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SBD/August 6, 2012/OlympicsPrint All
NBC Saturday night -- for the first time during the London Games -- drew a smaller primetime audience than it did for the same night during the '08 Beijing Games. The net finished with a 15.9 final rating and 28.0 million viewers for coverage featuring U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps’ final Olympic swim. Those figures are both down 11% from a 17.8 rating and 31.6 million viewers on the comparable night in ’08, which had live coverage of Phelps winning his record-setting eighth Gold Medal in Beijing, as well as Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt winning a Gold Medal in the 100 meters. Saturday night’s coverage also was the smallest audience of the London Games to date. NBC remains on track to deliver the highest rated, non-U.S. Olympics since the ‘76 Montreal Games. Through nine nights, the net is averaging an 18.9 rating and 33.9 million viewers, up 9% and 12%, respectively, from the same period in Beijing (NBC). In N.Y., Bill Carter writes for six of the first seven nights in London, NBC's telecasts have “averaged more than 30 million viewers; the Beijing Games had only five nights of 30 million or more.” Last Thursday’s total of 36.8 million viewers made the broadcast “the most-watched television show on a Thursday night since the finale of ‘Friends’ in 2004 (52.5 million)” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/6). CABLEFAX DAILY reports subscribers have verified 6.2 million devices “either on NBCOlympics.com or on the NBC Olympics Live Extra App.” This is believed to be “the most device verifications ever for a single event in TV Everywhere history” (CABLEFAX DAILY, 8/6).PRIMETIME OLYMPIC RATINGSDayLondonBeijingAthensSydneyAtlanta
Opening CeremonyFri.21.018.814.616.223.6 Night 2Sat.15.813.911.813.117.2 Night 3Sun.19.818.115.414.622.9 Night 4Mon.18.017.616.613.822.9 Night 5Tues.21.820.018.315.527.2 Night 6Wed.17.916.717.314.622.4 Night 7Thurs.21.117.919.314.926.8 Night 8Fri.188.8.131.524.917.9 Night 9Sat.15.917.613.613.319.49-Night Avg.18.917.415.814.622.3
BAD TIMING AWARD: NBC indicated that “no offense was intended by a poorly timed promotional ad featuring a monkey on gymnastics rings that aired on the network directly following a commentary by Bob Costas on Gabby Douglas' gold medal inspiring other African-American girls to take up the sport.” The AP’s David Bauder reported the gymnastics-themed ad for NBC's upcoming comedy "Animal Practice" was “specifically timed to run late Thursday night following the women's gold medal competition.” NBC said that it was “scheduled to run before the network knew about Costas' commentary” (AP, 8/4).
THROWING POWER PUNCHES: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote NBC boxing announcers Bob Papa and Teddy Atlas “deserve a gold medal -- or a raise.” They have “turned in the best performance among the roster of mouths NBC has assembled to work week one of the Olympics.” Papa and Atlas through Thursday had called 108 fights, but none was “as wild and appalling as the bantamweight bout between Japan’s Satoshi Shimizu and Azerbaijain’s Magomed Abdulhamidov, who piled up a big lead going into the third and final round.” Shimizu came out “firing in the third, knocking down Abdulhamidov six times.” The ref -- Ishanguly Meretnyyazov of Turkmenistan -- “never once issued a standing eight count.” Raissman: “From the first knockdown on, Papa, loudly, wigged over the ref’s inaction. Then Atlas exploded.” Atlas said, “There’s no doubt the referee is favoring the fighter from Azerbaijain.” Raissman noted anyone doubting Atlas “had to explain why, after one particular knockdown, the referee was urging Abdulhamidov to get up.” Raissman: “Falling right in line with this fix, er, fight, the judges declared Abdulhamidov the winner, which led Papa to deliver a line that will resonate throughout the rest of the boxing competition.” Papa: “Everybody here should look at themselves and realize why this sport is considered a joke” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/5).
ON-AIR REVIEWS: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick wrote Costas sounds “committed to returning from London with his credibility.” The primetime host has been “carefully able to speak the future in the past tense, which comes in handy when you’re promoting the primetime appearance of events long ago ended.” Costas referred to Phelps by saying, “He swam,” followed by “and we’ll show you that later on.” On the “other side of the Olympic coin is NBC’s ‘Today Show,’ which every morning has banged the drums obnoxiously for primetime coverage of events -- being held as ‘Today’ is airing!” (N.Y. POST, 8/5). Mushnick today writes it is "noteworthy how so few complaints -- and many compliments -- arrive about Ted Robinson, who yesterday called the Roger Federer-Andy Murray gold-medal match for NBC.” Robinson "keeps it smooth, unobtrusive and non-intrusive” (N.Y. POST, 8/6). NBC’s Mike Emrick is calling the water polo coverage, and he said of the assignment, “This is my second run at it. I learn something every day about the sport.” Emrick is known for his hockey coverage, and YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski asked, “How many of the classic Doc Emrick hockey calls find their way into your water polo coverage?” Emrick: “There is some crossover, like hitting the post and the crossbar. ... Once in a while, I'll catch myself calling it a breakaway. It's called a ‘counterattack’” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/4).
BROADCASTERS & FANS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Forelle & Enrich in a front-page piece write under the header, “The Loudest Olympic Fans? The Hardbitten Folks In The Press Box.” Many of the 21,000 members of the Olympic media “could be part of a traveling fan brigade, living the thrills and disappointments of their national squads.” American networks, which “rarely engage in open rooting, are leaving little doubt about their allegiances during these Olympic Games.” Forelle & Enrich note when the gun “goes off, its commentators are more or less calling the race.” But “not so for Emanuele Dotto, who called the men’s singles kayaking final for Italian radio.” Italian paddler Daniele Molmenti, whom he referred to as “our boy,” was a medal contender. Dotto said, “We can’t root against, we can only root for” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/6).
