during the Beijing Olympics in 2008.” Burke: “We are way ahead of where we thought we’d be.” He added that because of “the timing of events in London, he had expected ratings to be down 20 percent compared with the Beijing Olympics.” They currently are up 10% (Peter Svensson, AP, 8/1). Burke said that the “high ratings the Olympics were drawing were ‘atypical’ in the current fragmented media environment, making them increasingly valuable.” He added that the strong ratings "were a result of the company’s promotion and its strategy of presenting the Games on broadcast, cable and digital” (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 8/1).
STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: In Baltimore, David Zurawik watched the two swimming finals yesterday involving Michael Phelps and wrote he was able to see both "in real time Tuesday -- sort of." He spent the morning "signing in and getting bounced offline repeatedly," followed by "long stretches looking at freeze frames instead of action while the little wheel on the screen went round and round in the afternoon." During the 200-meter freestyle relay, the feed "froze just before he was about to finish the race -- and when it finally unfroze, he and his teammates were starting to celebrate." Zurawik: "We only lost the stream once or twice Tuesday afternoon, but we had someone working the computer like a jazz musician lowering the resolution to save band width." It "almost worked -- some of the time." The live stream "was at its worst as Phelps swam the last legs of the relay that earned American gold." Most of the time "what we saw was a frozen frame with the wheel helplessly, maddeningly, stupidly spinning and spinning." Meanwhile, the announcers "sounded like the BBC or, perhaps, a feed from Australian TV that NBC just piggybacked into." Zurawik speculated NBC "didn't want the real-time live coverage Tuesday afternoon to be so good that viewers wouldn't tune in for the network's tricked-out prime-time package -- when viewer eyeballs could be monetized to the absolute max for advertisers." After Zurawik's column was first posted, NBC Sports Group Senior VP/Communication Greg Hughes "called from London to say that he believed the problems with the live stream experienced in the Sun conference room were the result of band width issues at the Sun, not the fault of NBC's live stream" (Baltimore SUN, 8/1). Meanwhile, in L.A., Salvador Rodriguez writes NBC's live stream of Olympic events "is not actually live." A delay "of at least a couple of seconds set up a spoiler in the outcome of Phelps' 200-meter butterfly race." With about 50 meters left in the race, the network "sent out an app notification with the outcome." Rodriguez: "I was still watching Phelps swim, supposedly 'live,' after a notification on my iPad had already told me the race's result." There is "nothing wrong with a slight delay," but the "problem lies in the fact that it's not just Twitter beating NBC's delay but NBC itself beating it" (L.A. TIMES, 8/1).
A PIRATE'S LIFE FOR ME: REUTERS’ Baker & Adegoke noted many viewers who are “turned off by NBC’s ironclad control of access to Olympics coverage ... and spotty online streaming" are using a "workaround -- sometimes legal, sometimes not -- to watch the Games when and how they want on feeds from countries such as the U.K. and Canada.” These fans “use techniques that make it seem like their computers are located outside the United States, giving them access to streaming access to the Games held by companies other than NBC.” It is “unclear whether NBC would take on the task of blocking or suing" these services, as the net typically has left it to the IOC "to police the piracy of the games’ TV rights” (REUTERS, 7/31).
LIVE FROM NEW YORK...: In Philadelphia, Bob Fernandez notes NBCU has staffed "a temporary 670-employee center in New York dubbed the 'highlights factory.'" NBC has "crammed 11 portable play-by-play booths, a control room, and 50 flat-screen computer workstations" into the regular "SNL" studio. Not only do 125 employees "clip highlights on their workstations on the SNL stage and in the balcony seating area, but they manually insert advertisements into the live stream on nbcolympics.com." While the "big games and competitions are being called from London," the smaller competitions -- badminton, archery, handball, and others -- are "being called at 30 Rock" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/1).
VIDEO STILL TO COME: ABC's "World News" last night reported on Phelps' record-setting win but was unable to show highlights of the race. ABC's Bob Weir said, “The network that shall-not-be-named who paid over a billion dollars to broadcast these Games to the States ... are meager with doling out the highlights” (“World News,” ABC, 7/31).
THIS IS "TODAY": This morning’s “Today” show focused primarily on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team winning the Gold Medal for the first time in 16 years and Phelps becoming the most-decorated Olympian of all-time. The episode led with a short interview with all five members of the gymnastics team. Following a highlights package of yesterday’s action, the gymnasts sat for a live interview with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. The parents of each gymnast later were interviewed. The opening hour also featured live interviews with Gold Medal-winning swimmers Ricky Berens and Conor Dwyer and U.S. men’s basketball F Carmelo Anthony. Swimming analyst Rowdy Gaines and NBCOlympics.com’s Alan Abrahamson discussed the in-pool success of Phelps and Missy Franklin. The second hour included former Gold Medalists Carly Patterson and Mary Lou Retton discussing the women’s gymnastics team and a live interview with U.S. beach volleyball players Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser. Men’s gymnast Danell Leyva also was profiled. The third hour included live interviews with gymnastics analysts Tim Daggett and Elfi Schlegel, Gold Medal-winning skeet shooter Vincent Hancock and Bronze Medal-winning swimmer Caitlin Leverenz. Profiles of women’s gymnast Gabby Douglas and Australian swimmer James Magnussen also aired (THE DAILY). Meanwhile, NBC London Olympics Exec Producer Jim Bell, who is also the Exec Producer for "Today," refuted a N.Y. Daily News report that Hoda Kotb is in London to give the program a "ratings boost." Bell, speaking on SiriusXM Radio's "Mad Dog Radio," said, "Absolute nonsense. That's a garbage story. Anybody who watches the show knows that we've been running a thing with Kathie Lee and Hoda for weeks talking about why Hoda should go to the Olympics. So I have no idea. It was pathetic reporting" ("Mad Dog Radio," SiriusXM, 7/31).