THIS IS "TODAY": NBC’s “Today” this morning broke from its usual format when broadcasting live from the Olympics, as it led the program with a report on the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. The first mention of the Olympics, a segment on Bolt winning the men’s 100-meter race and highlights from other weekend action, came approximately 12 minutes into the show. A large amount of the Olympic content on the show dealt with the performance of the U.S. swim team. Live interviews were conducted with Gold Medal-winning swimmers MISSY FRANKLIN and KATIE LEDECKY, as well as an interview with six other members of the team. A taped segment aired in the first hour on Phelps being the “greatest Olympian of our time.” The completed tennis tournament also garnered significant time, as Gold Medalists VENUS WILLIAMS and BOB and MIKE BRYAN were interviewed live, while a taped segment about Britain's ANDY MURRAY winning a Gold Medal also aired. Other Olympic segments included a tour of the Int’l Broadcast Centre with NBC’s RYAN SEACREST and live interviews with South African sprinter OSCAR PISTORIUS and Gold Medal-winning rifle shooter JAMIE GRAY (THE DAILY).
CANADIAN PRIDE: Canadian audiences for the London Games continue to grow, with viewership up 89% over the '08 Games during days 4-6 compared to a 74% lead for days 1-3. An average audience 1.9 million viewers tuned in throughout Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium’s 22 hours of daily coverage from July 31-Aug. 2, with an average audience of 3 million viewers in primetime alone. Daytime has received 2 million viewers tuning in on average between 6:00am-6:00pm on Consortium channels (Bell Media). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Bruce Dowbiggin writes the Consortium's coverage has been "mixed" so far. The decision “to go live has been a boon, but it has a downside,” as there is “nothing more difficult in television than riding the tiger of live TV.” Many of the consortium’s on-air talents -- particularly the analysts -- “are attractive former Canadian athletic heroes parachuted into their chairs instead of the veteran voices that typified CBC coverage.” Dowbiggin: “Growing your own timber is fine, but don’t ask your pitchers to start their careers in the World Series.” The inexperienced analysts “have filled the air with overheated prose.” But all things considered, the consortium “gets a 6.5 out of 10 for its start” (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/6).
BETTER NUMBERS ON BBC: The GUARDIAN’s John Plunkett writes Bolt's win in the men's 100 meters “was watched by just over 20 million BBC viewers on Sunday night -- the London 2012 Olympics' biggest UK audience to date outside of the opening ceremony.” A total of 19.4 million viewers watched on BBC 1, while 628,000 watched on BBC Olympics 3 and 66,000 watched in 3D on the BBC HD channel. This “topped the games' previous highest peak audience for live sporting action, the 17.1 million who watched Mo Farah win the 10,000m on Saturday, and the 16.3 million who saw Jessica Ennis secure heptathlon gold with her victory in the 800m earlier that night” (GUARDIAN, 8/6). The AP’s David Stringer noted the Opening Ceremony “hit a peak of 26.9 million viewers -- Britain’s largest TV audience since 1998.” The BBC’s "ambitious -- and technically tricky -- Olympic plan has worked almost without a flaw.” The broadcaster is “screening 24 extra channels and 24 often simultaneous online streams, with the goal of offering the most comprehensive coverage ever of events at a Summer Games” (AP, 8/4).
The IOC has "praised London's organisation" as the Olympics enter its second week for "showcasing the very best of British," according to Owen Gibson of the GUARDIAN. IOC Olympic Games Exec Dir Gilbert Felli said, "We can feel the atmosphere in the stadium, in the city. All the members of the Olympic family are thrilled with this outcome." Felli paid tribute to the "fantastic Opening Ceremony" and the "iconic venues." LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton said that the organization had "toned down" the loud music in the stadium following complaints from some over the volume of the "pulsating soundtrack." Deighton: "You're not going to please everybody all of the time. We will listen and we will change it a bit" (GUARDIAN, 8/5). The LONDON TIMES reported a total of 5.1 million people have “watched Olympic events, with more than a million attending events at the Olympic Park.” Deighton revealed he would look into the possibility of "footage of different sports being broadcast into venues, to allow all Olympic spectators to watch events such as the heptathlon triumph" (LONDON TIMES, 8/5). Meanwhile, former IOC Marketing & Broadcast Rights Dir Michael Payne in a special to the FINANCIAL TIMES wrote security has been "an unintended triumph." Organizers have "somehow managed to turn fiasco into triumph." Used to high-pressure and dangerous situations, the soldiers have "radiated calm and relaxation,” and people "respond in kind." There is "banter between the soldiers and spectators." But in spite of a "great first week," there is still "a long way to go" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/3).
A JOLLY GOOD TIME: In Miami, Michelle Kaufman notes as the Games reached its midpoint, "Londoners are in a fairly jolly mood.” Kaufman: “There have been some glitches, to be sure. But organizers could not have asked for a better first week.” The weather has “held up nicely,” the 70,000 volunteers have been “perky and helpful,” and the venues “are picture-perfect.” If there have been security issues, “they haven’t been big enough to make headlines” (MIAMI HERALD, 8/5). In N.Y., Sarah Lyall wrote as the Games are half over, the “first-week euphoria has begun to give way to something else, a relief that things have gone so well so far and an incipient fatigue that comes from working hard and remaining enthusiastic for days on end.” Things operate “exceptionally well” at the Olympic Park, “considering its scale.” Upon leaving the park, Lyall was “struck by the huge crowds all leaving at once, and by the supreme good humor -- of the crowds, the volunteers, the security officials, the uniformed people who did not seem to have a clear reason to be there.” It was a stark contrast to the end of an EPL match, where the police “are stationed to prevent fans from fighting with one another and where many spectators leave in a state of utter and often violent despair” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/4).
BRAGGING RIGHTS: In London, Mayor Boris Johnson writes with “less than a week until the closing ceremony, London is on course … to deliver the world a wonderful Olympic Games” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/6). In Salt Lake City, Bill Oram asked, “What will define the legacy and personality of these 30th Summer Games? Beijing had Phelps, Athens had history, Sydney had Rulon Gardner, Atlanta had tragedy, Barcelona had the Dream Team.” Oram: “Has our moment happened, or will it smack us in these next eight days? Or is our moment not a moment at all?” (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 8/5).
SPREADING THE WORD: The GUARDIAN published a piece under the header, "The World's Journalists Give Their Verdict," in which members of the media wrote about their experiences at the Games.
- National Greek TV station ERT commentator Dimitris Konstantinidis: "The venue in Beijing might have been better, but the people here, the fans, are much better than they were in Beijing, and Athens too. The British are true sports fans and really like their sports. But Sydney 2000 was a better Games for me. There was more space to work, meet the athletes in the mixed zones and less traffic."
- France TV Athletics Consultant Bernard Four: "I don't like the buildings and the park because it is very impersonal and you feel you could be anywhere. It feels like there is the city, then the Olympic Park and they are different."
- South Africa SA Media Organization's Gary Lemke: "This is my fifth Olympics and it's hard to compare different cultures, but this is the best I've been to."
- Olympiaboken Sweden's Thomas Lindberg: "I've not experienced any long transport queues, and the support for the athletes has been fantastic. The Internet could be a lot quicker, but now I'm being picky."
- Irish Examiner's John Mooney: "This is my 10th Olympics -- the first was Montreal in 1976 -- and it's been very, very good so far. The transport is fantastic and the volunteers are so helpful. It's maybe not quite so incredibly well organised as Beijing, but it's been great" (GUARDIAN, 8/4).
The IOC is “looking to become the first sports property to land a marketing deal with Google or Facebook,” according to Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The organization hosted Google Exec Chair Eric Schmidt last week in London and is considering “turning social and digital media into a new category” of its TOP program, which includes brands such as Visa and Coca-Cola and had a price tag of $100M for the ‘09-12 period. One concern "could be in how much a social or digital media category overlaps with a traditional broadcast agreement.” IOC TV & Marketing Services Dir Timo Lumme said, "We’re interested in that space. Does that mean it will translate into a broadcast rights deal or that it translates into a marketing agreement? It’s a little too early to say, but it’s something in general we’re looking at, absolutely.” Mickle notes the idea of signing a sponsorship deal with Google or Facebook comes as the IOC "begins to re-evaluate the TOP program." It has not changed its worldwide sponsorships or "the rights that come with it since creating TOP" in ‘85 (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/6 issue).
Gold Medal-winning U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas' deal "to front Kellogg's Corn Flakes boxes is likely to be followed by endorsement deals from major marketers looking to capitalize on America's newest sports star," according to E.J. Schultz of AD AGE. IEG Senior VP/Content Strategy Jim Andrews said, "She'll be at the top of the list for companies looking to do something with a U.S. Olympic athlete." He added, "She's definitely got the potential to earn millions." Andrews said that Douglas' deals with P&G and Kellogg "will likely preclude compelling personal care and food brands from making similar deals," but other categories "seem wide open, such as apparel." He added that Douglas is "not likely to reach the sponsorship saturation of Mary Lou Retton, whose stardom and endorsement power lived on for years" after she became the first American woman to win the all-around competition at the '84 L.A. Games. But Andrews said that if Douglas can "make it to the 2016 Games in Brazil, she could approach the endorsement value of someone such as Gold Medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps" (ADAGE.com, 8/3). In Des Moines, Mark Emmert in a front-page piece wrote Douglas' appeal for advertisers and fans, "is obvious," as she is a "gifted athlete whose joy always seems to be bubbling over." Inside Magazine Publisher Chris Korotky said, "She has the power, she has the style, she has the presentation, she has the personality. I can see her on magazine covers and TV commercials." Emmert noted media attention "will surely grow, and Douglas is likely to receive top billing" on the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions, a 40-city U.S. exhibition that will run from September to November (DES MOINES REGISTER, 8/5).
RICHES LIKELY WAITING FOR HER: CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo said of Douglas, “There’s also that saying, ‘Million dollar smile.’ In Gabby’s case, she might have the first ‘Hundred million smile.’” America is "thrilled for her and Madison Avenue is thrilled to be making her offers that will make her a very wealthy young woman.” Kellogg's wasted "no time getting Douglas’ smiling face" on Corn Flakes boxes, but that is "just the beginning." Bartiromo: "She will have several advertising endorsements waiting for her when she gets home” ("Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo," CNBC, 8/3). ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said, "If you’ve got that smile, if you’re well-spoken, if you’re somebody that has successfully ingratiated yourself with the American public whereas they’re looking at you and you’re a friendly face, you’re somebody they feel they can market, then they’re going to pounce on you immediately” ("Showbiz Tonight," HLN, 8/3). ABC’s Bianna Golodryga said the Corn Flakes box is “just the beginning of an endorsement cavalcade that could be worth millions of dollars.” ABC’s Cecilia Vega said the “sky’s literally the limit” for Douglas in terms of her marketing potential. Vega: “Gabby is expected to be endorsing products that appeal to a younger female demographic.” Former U.S. gymnast Shannon Miller said the “biggest thing that Gabby needs to think about is building that legacy, what is her brand, what is she all about” (“GMA,” ABC, 8/4). Madison Avenue Sports & Entertainment COO Ed Horne said of Douglas’ earning potential, “There’s all kinds of numbers that can be thrown out, but I think the most important thing is that it’s handled properly, she makes sure that she defines her brand and then you move from there” (“CBS This Morning,” CBS, 8/4).