NBC London Olympics Exec Producer Jim Bell yesterday addressed the net's tape-delay strategy during an appearance on SiriusXM's "Mad Dog Radio." Bell said, "When a company invests the kind of money that we have in the Olympics, we have absolutely every right to protect that investment. We've tried to utilize new technology to stream everything live, all the events live for the hard-core sports fan. But the fact is, and the numbers would seem to bear this out, there's still a huge audience out there of people who want to watch this stuff at a time when it is convenient for them, when there are mass audiences, when people can gather around and watch TV, and one of the last great family viewing events out there." Bell also said he has been pleasantly surprised by the London Games' TV ratings. "They are well above what we had expected," he said. "We thought if we can kind of keep it where we did in Athens (in 2004) that's going to be a big win. Well, we've gone well beyond that, and we've still got a long way to go here, but the early results have just been hugely, hugely satisfying" ("Mad Dog Radio," SiriusXM, 7/31).
NBC UNFAIRLY TAKING HEAT: In DC, Lisa de Moraes writes one of the "more popular sports" of the London Games has been "something called The Thrashing of NBC." This event -- in which NBC is "pilloried for failing to air popular Olympics competitions live, instead holding them to broadcast in prime time -- has been going on for ages." But this sport "has really come into its own with the 2012 Games, which, as others have noted, marks the first year that competitors have been able to widely use Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites to score points on NBC." Unfortunately, for "all those who believe NBC is failing viewers by not providing live coverage of the London Games, the United States is not actually the center of the universe, and not every country in the world that hosts the Games agrees to operate on United States East Coast Time during the Games" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/1). ESPN’s J.A. Adande said analysts "overstate the influence and the impact of Twitter," as studies show that "only some 15% of Internet users are actively on Twitter every day." Adande: "The vast majority of the people watching these Games are kind of these legacy viewers that are used to watching things on television.” SB Nation's Bomani Jones said,"As much as people are complaining on Twitter about what’s happening, you watch the timeline during those events while they’re on television. People are cheering like that stuff is happening, like people don’t know there’s a time difference. It’s not that big a deal” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/31).
WHAT ELSE SHOULD THEY DO? DAILY VARIETY's Andrew Wallenstein wrote, "When you look at the TV ratings, it's hard to square the undeniable success NBC has had over the first three days -- 35.8 million viewer average makes London the most watched Summer Olympics to date -- with all the supposed dissatisfaction out there." Wallenstein asked, "Is it not reasonable to deduce that: a) if more people are watching the Olympics than ever, then... b) more people are happy with the Olympics than ever... c) doesn't that make the disproportionate amount of coverage about those who are unhappy unwarranted?" That "doesn't mean criticism of Olympics coverage doesn't merit any coverage." What is questionable "is the sheer volume of this coverage relative to other angles that could be taken." Even if "every single human with a Twitter account in the U.S. did disdain NBC's Olympics coverage -- a population of 140 million by a recent estimate -- there's still a majority of Americans whose thoughts on the Olympics aren't being heard" (VARIETY.com, 7/31). AD AGE’s Simon Dumenco offers a few thoughts about NBC's Olympics strategy “and the operatic freak-outs about NBC's Olympics strategy.” His four points: 1) "It has been perverse fun watching ad-supported, for-profit media outlets freak the hell out because of the business decisions made by ad-supported, for-profit NBC;" 2) "There is something insanely white-collar elitist media circle-jerkish about all this whining about tape delays;" 3) "Comparing the BBC's Olympics-broadcast business strategy to NBC's is just idiotic;" 4) "It bears repeating: NBC is not a charity" (ADAGE.com, 7/31).
SPOILER ALERT: In Phoenix, Megan Finnerty in a front-page piece writes spoilers, "contrary to popular belief, don't necessarily diminish people's enjoyment of a good story." Univ. of California-San Diego professor Nicholas Christenfield said, "In fact, they may heighten it." He said, "One can see the drama unfold more clearly if one knows the outcome." Finnerty noted rather than "cannibalizing the prime-time audience, daytime news and social-media coverage seems to be serving as a kind of hype machine for evening watching" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/1). In Oklahoma City, Don Mecoy writes, "In today's brave new media world, that old-school method still works." TV ratings on the first few nights of Olympic coverage "were strong, outpacing those of the Beijing games of 2008, when fewer people had access to instant results" (OKLAHOMAN, 8/1). However, USA Today columnist Christine Brennan said, "NBC is doing a great disservice to itself and frankly, embarrassing itself because it should come into the 21st century” (“NewsHour,” PBS, 7/31).
CAN'T SIT ON NEWS: In Chicago, Manker & Doyle note insulating yourself "from Olympic information can be challenging," as various media outlets have "sent alerts of wins or posted headlines about them online" before the events air on NBC. ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Mike Leber said, "We think that our fans and our viewers and our users want the information as quickly as we can get it to them. As far as the information, the results, we handle it the same as we would anything else for our viewers." Chicago Tribune Associate Managing Sports Editor Mike Kellams said that the newspaper "also posts results in real time as it would for Bears games and other sporting events of interests to its readers" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/1). The network news broadcasts are resorting to giving warnings to viewers before announcing the results of some events. NBC's Brian Williams said, "Here's what we have to do tonight, because news was made here today and it’s already been flashed all around the world. We have to talk about some real results, something we normally try not to do for the sake of those folks who like to watch it happen in primetime. So fair warning here” ("Nightly News," NBC, 7/31). CBS’ Scott Pelley last night said, “We got an earful from some of you today because we reported yesterday’s Olympic results before the delayed broadcast that runs behind the Games by several hours. Well, here comes another Olympic story, so don’t say we didn’t warn you this time” ("Evening News," CBS, 7/31).