LET'S MAKE A DEAL: In N.Y., Juliet Macur noted Douglas has "a number of similarities" to Retton. However, the "one disadvantage is that she really did peak at the Olympics, so we're just getting to know her." Douglas signed her first sponsorship deal with P&G "a few days" after winning the Olympic Trials in July. Natalie Hawkins, Douglas' mother, initially "was nervous that all the top sponsorships were taken," but she "felt in her gut that waiting until the Olympics to sign more sponsorships was the right thing to do." Hawkins, "a single mother and debt collector, now can see that her intuition was spot on." Less than "18 hours after winning the all-around, Douglas was already on the cover of a cereal box." Macur: "Her rise into celebrity was steep" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/5). In Boston, John Powers notes Douglas after outscoring fellow U.S. gymnast Jordyn Wieber at the American Cup in March "wanted to cash in -- giving up her amateur status, and a possible college scholarship, in exchange for being able to make lucrative endorsements." Hawkins said, "I still said no. And then I had agents say, hey, look, if you don't hurry up all the deals are going to be gone, there's not going to be any money on the table." Powers notes Wieber and Aly Raisman "already had turned pro and others figured to follow." Hawkins had "spent more than $150,000 on Gabby's gymnastics with no promise that she'd recoup a dime." Hawkins said, "I didn't take it lightly. I weighed every single detail of that decision. I prayed on it, wrote a lot of pros and cons. I read a book about taking calculated risks." In the end, "she decided it made sense for Gabby to give up amateur status." The Games were "around the corner, and the way that Gabby fought through an ankle injury she sustained at the Pacific Rim meet convinced her mother that going pro was a sensible risk." Hawkins said, "I thought, OK, she's in it to win it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/6).
The majority of Olympians are "likely to find that life after gold is not very lucrative," according to the N.Y. TIMES' David Segal, who wrote under the header, "They Win Gold, But A Pot Of It Rarely Follows." There are "always a handful of breakout stars in the Games, and the most compelling and accomplished will turn up on Wheaties boxes or in Adidas ads." However such "triumphs are the exception." Octagon Managing Dir of Olympic & Action Sports Peter Carlisle, who reps Gold Medalist Michael Phelps, said, "If you're an American, you need to stand out, you need to be distinguishable. There's no way all the gold medal American swimmers will wind up in the mainstream market." Segal wrote the "trick is to be introduced to the public before your event takes place, so that the public knows you pre-triumph." To qualify "for that kind of TV time, you need a personal tale that wins the attention of NBC producers, who, courtesy of their broadcasting rights, are arguably the real king makers here." American Group Management Managing Partner Brant Feldman said, "Marketers want to sell your gold medal attributes but they also need a back story to help them sell products to Middle America" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/4).
THE VALUE OF GOLD: In Phoenix, Jeff Marshall wrote Silver and Bronze Medals are a "clear indication of an athlete's worldwide dominance in his or her sport, but to major brands writing the checks, they aren't good enough." San Diego State Univ. Marketing Dept. Chair George Belch said, "If you look at the people who've been able to cash in on endorsement deals, it's almost always people who win gold." Phoenix based sports marketing firm Lavidge Co. Dir of Business Development David Nobs said that a Gold Medal is "the trump card for athletes seeking endorsements," but there are other considerations. Nobs said, "There could be a silver or bronze medalist who has such a unique story and such a fit with a sponsor or brand that I wouldn't discard that." Marshall noted marketing execs are "quick to point out that the gold-only bias applies primarily to the United States and other highly populated countries." In smaller markets, "and where the media are less saturated by sports, even a bronze-medal winner can command significant attention." But regardless of the country, "a medal winner must pursue their endorsement opportunities quickly." MediaCom Global Head of Sports Marcus John said, "Athletes need to strike quickly or they're going to disappear" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/5).
DOING WHATEVER YOU CAN DO: U.S. female weightlifter Sarah Robles' financial struggles while pursuing Olympic Gold were profiled on NBC's "Nightly News" last night, with NBC’s Brian Williams saying, “We’ve heard a lot about the stars of these Games, some of the big ones sign endorsement deals the moment they step off the medal stand. But for every Michael Phelps or Missy Franklin, there are literally hundreds of young men and women who will never see that kind of fame or fortune." Robles prior to the Games posed for a photo shoot in heels and a dress “to pitch potential sponsors” and in turn “hopes to change the image of women weightlifters.” Robles: “A lot of people think that weightlifting will make you masculine or will change who you are, but it doesn’t change the fact that we’re still women.” Anne Thompson said Robles “has the glory" as a three-time U.S. national champion, but "not the riches,” as weightlifting "doesn’t pull in big-time endorsements” ("Nightly News," NBC, 8/5). Robles finished seventh yesterday in the super-heavyweight division (THE DAILY).
BREAKTHROUGH BRIT: MARKETING magazine's John Reynolds notes British heptathlete Jessica Ennis could net US$4.67M "a year in sponsorship deals" following her Gold Medal-win in the heptathlon on home soil. Ennis "already had a string of endorsement deals, including ones with Jaguar, Coca-Cola-owned Powerade, BA, Aviva and Procter & Gamble's skincare brand Olay." Marketing experts said that Ennis' commercial appeal "will now rocket." brandRapport Sports Marketing Dir Nigel Currie: "Because of the number of medals Britain has won, there will be even more competition for the lucrative marketing contracts but Ennis has clearly emerged as the big star." Ennis' deal with adidas "is thought to be worth around" US$498,519, which is "more than any other British athlete" (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 8/6).
RULES OF THE GAME: Gold Medal-winning U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin reiterated that she still plans to put off turning pro in order to swim in college. NBC’s Savannah Guthrie told her, “There will be a flood of sponsorship offers I’m sure." Franklin: “I know that there’s definitely going to be a talk in the future with my family and my coach just trying to figure out what is best for me. But I do want to swim in college so badly” (“Today,” NBC, 8/6). Meanwhile, in Denver, Mark Kiszla noted the “ultimate worth” of Franklin's medal haul "is tangled up in NCAA red tape.” Each individual Gold Medal “won by Franklin is worth $25,000 from the U.S. Olympic Committee’s standard bonus.” By winning the “backstroke at both 100 and 200 meters, she is guaranteed at least $50,000, plus lesser dollar amounts as a member of three American relay teams that captured a medal.” USA Swimming PR & Social Media Dir Karen Linhart said that the amount is money Franklin “can keep with no impact upon her amateur status with the NCAA.” However, Kiszla noted it "gets really interesting and more than a little confounding” when USA Swimming “bumps the reward for each individual gold medal by a sweet $75,000.” Although “contacted well before Franklin made a major splash in the Olympic pool, NCAA officials have not informed USA Swimming if acceptance of this additional $150,000 in earnings would make Franklin ineligible to compete" in college (DENVER POST, 8/5).
WHATEVER LOLO WANTS, LOLO GETS: In N.Y., Jere Longman wrote U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones "seems to have only a slim chance of winning an Olympic medal in the 100-meter hurdles and almost no possibility of winning gold." Still, Jones "has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games." This was "based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign." Jones essentially has "decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be -- vixen, virgin, victim -- to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses." If there is "a box to check off, Jones has checked it. Except for the small part about actually achieving Olympic success as a hurdler." Univ. of Western Ontario Int'l Centre for Olympic Studies Dir Janice Forsyth said, "It reminds me of Anna Kournikova. ... Limited opportunities are there for women to gain a foothold unless they sell themselves as sex kittens or virgins for sale. I don't know if this is Lolo being Lolo or part of a marketing scheme to remain relevant in an Olympic industry where if you are not the Olympic champion, you are nothing" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/5). DEADSPIN.com criticized the tone of Longman’s piece under the header, “What Did Lolo Jones Ever Do To The New York Times?”
Following Mark Spitz' retirement from swimming after winning a record seven Gold Medals at the '72 Munich Games, he did little promotional work for USA Swimming. The organization is working to be sure that will not the case with Michael Phelps, who retired Saturday night after winning his record 22nd Olympic medal. USA Swimming execs have spent almost a year talking to Phelps and his agent, Octagon Managing Dir of Olympic & Action Sports Peter Carlisle, about keeping him involved with the organization in a formal capacity. They hope it will allow them to continue growing the sport over time. “We want a playbook for the future,” said USA Swimming Exec Dir Chuck Wielgus. “Michael’s all for that. Peter’s all for that. I think Michael and USA Swimming will have a great relationship going forward ... that will stand in stark contrast to the relationship USA Swimming had and Mark Spitz had a generation ago.” Speaking the day after his final competitive swim, Phelps said he is still committed to growing the sport of swimming. That has been his career-long goal and a major reason that he signed certain deals like the $1M bonus Speedo paid when he won eight Gold Medals and broke Spitz’ record at the '08 Beijing Games. “My competitive part of my career is over,” Phelps said while speaking at a Visa press conference yesterday. “It doesn’t mean I’m done with the sport. ... I’m still going to go with my goal of trying to change the sport and take it to a new level. It hasn’t reached the peak that I want it to reach” (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).
BUILDING TO THIS DAY: In DC, Barry Svrluga writes Carlisle has spent the past decade "building endorsement contracts with an eye on this moment: the first day after [Phelps] was done as a competitor." Carlisle said, "From my view, I think he's one of the handful of truly global sports icons. In Beijing, he solidified his recognizability throughout the world. He solidified his relevance throughout the world, just with the uniqueness of what he did. But these Games, he solidified his legacy." Svrluga notes fans can "expect more commercials, more ads, more exposure, even as he transitions to a non-competitive lifestyle" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/6). Meanwhile, Phelps said working more with The Michael Phelps Foundation is the “next part of my life." Phelps: "Being able to work with kids is something that’s always been a passion of mine. ... Being able to help kids live a healthy and active lifestyle is something that’s needed in the U.S.” He added he is "looking forward to being able to relax, to be able to have some fun … and just travel the world.” Phelps: “I’m going to just start traveling, wherever the world takes me, wherever that day takes me that’s where I’m going to go” (NBC, 8/4). Phelps said he was not interested in coaching after putting his coach, Bob Bowman, “through what he’s gone through over the last 15 years." Phelps: "I don’t think I could do it. I don’t think I have the patience to do it” (WSJ.com, 8/5).
DO HORSES AWAIT? In San Diego, Ed Zieralski reports there is a "lot more to the recent tweets" between Phelps and horse trainer Bob Baffert and a "possible partnership developing" between the two and Bob Bowman, Phelps' coach. Following his final Olympic race on Saturday, Phelps sent Baffert a tweet saying, "Now me you and @coach_bowman should find our horse and make him the next Secretariat!" Baffert said that he and Phelps have "talked about Phelps' future in horseracing, but Baffert believes Phelps isn't through swimming on the Olympic level." However, Baffert does see Phelps "following Olympic skier Bode Miller's lead into horseracing" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 8/6).
SAYING CONGRATS: Procter & Gamble is running a full-page ad in this morning's USA Today that promotes its Head & Shoulders brand and features an image of Phelps and the copy, "Congratulations On Rewriting History One Stroke At A Time" (THE DAILY).
Once the “dominant arm of the U.S. Olympic team, track and field has looked more like a faded dynasty,” according to a front-page piece by Germano, Carreyrou & Cacciola of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The years of "falling medal counts” since the ‘88 Seoul Games have “yielded to swimming the title of America's highest-achieving Olympic sport.” If USATF “were a corporation, shareholders would be up in arms,” as the organization has “faced falling performance, boardroom squabbles and tensions over diversity.” Since ‘08, five CEOs and acting chiefs “have tried to straighten the course.” New CEO Max Siegel in April predicted the U.S. "would win 30 of the 141 medals" available in London, up from 23 won in the '08 Beijing Games. However, he said last week, "If we don't make 30 medals, it's certainly not going to be a failure for the team."