Through the first three days, audiences for Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium’s coverage of the London Games are averaging 2.1 million viewers overall throughout its 22 hours of daily coverage and 2.8 million in primetime. The daily average is up 74% compared to the same period for the '08 Beijing Games. The Consortium’s tape-delayed primetime coverage on CTV is averaging 1.9 million viewers, 45% higher than CBC’s live/taped primetime coverage of the same period in ’08. For the start of the London Games to date, 28 million Canadians have watched some coverage on Consortium channels (Bell Media).
INTERNATIONAL RATINGS: The GUARDIAN's John Plunkett noted the biggest Olympics audience in Great Britain came Monday evening "with the peaktime Olympics programme featuring a host of swimming finals and semi-finals, attracting a five-minute peak of 8.8 million viewers." British diver Tom Daley "just missing out on an Olympic medal in the synchronised platform diving attracted a peak audience of 7 million on Monday, while more than 5 million tuned in to see the Team GB men's gymnastics team win bronze." BBC1's coverage of the diving "had a five-minute peak of 6.4 million viewers just before 4pm on Monday, with a further 600,000 on digital channel BBC Olympics 10." BBC1's afternoon Olympic programming between 1:45pm and 4:00pm local time "averaged 3.7 million viewers (36.9%), with an average of 4.8 million (35.6%) tuning in between 4pm and 6pm" (GUARDIAN, 7/31). Meanwhile, in Sydney, Michael Bodey reported the Nine network recorded a 40% share Monday as the London Games "continued to dominate viewing." Preliminary ratings showed the "early evening London Live telecast averaged 1.82 million viewers." Meanwhile, the later evening session, featuring the France-Australia women’s basketball game that went to OT, averaged 1.51 million viewers. Nine had a 36.4% "channel share (including the GEM simulcast in HD) and a 40.0 per cent network share against" Seven’s 17.2% channel share, ABC1’s 12.9% and Ten’s 11.6% (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/31).
Agent Peter Carlisle, who reps U.S. Gold Medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps, believes that his client "could make more than $100 million in his lifetime," according to Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Phelps last night became the winningest Olympian of all time and collected his 19th career medal in the 200-meter freestyle relay, Carlisle believes that Phelps will "need to continue signing endorsements, promoting his foundation, traveling to international markets and developing new lines of business like the Michael Phelps Skills Center, a remote training system being piloted in Maine." If the pilot program works, Carlisle "has ambitions of taking it to other markets." Additionally, Carlisle has "already begun working on renewals with Phelps' current roster of sponsors: Visa, Omega, Under Armour, Hilton, Master Spas, Proctor & Gamble, Subway, Speedo, Pure Sport and HP." Phelps reportedly earns "more than $5 million a year from those deals." Carlisle said that several renewals and one new deal, "which is scheduled to be announced after the London Games, are completed, but he declined to disclose specifics." Omega President Stephen Urquhart last week said that the company "planned to re-sign Phelps." In terms of new deals, Phelps "still doesn't have a traditional beverage endorsement, and that's the one category Carlisle wants to fill after London 2012." He said, "That's a category that most iconic athletes is the first one they do. In his case, it's not been for a number of different reasons. Now he eases his way out of the competition side and focuses internationally, it makes sense." Carlisle has installed four swim spas in Maine "built by Phelps' sponsor Master Spas that can be used by local competitive swimmers," and footage of those swimmers "can be taped or watched live and reviewed by Bob Bowman, Phelps' coach, and his staff" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/30 issue).
LETTING THEIR PLAN RUN ITS COURSE: Carlisle said he and Phelps have "looked at sponsorships in a different way" during the swimmer's historic Olympic run. Carlisle: "At the start, it was a 10-year plan -- 10 years of competition essentially -- and our goal was essentially to have a very strong global platform so that when he was done with the competitive side of the sport, we’d have a sustainable global marketing platform for decades to follow.” Fox Business' Liz Claman noted there is a “very small window” for Olympic athletes to cash in and asked how the two “stretch it and keep it open.” Carlisle said that “partnerships now have to be not only longer in duration, but they’ve got to be a lot more meaningful.” Carlisle added, “It’s much less a financial consideration as it is the depth and meaning of the partnerships. … It is much more of a partnership than just the transactional spokesperson deal.” Claman noted that Carlisle told her he "will make a major announcement after the Olympics of a global sponsor that is starting a partnership with Michael Phelps." Claman: "It was not U.S.-based but it was something that Michael said to him previously, ‘Why can’t you get me that?’" (“Countdown to the Closing Bell,” Fox Business, 7/31).
ON TOP OF THE MOMENT: IOC TOP sponsor Visa has introduced a new ad congratulating Phelps on becoming the most decorated Olympian of all time. For the ad, Visa used video and photo cheers from fans in the U.S. that were submitted via the company’s Cheer application on Facebook in addition to footage of Phelps. The spot, titled “Congratulations Michael,” debuted on NBC following his win last night in the 200-meter freestyle relay (Visa).
LEAVING HIS MARK: In Baltimore, Jean Marbella in a front-page piece writes, "No one has ever dominated the Games as Phelps has." He has "always said that his primary goal has been to elevate his sport, and it is clear that in many ways he has done that." The gratitude Phelps' teammates "feel toward him, for shining a greater spotlight on a sport that used to get ignored except every four years, has been palpable this week as they face his exit" (Baltimore SUN, 8/1). In London, Dan Hodges writes Phelps has "achieved more than any of his colleagues have ever done, and will likely ever do." He has "stood on the medal podium and filled the lenses of NBCs cameras more times than any other human being" (London TELEGRAPH, 8/1). In DC, Mike Wise notes South African swimmer Chad le Clos, who out-touched Phelps at the wall during the 200-meter butterfly, "spent most of his news conference talking about the thrill of beating the man he had idolized since being a sixth-grader watching Phelps perform in Athens." Wise writes, "This is Phelps' legacy: He has so inspired 12-year-old kids that they've now grown up to beat him" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/1).
GREATEST OF ALL TIME? In London, Matt Dickinson notes as Phelps "made history, he also ignited a million pub arguments about whether the most medals is the same thing as Greatest Olympian of All Time" (LONDON TIMES, 8/1). USA TODAY's Erik Brady in a front-page piece writes under the header, "The Greatest: Michael Phelps Swims Into Olympics History With His 19th Medal -- A Gold" (USA TODAY, 8/1). In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck writes, "Baltimore's own stands alone" (Baltimore SUN, 8/1). In Colorado Springs, David Ramsey notes Phelps was the two-time Olympic champion in the 200-meter butterfly and writes he is "now struggling with time." Like everyone else "who ever has lived, he’s losing the battle." Ramsey: "The Greatest Olympian of Them All is now vulnerable. And easier to love" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 8/1). The FINANCIAL TIMES' Roger Blitz writes, "Whatever the pressures he has faced in London, they do nothing to diminish his standing in the pantheon of Olympic greats, and his claim to be the finest swimmer the world has seen" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/1). In London, Simon Hart writes Phelps' silver medal in the 200-meter butterfly was "proof that his pre-eminence in the pool is now well and truly over as he gets ready for retirement immediately after events in London" (London TELEGRAPH, 8/1). NBCOlympics.com's Alan Abrahamson said, “I think what the Silver Medal showed is that he's imperfect, just like everybody else. People think that he's an automaton. In fact, he just made a mistake." Abrahamson later noted LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe stated Phelps is the most successful Olympian of all-time but maybe not the greatest. Abrahamson: “I say this as someone who’s known Seb for long time ... and Seb comes from track and field. I think Seb would tell you that his friend Daley Thompson is the greatest or Roger Bannister is the greatest.” Rowdy Gaines disagreed and said, “I don't think it's even close. I don't know why we're even having this conversation.” NBC's Matt Lauer replied, “Because I had 30 seconds left. That's why” ("Today," NBC, 8/1).
Dick Franklin, the father of U.S.Gold Medal-winning swimmer Missy Franklin, said that agents and corporate sponsors “have approached him about representing his daughter” despite the swimmer's pledge to stay an amateur and compete in college, according to John Henderson of the DENVER POST. Franklin’s parents said that whether or not she swims in college is “ultimately her decision." But Henderson reports the family is "keeping options open.” Dick Franklin said, "If there were to be some horrendous amount of corporate money thrown at her, then you'd have to sit down with her and say, 'Honey, I don't know that you understand what $1 million or $2 million is but that could be your children's education. That could be your house when you get married.'” He added, “If she goes, 'Yeah, but you know, I still want to swim for my school,' then that's what she's going to do." Dick Franklin, who previously negotiated endorsement contracts at Reebok and Head, said, "The money will be there in four years. In my experience, most of the corporations will come after her about 18 months, 12 months before the next Olympics. Rio's 2016 so it would be sometime after her sophomore year (of college). I think they'd come after her with a vengeance to sign her up for Rio." Henderson notes it is "unclear how much money Franklin could make in endorsements.” She is considered the “new face of American women's swimming,” but projected endorsement money “often isn't as great once the excitement of the Olympics fade” (DENVER POST, 8/1). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Eric Reguly notes Franklin’s amateur status means she is “turning down small fortunes in prize money -- about $150,000 so far -- and greater fortunes in potential sponsorship money.” Her parents “know that going pro has its downsides and just want Missy to explore all her options, being careful to be neutral even though the money is tempting” (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/1).
The London Independent's Guy Adams had his Twitter account reinstated yesterday and promptly tweeted, "My Twitter account appears to have been un-suspended. Did I miss much while I was away?" (THE DAILY). Adams also posted a story on the INDEPENDENT's website. He wrote, "Even now that my account has been re-activated, all I got was a four-sentence email from Twitter’s ‘Trust and Safety’ department telling me the initial complaint had been retracted. ... I’d also like to ask how Twitter responds to widespread allegations that its decision to suspend my account was improperly influenced by its relationship with a commercial partner" (INDEPENDENT.co.uk, 7/31). The AP’s Jay Cohen reports Twitter is “acknowledging a mistake in how it handled” the tweet posted by Adams that included the e-mail of the NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel. Twitter General Counsel Alex Macgillivray yesterday in a blog post wrote that the “company's team working with NBC for their Olympic partnership ‘proactively’ identified the tweet it said was in violation of its rules and encouraged the network to report it.” Macgillivray: “This behavior is not acceptable and undermines the trust our users have in us.” NBC Sports also issued a statement, saying that it wanted “to protect its executive, not get Adams suspended from Twitter.” The statement read in part, "We didn't initially understand the repercussions of our complaint, but now that we do, we have rescinded it” (AP, 8/1).