RACE ISSUES: Germano, Carreyrou & Cacciola outline some of the challenges facing the USATF over the years. Current and former board members note that “underlying some conflicts have been race issues tied to some events within the sport.” Some African-American athletes over the years “expressed resentment” that the organization “was run by white board members and executives.” Those complaints “diminished with the selection” of two African-Americans -- Stephanie Hightower as president in late ‘08 and Siegel as CEO in May. Hightower said that race issues "moved in both directions and masked simmering conflicts over money.” The USOC “generally earmarks more of its track-and-field contributions for sprinting and other longtime medal-winning events.” This year “it refused to allow any of its so-called high performance contributions to go to long-distance racewalkers, who are nearly all white athletes” and last won a medal at the ‘72 Munich Games. Hightower said that “many racewalkers felt discriminated against.” USOC Chief Communications Officer Patrick Sandusky “acknowledged the concerns of years past but said that the committee is ‘focused on ensuring our athletes are able to perform at their best here in London.’”
MOVING FORWARD: Siegel during his tenure with USATF has "so far shown a sharp change from the aggressive leadership style of his predecessor,” Doug Logan. Colleagues in the organization “say he better communicates with the board, as well as with athletes and their agents.” Hightower said that she "hopes track and field's worst days are behind.” Hightower: "There were a lot of people who got frustrated and walked away [after the Beijing Games]. …This is a different organization now. Come back and work with us” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/4).
High-end hospitality sales at the Olympic Park and five other venues have topped $150M, defying the recession and turning the first-time venture into a profitable enterprise for Prestige Ticketing, the firm’s top exec said. The London Games are the first to feature high-end, on-site hospitality that includes meals, drinks and tickets to events. Historically, the only hospitality at venues was for members of the IOC and their guests. But the success of Prestige Ticketing, a joint-venture that paid more than $30M for the rights, may change that at future Games. Prestige Ticketing COO Alan Gilpin said the company has sold more than 99% of its packages. Only a few packages remain for the men's Gold Medal basketball game. “That’s a hell of an achievement in this market,” Gilpin said. “It’s a tribute to the level of interest in the Olympic Games.” When London organizers decided to create a new hospitality offering for the Olympics, it put the rights to the package out to bid. Sodexo, a service and management company headquartered in France, and the Mike Burton Group, a sports and corporate hospitality company based in the U.K., won those hospitality rights. The resulting joint-venture company, Prestige, set up hospitality at six venues: Olympic Park, Eton Dorney (rowing), Horse Guards Parade (beach volleyball), Greenwich Park (equestrian), North Greenwich Arena (gymnastics and basketball) and the All England Lawn & Tennis Club. Packages ranged in price from $12,000 per ticket for the Opening Ceremony, one of the most prestigious events, to $795 for rowing qualification events. Most tickets included breakfast, a four-course lunch and a champagne reception. Corporations bought approximately 80% of the tickets, and Gilpin said many of them are using the tickets for international guests. Individuals bought the other 20%.
PROFITABILITY ASSURED: Gilpin said the company has surpassed its sales goal of $150M, ensuring it will be profitable, but he added that it will not be as profitable as it had hoped because of the amount the company invested into the hospitality venues and services. Prestige spent $12M building a three-story temporary facility in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium. The facility has a glass atrium and can accommodate 3,000 guests. It offers a four-course lunch with items like smoked salmon and foie gras before events and a post-event reception with desserts and gourmet cheeses. Gilpin said Prestige is using the venue as a showcase for what it could do at other sports events. He brought through members of the IOC this week and will host guests from UEFA and Rio '16 before the Games end. It is too late for the '14 Sochi Games to add a similar hospitality package to the Winter Games, but Rio could follow in London organizers’ footsteps and sell a similar package for '16. “We think it would work in Rio,” Gilpin said. “They’ll have a much more robust hospitality marketing after the World Cup.”
Some IOC members were “prevented from attending" the first two nights of track and field action because of "sensitivity about the empty seats in accredited areas,” according to Jacquelin Magnay of the London TELEGRAPH. IOC Olympic Games Exec Dir Gilbert Felli said that it had “relinquished some space so that it could be redistributed to the public, yet the VIP seating area still had scores of empty seats.” LOCOG said that the accredited seating areas “across all venues on Saturday were 98 per cent full, while overall there were 719,000 spectators representing 92 per cent of all tickets sold.” LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton said that some empty seats in the stadium “were ‘seat kills’ because of poor visibility or are designated photographer spots.” He said that the sponsors were “filling all of their seats” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/6).
THE FINAL SWIM: YAHOO SPORTS’ Martin Rogers noted tickets for the men’s 4x100m medley relay, the final race in Michael Phelps' Olympic career, were the "hottest seat" of the Games so far and Saturday were “changing hands on the black market for the incredible price of nearly $10,000.” One ticket scalper said, "It is all because of Phelps. We have even started quoting prices in American dollars because all the people interested are Americans who want to see him one more time." The only available tickets prior to Saturday’s race were “mainly for the highest-priced level, hence the drastically inflated asking price from scalpers.” When the tickets were released, the top ticket “sold for $704, with other levels at $461, $289, $149, and $78.” Another ticket scalper said, "Normally, I make my money by paying face value for tickets from people who don't want them anymore. This is a unique event. I am paying way, way above face” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/4).
TECH SAVVY: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Speri, Orwall & Bryan-Low noted fan Adam Naisbitt “ended up becoming a martyr for one of this city's most aggrieved demographics: the thousands who've been unable to buy tickets for the Games.” But “unlike most, Naisbitt, a tech entreprener, had the know-how to come up with a plan.” He designed a program “to automatically send his girlfriend a text when gymnastics tickets became available on the official website.” It worked “so well that he decided to share his services with the public and developed a ‘spider,’ a device that monitors the site for ticket updates every three minutes, notifying Twitter followers when they become available.” Naisbitt's Twitter handle, @2012TicketAlert, “soon had more than 7,500 followers -- all of whom were getting a time advantage in the race for tickets.” But his spider handle on Thursday “was blocked and stopped working.” Official LOCOG ticketing partner Ticketmaster Friday said that Naisbitt has “been blocked, but stressed that he wasn't targeted.” The company said that it was a "consequence of its continuing efforts to track unusual activity from individual Internet addresses” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/4). In London, Victoria Ward notes when Ticketmaster established Naisbitt’s handle “was legitimate, it was immediately reinstalled.” The Twitter alert now has over 24,000 followers (London TELEGRAPH, 8/6).
The Olympic tennis competition concluded yesterday, and there was "something that's different" at the All England Club during the event, and to say people "can't put your finger on it isn't fair, because actually you can," according to NBC's Jimmy Roberts. Change "comes slowly" to Wimbledon, and while it is "only temporary, the London Games have shaken things up in ways both amusing and occasionally spectacular.” Swiss tennis player Roger Federer, who lost the Gold Medal singles match yesterday to Great Britain's Andy Murray, said the crowd at the Olympic matches feels "very different" compared to matches during the Wimbledon championships. Federer: "The fans are much more younger I would say as well. I love it.” Roberts noted when players "can scrap the traditional white-only clothing and channel their inner Crayola, when Royals do the wave and a rock band plays on Henman Hill, clearly then something is a little different.” Players introductions were “straight out of baseball, music and all." NBC’s Ted Robinson prior to the start of the Murray-Federer match said one of the differences during Olympic play at the All England Club “that really jumps out at you having been at Wimbledon all these years: music." Robinson: "You never hear music at Centre Court, and the players have just been introduced with rock music.” NBC’s John McEnroe said the Olympics at various venues “really keep the crowd going, and I like to see that.” McEnroe: “Particularly here at Wimbledon, because we’re trying to do something different. What a perfect opportunity to do that, to add some more spice to a event here at the All England Club” (NBC, 8/5). Murray said of the atmosphere, “Different to pretty much anything I’ve been in before. I obviously played in big matches. Night matches U.S. Open we always said was the best atmosphere, but it’s not even close to what it was today” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/4).
TENNIS TRANSFORMATION: In Phoenix, Dan Bickley wrote Wimbledon “had to be ‘corporatized’ and lobotomized” to host the Olympic tournament. The pinkish-purple associated with the London Games' logo “is everywhere, clashing badly with the original tones.” Players were “allowed to wear any colors they like, breaking from the all-white attire requested at Wimbledon.” Bickley: “It's an assault on the senses.” There also is “tape on the cash register, hiding the manufacturer's name.” There are “Coca-Cola displays on every counter,” and the Rolex brand “has been covered up.” Fans cannot buy “coveted club merchandise, only official London 2012 souvenirs” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/4). In N.Y., Filip Bondy wrote, “This was Bizarro Wimbledon, a satanic All-England Club usurped by the Olympics” (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 8/6). But SI.com’s Jon Wertheim wrote the All England Club "should be toasted for its hospitality." Playing the tennis at Wimbledon was an "obvious choice once London was awarded the Games, but what exactly did the club have to gain from this?" Wertheim: "Unclear. It's not as though the AELTC needs the exposure. Its courts get used for an additional four weeks, depriving members of play. Same for the locker rooms. The Wimbledon touches and corporate partnerships get diluted. Still, the members were sports and the tennis benefited as a result” (SI.com, 8/5).
A WIN-WIN: SI.com’s Wertheim wrote, “Tennis truly thrived in the Olympics. But let's be clear: The Olympics benefited from tennis as well.” The athletes “were terrific, hanging out at the Olympic Village, taking in other events when possible and betraying no entitlement. A total win-win” (SI.com, 8/5).
Rio Olympics Organizing Committee CEO Leonardo Gryner revealed Rio 2016 wants to "flexibilize" the sale of tickets and the last-minute occupation of seats at Olympic events to "avoid the problems faced by London 2012," according to Paula Adamo Idoeta of BBC BRASIL. The committee also wants to "avoid combining two games in one session" like London has done on occasions. Gryner said, "They buy or win tickets, but they do not attend. I am certain that in Rio there will be a better result than in London, but we do recognize it's a huge challenge." Gryner also revealed that another topic of preoccupation is transportation in Rio. Gryner: "The lesson is that here (London) the transport is working well. We are going to take the experience to Rio" (BBC Brasil, 8/3). The AP's Stephen Wilson reported that Brazilian organizers are "promising full venues at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, vowing to avoid the problem of empty seats that has dogged the London Games." When it comes to the cost of the Rio Games, officials "acknowledged they don't have an exact figure." But Gryner said that Rio "should have precise budget numbers next year" (AP, 8/3). Meanwhile, the AP reported Rio organizers “plan to keep the name of disgraced former FIFA president Joao Havelange on their main stadium.” Gryner said that Havelange “is a ‘historical icon’ of Brazilian sport, and is proud to be associated with him.” Havelange last month was identified "for taking million-dollar kickbacks from World Cup television deals in the 1990s” (AP, 8/3).
AMERICAN GAMES SOON? In Baltimore, Candus Thomson notes Washington-Baltimore 2012 Regional Coalition President & CEO Dan Knise, a “key organizer of the region's unsuccessful bid” for the ‘12 Summer Games, is “gauging interest in making a run at the 2024 Games.” Knise believes "there's a little bit of a spark" in the region for another try. He said, "There have been some informal discussions with people” (Baltimore SUN, 8/6). In Phoenix, Dan Bickley asks, “When should America get back in the Olympic hosting business?” USA Basketball Chair Jerry Colangelo said that he is “hearing three cities might be interested in bidding for the next available slot in 2024: Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas.” The IOC and USOC "recently agreed on a new revenue-sharing deal that will last until 2040, one that might warm the relationship from an IOC perspective.” Chicago may be “viewed as taking a hit for the USOC, and convinced to bid again” after falling short in its effort to land the '16 Games. Dallas could use the Olympics “to stamp itself a world-class city,” while L.A. could “use the Games to modernize aging stadiums” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/6).
In London, Peter Woodman notes Mayor BORIS JOHNSON "welcomed figures showing that busy tourism and shopping areas had seen an increase in numbers during the Games." Retailers across London's Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street said that there "had been an increase in sales and a higher footfall -- the number of people going into a shop -- over the past few days." Heart of London, the business improvement district representing these areas, said that "between Monday and Thursday of last week, footfall was up 11.6% on the previous week and 16.2% up on the same week in 2011." Johnson announced that London Underground "carried more passengers last Friday than on any other day in its history with 4.4 million customers" (London INDEPENDENT, 8/6).
GIRL POWER: Dutch Bronze Medal-winning judoka EDITH BOSCH yesterday described on Twitter "how she whacked a man after he allegedly threw a bottle onto the track" at the start of the men's 100m final. Bosch: "A drunken spectator threw a bottle onto the track! I HAVE BEATEN HIM ... unbelievable." A London police spokesperson said that a man "had been heard shouting abuse and was then seen throwing a bottle immediately before the race," won by Jamaican sprinter USAIN BOLT. Police said that nobody "was injured during the incident and the event was not disrupted" (London INDEPENDENT, 8/6).
BRAND RECOGNITION: U.S. women's soccer F ABBY WAMBACH, a Gatorade endorser, during a press conference yesterday "moved aside the bottles of Coca-Cola and Powerade that organizers place beside microphones" during interview sessions. Wambach said that she was "following the example" of Heat F LEBRON JAMES. James is a Powerade endorser and Wambach said, "I love how LeBron didn't even take a sip of Gatorade when he was cramping during the Finals" (USATODAY.com, 8/5).
PROBLEMS FOR PARENTS: ILEANA LOCHTE, the mother of U.S. Gold Medal-winning swimmer RYAN LOCHTE, last month filed a motion "to dismiss a lawsuit from CitiMortgage seeking to recoup $250,000." She said that none of her children were "aware of her financial situation." Ileana Lochte: "We didn't discuss this with Ryan or any of my children, really. I would never allow him to help us." Ryan Lochte said that when he "brought this up to his mom, she took the same stance" (USA TODAY, 8/6)....NATALIE HAWKINS, the mother of U.S. Gold Medal-winning gymnast GABBY DOUGLAS, "filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy." Hawkins said that it was "her best option so she could continue to pay bills and keep her home in Virginia Beach while looking toward the future (L.A. TIMES, 8/6).
NAMES: U.S. Gold Medal-winning sprinter SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS, wife of Jaguars CB AARON ROSS, yesterday "was shown on the scoreboard" at EverBank Field following Jaguars practice after she won the women's 400m race. It was a "surprise treat" for the team and the 1,112 fans in attendance (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 8/6)....Comedian CHELSEA HANDLER "learned about tennis players' superstitions the hard way" as she was a guest of Russian tennis player MARIA SHARAPOVA "early in the tournament" at the London Games. As Sharapova "kept winning, there were requests for Handler to return" (SI.com, 8/5)....The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Bruce Orwall writes with "more than a week remaining in the London Olympics, awkwardly large WENLOCK and MANDEVILLE dolls are already on offer at an 80% discount" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/4)....U.S.Gold Medal-winning swimmer MICHAEL PHELPS "earlier this year" listed his Baltimore condo for $1.42M. After lowering the original listing price, it sold for $1.25M last week (TMZ.com, 8/2)....There "are an estimated 9,000 betting establishments in Great Britain," and a source estimated that the London Games "will bring in more than" US$50M in wagers (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/5).
With the London Games entering its final week, much of the Olympic Twitter fodder comes from the Olympians themselves. Many athletes are taking time to congratulate their fellow competitors, reflect on their experiences, or simply have a little fun. U.S. women’s soccer F Abby Wambach wrote, “Congrats to @andymurray and I have to say that roger federer is such a class act. #truechampion.” South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius tweeted, “I woke up this morning overwhelmed by the 1000's of messages of well wishes. Thank You for making this 1 of the Greatest moments of my life!” U.S. gymnast McKayla Maroney: “Disappointed on how today turned out, but everything happens for a reason!! #noregrets.. Plus, the silver medal is actually pretty sick!!” U.S. men’s basketball F Anthony Davis: “I've been so busy that I forgot what day it was! #Olympics.” U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones: “Thanks @iamrashidajones for running that first race for me so i could rest up... They didn't even notice. I'll it from here my #lookalike.”
Other Olympic tweets of interest:
NBCSports.com’s Russ Thaler: “Wow.. Excel Centre is going wild for #katietaylor vs. @tashajonas.... Loudest it's been all games. For Men or Women.”
ESPN’s Michael Wilbon: “I'm sitting in boxing venue at 2 in the afternoon watching Ireland v Great Britain in women's boxing and God help me, but it's mesmerizing!”
Sports On Earth’s Tommy Tomlinson: “Just realized that Larry Munson calling the 100 meters would have been AWESOME.”
CBSSports.com’s Gregg Doyel: “I'd rather lose with college kids than win with LeBron, Kobe, etc. Not sure that's logical, but it's how I feel.”
Fox News’ Andy Levy: “Once you realize NBC doesn't treat the #Olympics as a sporting event everything about its coverage makes perfect sense.”
Oilers radio analyst Dan Tencer: “America: where you can watch a robot land on Mars in real time, but need to wait 10 hours for Olympic coverage on tape delay.”
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: USAIN BOLT -- A slew of questions swirled around Usain Bolt during the last year, but the