ADMITTING WRONGDOING: In N.Y., Christine Haughney wrote “both Twitter and NBC backpedaled” yesterday. Twitter Media Partnerships Dir Chloe Sladden “personally apologized on her Twitter feed for ‘the oversight,’” but the initial suspension “already put both companies out of favor with many Twitter faithful.” Analytic and research company Topsy, which tracks Twitter activity, found that over the last 24-hour period, there were “more than 32,000 mentions of #NBCFail and more than 14,000 mentions of @guyadams.” Adams said that he had about “4,500 followers before he was kicked off Twitter.” He had “16,300 followers” last night when his account was reinstated (NYTIMES.com, 7/31). The GUARDIAN’s Katie Rogers wrote the incident has not done Adams "much harm,” as he has returned to Twitter "with tens of thousands of new followers.” Meanwhile, both organizations “sought to extricate themselves from the mess with as much dignity as possible.” Twitter acknowledged it had “flunked the situation by actively reporting the offending tweet to NBC, with which it had been working in partnership for the Olympics.” Rogers wrote, “In the end, NBC’s big hopes for ‘enormous contribution’ to the Olympics conversation out of a partnership with Twitter came true. The problem -- and a rookie mistake, really -- was their joined hope to control it” (GUARDIAN, 8/1).
LOSING THE PUBLIC'S TRUST? The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Waters & Steel note Twitter has “admitted that a commercial relationship with NBC played a central part in its censorship," and that disclosure "brought a torrent of critical tweets on Tuesday, making the case a prominent test of Twitter’s ability to build a profitable business without undermining its self-declared status as one of the web’s most open platforms for self-expression” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/1). In London, Alistair Dawber writes Twitter “has been caught up in a storm of its own making.” The blog Technically Incorrect notes sources at Twitter "suggest that because such a senior NBC executive complained, a little tension has blossomed in the two companies’ commercial partnership” (London INDEPENDENT, 8/1). The GUARDIAN’s John Kampfner asks, “Why did Twitter freeze the account of the journalist Guy Adams, and not those of assorted cranks and screamers who inhabit the space every day?” The argument “is laughable, suggesting that Twitter has moved into the corporate camp, where favours to clients matter more than the openness of the forum” (GUARDIAN, 8/1). In S.F., James Temple wrote, “Let’s be perfectly clear: Twitter suspended a user for committing an act of journalism. The mind-boggling move undermines the San Francisco’s startup’s credibility as a supposed advocate of open communications.” Twitter’s actions raise “troubling questions about how readily the company will trade what had been a leadership stance on free speech for commercial interests” (SFGATE.com, 7/31). MARKETWATCH's Therese Poletti noted Twitter after its apology yesterday "appears to be doing the right thing," but the "actions of its own staffers will now be debated and are likely to hang over the company’s chirpy little bird like a dark cloud" (MARKETWATCH.com, 7/31).
The IOC "has no regrets about embracing social media for what some are calling the first 'Twitter Games,' despite two athletes having been expelled for tweets and others being abused online," according to Nick Mulvenney of REUTERS. IOC Communications Dir Mark Adams said that the organization "would continue to encourage the use of social media around the Games and was probably powerless to stop it even if it wanted to." Adams said, "Used in the right way, we embrace social media" (REUTERS, 7/31). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Ovide & Stewart note the first social media Olympics "have become a minefield for the Olympic movement -- and especially for Twitter Inc." Since the Games kicked off Friday, the Olympics "have become a flash point for social media run amok." For Twitter, the "firestorms -- specifically with NBC and the suspension of the journalist's account -- have been largely embarrassing" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/1). The AP's Paul Haven writes under the header, "Olympics Awash In Twitter, For Better Or Worse." Twitter has "fast become an indispensable part of the Olympic scene" (AP, 8/1).
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY: The GUARDIAN's Josh Halliday notes some "well-known personalities are quitting Twitter after becoming the target of abusive messages from anonymous" posters. The messages directed at British diver Tom Daley "shortly after his Olympics disappointment on Monday are the latest example of cyberbullies taking aim on Twitter." Several British athletes competing at the Games "have found themselves targeted by a small but aggressive minority on the social network." Halliday: "Twitter has become an indispensable part of the Olympics" (GUARDIAN, 8/1)....FIFA President Sepp Blatter has confirmed that he "supports the decision to send Michel Morganella back to Switzerland for making a racist Tweet." Blatter, a Switzerland native, admitted that he had "been embarrassed by the incident at a time when the spectre of racism is rearing its head once more." Blatter: "It is embarrassing for the whole football family. It is embarrassing for the entire Olympic Games" (London INDEPENDENT, 8/1)....In Boston, Jessica Van Sack notes unlike athletes "who opted to use their 140 characters to protest Olympic organizers’ restrictions on outside ads or rail against vicious fans," U.S. Gold Medal-winning gymnast Aly Raisman "is keeping things light, positive and focused on the excitement of the games." Several athletes "have not been as prudent, whether letting cruel spectators get the better of them or simply letting their thin skin show" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/1).
Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent said none of the seats the company was given to the London Games for being an IOC TOP sponsor are "are going empty.” Kent said, “We have people that are making sure that we don’t have any empty seats and we have usage of our tickets. That’s the key, usage rate of our tickets” (Fox Business, 7/30). Kent added, “We not only have brought a great number of partners (and) customers, but also we have worked with youth in Britain and given the opportunity for those tickets to be used by people that are termed as ‘future flames,’ ‘young consumers,’ etc, youth from the street games that we also support.” The company has a “very, very high usage of tickets from all the tickets that have been allocated to us as a partner of the Olympic Games.” But he added, “I’m not sure that the empty seats are solely the responsibility of sponsors and partners of the IOC. I think perhaps there may be other reasons that I would not know about.” Meanwhile, Kent said of Coca-Cola’s Olympic sponsorship, “I don’t think about it as a typical sponsorship. This is a long partnership that started in 1928. I couldn’t see a better fusion of our ideals, values and those of the Olympic Games of enthusiasm, of fair play, of excitement, of bringing communities from all around the world together. That’s very much in-line with our own values and our own beliefs and heritage.” Despite the difficulty in quantifying ROI for the company, Kent said Coca-Cola can "count the amount of mentions, of amount of positive basically relationships that are generated with our brands, we can count those" ("Quest Means Business," CNN Int'l, 7/30).
TIME IS ON MY SIDE: CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla noted IOC TOP sponsor Omega is the official timekeeper for the Olympics and the “only sponsor whose name may be visible within a venue.” Omega President & CEO Stephen Urquhart said it is “difficult to give you a dollar figure” on all the visual impressions the company gets from its sponsorship. However he said it is "very important to the brand" that spectators and viewers see the Omega name. Urquhart: "It’s also important all we do around below the line and above the line to explain what timekeeping is all about” (“Squawk on the Street,” CNBC, 7/31).
Members of the British Olympic Association have called on the IOC to “invest in a centralised ticketing system in time for the Rio 2016 Games to avoid the ugly sight of empty seats at supposedly sold-out events,” according to Ashling O’Connor of the LONDON TIMES. LOCOG on Monday night “released a further 3,800 seats across 15 sports after accredited allocations were handed back.” The move is a “reaction to the public outrage, which LOCOG is doing its best to appease, and not an acknowledgement that the way tickets are distributed to the ‘Olympic family’ -- international federations, IOC members, athletes and their team officials, sponsors and the media is archaic.” BOA Chair Colin Moynihan said, “It’s a major ask for any organising committee to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in a ticketing system from a clean sheet of paper. The IOC has to take the lead to make sure the investment is in place for a state-of-the-art Olympic system that can be rolled from Games to Games. It’s so important to the sporting public of the host city and the host country to get it right.” O’Connor notes attendance figures for the first three days of the Games “showed that the Olympic venue capacity was 86 per cent, 92 per cent and 88 per cent respectively.” On Sunday, 856,000 people attended events, “including an estimated 500,000 along the men’s road race route.” An estimated 300,000 people watched the women's road race, “bringing the total number of spectators to 900,000.” About 370,000 people attended events on Monday (LONDON TIMES, 8/1). The IOC “would not comment specifically on the possibility of establishing a centralised ticketing system that is adapted for each games, but said that its auditors would ‘look at all the options’” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/31).
FILLING SEATS: In London, Jacquelin Magnay notes LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton today made a “rare appearance at the main press conference of the day.” He said that it is “extraordinary how the venues are working and the spectators are enjoying a fantastic Games experience.” There are “still 75,000 non football tickets available and 200,000 football tickets available.” Deighton said that LOCOG “sold 56,000 tickets yesterday, including 9,000 from reallocated tickets from accredited areas” (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 8/1). The TELEGRAPH’s Richard Alleyne writes around 60,000 Olympic seats a day -- "more than one in 10 sold -- have been left empty.” LOCOG officials have “disclosed that on the first day of competition, up to 14 per cent of those who obtained tickets. ... did not turn up.” On subsequent days, the “stay-aways amounted to 58,000 and 50,000 -- making the average no-show figure to be nearly 60,000” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/1). In Boston, Shira Springer notes an “informal survey of a handful of venues Tuesday seemed to indicate an improving seat situation.” The Lithuania-Nigeria men's basketball game “drew a large, spirited crowd.” There were “unoccupied seats here and there at field hockey, but nothing glaring” (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/1). In London, John Simpson notes women’s soccer “hit new heights at Wembley Stadium last night, where a crowd of more than 70,000” watched Great Britain take on Brazil (LONDON TIMES, 8/1).
The Olympic tennis tournament at Wimbledon is “not even close” to the usual experience at the facility, according to Marc Berman of the N.Y. POST. A sports agent said, “If this is your first time at Wimbledon, you’re not getting the real experience. It’s like someone hijacked Wimbledon. The Olympic organizers should’ve just let Wimbledon run it.” Berman writes there are “too many garish pink Olympic banners laced all about, overpowering the stately charm and ambiance of Wimbledon’s ivy facade.” It "could have been worse,” as the All England Club stood against IOC TOP sponsor McDonald’s, which wanted “a concession and got denied.” A source said, “The powers-that-be here blocked it.” Still, fans “can’t move about the grounds without being blasted by Coca-Cola products.” Tennis player Andy Roddick said, “It’s different. It’s weird for us. We have a history at this venue that’s not quite this. There’s different people working here. You really don’t know anyone here by a first-name basis. All the routes are different. They’re shutting off streets. It’s like the Olympified Wimbledon. It’s all different, but you have to use this venue. It’s the best tennis place in the world. It’s a no-brainer” (N.Y. POST, 8/1). In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan writes under the header, “Reserved Wimbledon Loosens Up For Olympics.” During Olympic tennis play, “there is a lot of shushing,” and any stray noise from the stands “might draw a warning or even a glare from the serving player.” A baby yesterday “cried loudly and fans waved flags and cheered loudly, even as the ushers held curtains across fifth- level entrances and restricted the movement of fans to provide a calm background for the players.” At most of the venues in and around London, it is “a bizarre sporting carnival,” but at Wimbledon, “it's pure, venerable sport, dressed up for Mardi Gras and wearing pins” (Minneapolis STAR-TRUBUNE, 8/1).
WHAT'S IN A NAME? In London, Simon Usbourne notes the gymnastics competitions “were playing out yesterday at the North Greenwich Arena,” which during non-Games period is known as the O2 Arena. The facility was “stripped of its name as part of a quiet debranding operation instigated by Games organisers according to International Olympic Committee rules on branding.” The name change is “almost enough to make you feel sorry for O2, the mobile phone people.” But when it “comes to companies, if you ain't on the list (of official sponsors) you ain't coming in” (London INDEPENDENT, 8/1).
It is “hard to miss Boris Johnson at the Olympics,” as London's “over-the-top mayor is omnipresent, even for someone used to being the center of attention,” according to Danica Kirka of the AP. Johnson has “found a forum like no other, propelling himself front and center into the lives of those who crack up at his one-liners as well as those who cringe at them.” Kirka: “Mobbed like a rock star, Teflon-like in his ability to dodge every gaffe, he is having a moment so Olympian that he spends much of his time batting off speculation that his next stop is 10 Downing Street, home of the British prime minister. ... Always acting somewhat befuddled, Boris plays a quintessentially British character, the erudite, upper-class buffoon” (AP, 7/31).
TRAFFIC CHECK AND QUIET STREETS: The AP’s Gregory Katz noted the traffic in London thus far “is flowing just fine despite the extra pressure" of the Olympics. With most London motorists “choosing to stay away or working from home, it's actually less aggravating to get around town now than usual.” Officials yesterday said that the volume of traffic “has dropped by nearly 30 percent ... easing congestion that might have been caused” by the special Games Lanes (AP, 7/31). In London, Low, Pitel & Moody note instead of the “widely predicted tourist boom, London was described yesterday as a ‘ghost town’ as overseas visitors have been deterred from coming to the capital during the Olympics.” Hotels, theaters, restaurants, museums and other attractions “all reported a drop in numbers.” European Tour Operators Association Exec Dir Tom Jenkins said that there were “an estimated 150,000 foreign visitors in London instead of the 300,000 normally expected this month” (LONDON TIMES, 8/1). In London, Grace Dent writes London is “actually TOO quiet” (London INDEPENDENT, 8/1).
HELLO LOVELY: In a special to the FINANCIAL TIMES, NBC’s Tom Brokaw writes, “In Beijing, the unofficial motto of the vast Chinese investment in urban improvements and venues was, ‘Look out world, here we come.’ In London, the message seems to be, ‘Hello. We’re still British. Lovely’” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/1).
MARKETING magazine’s Gemma Charles noted, “Several brands with direct competitors as official sponsors of the Olympics have cut their marketing spend by millions of pounds in the run up” to the London Games. Ebiquity research found that Unilever, Nestlé and MasterCard are “among those to have opted not to try to oppose their rivals and Olympic sponsors Procter & Gamble, Cadbury and Visa in the marketing stakes, and are, in effect, sitting out the Games.” Over the 12 weeks to July 15, compared with the same period in ‘11, an analysis of the ad spend of brands “competing with sponsor rivals revealed it is down overall by 6%.” The figures “refer to TV and print advertising spend” (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 7/31).
DROP A BEAT: The GUARDIAN’s Mark Sweney reports rapper Dr. Dre has “succeeded in gatecrashing the London 2012 Olympics, with an ambush marketing campaign that has seen Team GB athletes including Laura Robson and Tom Daley endorse the music entrepreneur's Beats headphones range.” The headphone brand, which is not an official IOC or LOCOG sponsor, has “skirted strict rules on ambush marketing by sending Team GB members special versions of the Beats range branded with union flag colours.” British men’s soccer G Jack Butland tweeted, "Love my GB Beats by Dre." Butland also revealed that a Beats rep “visited the team hotel on Monday.” The stunt is “unlikely to go down well” with IOC and LOCOG lawyers. The official sponsor that is “most likely to feel most aggrieved by the stunt is Panasonic” (GUARDIAN, 8/1).
LOUD CLOTHING: The AP noted U.S. men’s beach volleyball players Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser “took to the sand for the first time on Sunday night wearing a funky red, white and blue boardshort designed by Loudmouth, the same company that made the much-discussed pants the Norwegian curlers wore” during the ’10 Vancouver Games. Rogers and Dalhausser “narrowed it down from eight choices to three they'll wear in London.” Rogers said, "I don't think anyone's ever worn anything like this at the Summer Games. It's different. It's fun. Beach volleyball is a fun game, so I think they go hand in hand" (AP, 7/29). Rogers and Dalhausser appeared on NBC's "Today" this morning and played a game against the show's anchors, who were wearing Loudmouth gear ("Today," NBC, 8/1).
FAIR TRADING: In London, Dominic Walsh reports InterContinental Hotels Group, the official hotel supplier to the Olympic Games, has been “accused of engaging in uncompetitive behaviour by seeking to prevent online travel agents from discounting its rooms.” The Office of Fair Trading, which “began a formal investigation into the issue in September 2010, alleges that InterContinental Hotels Group has broken competition law by fixing the price of rooms sold over the internet through Expedia and Booking.com” (LONDON TIMES, 8/1).
Prince Harry, Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton “dropped in on the British Olympic team's official residence to wish them good luck and to admire the bronze medal won by swimmer Rebecca Adlington.” Both William and Harry were wearing white Olympics shirts and "toured the quarters for the women's handball players” (AP, 7/31).
DRAWING INSPIRATION: In DC, Barry Svrluga noted being in London during the Olympics has “further focused” Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin on the '14 Sochi Games. Though the NHL “hasn’t committed to allowing its players to return to the Olympics -- which requires a break in its schedule -- Ovechkin reiterated that he doesn’t care. He’s going anyway.” Ovechkin said, “All the world’s talking about it. ... Nothing can stop my mind, and different minds -- Russian players. It’s no doubt. You can see how it was a couple of years ago in Vancouver. The Canadians, how they played in front of home crowds. It’s unbelievable. It’s the best” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 7/31).
TEE TIME: In L.A., Bill Dwyre notes Golf HOFer Greg Norman is in London serving as a spokesperson for IOC TOP sponsor Omega to promote golf's return to the Olympics beginning with the ’16 Rio Games. Norman said, “You know what I love about the Olympics? If you win a bronze medal, you are a hero. If you finish third in a golf tournament, you are a choker. That’s what we should all take away from the Olympics” (L.A. TIMES, 8/1).
ROCK THE VOTE: MARKETING magazine’s John Reynolds reports LOCOG Brand, Marketing & Culture Dir Greg Nugent has “volunteered to join the campaign for the re-election” of President Obama. Nugent will be “moving to the US in the next few months and is likely to join Obama's campaign team in September, campaigning up until the end of the year.” It is “unclear what Nugent will do afterwards” (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.uk.co, 8/1).
While much of the Twitter fodder around the London Games continues to focus on the issues surrounding NBC's tape-delayed coverage, the Twitterverse also is seeing a spike in famous shout-outs to U.S. Olympians. President Barack Obama: “Congrats to Michael Phelps for breaking the all-time Olympic medal record. You’ve made your country proud. –bo.” Phelps replied, “Thank you Mr. President!! It's an honor representing the #USA !! The best country in the world!!” Oprah Winfrey tweeted, “WOW ! what a moment. The Fab Five!!!!! #TeamUSA Gymnastics!” Musician Lady Gaga wrote, “Woohoo! Gold for the ladies! just want to squeeze them! So much talent and beauty. Did u seem all holding hands? There's no ‘I’ in team.” Boxing HOFer Sugar Ray Leonard: “Congratulations to the fabulous 5 for the Gold! So Proud of you!!”
Olympic tweets of interest revolving around the coverage:
The Hollywood Reporter’s Lacey Rose: “Gymnastic Announcer No. 1 ‘Was it that bad?’ Gymnastic Announcer No. 2 ‘It was catastrophic!’ #LoveTheOlympics.”
76ers CEO Adam Aron: “Retweet if you are proud to see 76ers Doug Collins broadcasting the Olympics. Gives us stature and respect, a help in luring free agents.”
ESPN’s Keri Potts: “Am so conditioned to hide my eyes & ears from Oly results that when Costas gives actual results, I change channel scared I'll see them.”
CBS Sports’ Bryan Fischer: “You can't keep defending NBC's business model when they're selling $1 billion worth of ads and still losing money on the Olympics.”
NPR’s Ben Bergman: “Why we still watch big events on TV: I missed what announcer called ‘iconic moment in Olympic history’ b/c stream buffered in last 100m.”
NBC's Michelle Beadle: "The amount of whining about tweeting results has become utterly comical. It's quite simple. Stay off sites giving information. Ex: Twitter."
Each day during the Summer Games, THE DAILY offers our take on the business performances of some of the people, sponsors, broadcasters and other entities around London.MEDALMEDALIST
GOLD: U.S. WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS TEAM -- The golden girls have not disappointed in London, winning the team gold medal last night, the first for the U.S. in 16 years. With Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman set for the all-around final, and numerous medal hopes in the individual events, the U.S. women are poised to be one of the major stories of the Games -- with their sponsors happily along for the ride.
SILVER: MICHAEL PHELPS -- Even though a somewhat lackadaisical last four years may have finally caught up to the great one, Phelps still managed to set the record as the most decorated Olympian ever last night. Phelps now has 19 Olympic medals overall, 15 of them gold, but he has had a shaky London Games up to this point, losing the 200-meter butterfly for the first time in a major competition in over a decade and finishing off the medal stand in the 400-meter IM. But with three events remaining, he still has a chance to further make history.
BRONZE: VISA'S "GO WORLD" CAMPAIGN -- Always an Olympic marketing leader, Visa has collected more than 28 million "cheers" from fans worldwide for its "Go World" campaign, and the spots promoting it have been viewed more than 25 million times on YouTube. Among the cheers Visa received, 1.9 million came in the form of "likes" on the company's Facebook page.
TIN: NBC'S TWITTER FLAP -- The move to ban reporter Guy Adams from Twitter after he tweeted NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel's e-mail address in frustration over tape-delayed coverage backfired this week. The subject became fodder across the Internet, and NBC and Twitter did not fare well in public opinion. Adams' Twitter account was reinstated yesterday, but in hindsight it might have been best to just let him rant to his 4,500 followers at the time.
SportsBusiness Daily/SportsBusiness Journal has launched a free website exclusively geared to the Summer Games that will feature news, video, blogs and much more from London. See the site today for the following news:
Meanwhile, see today’s issue of SBD Global for the following stories you may have missed: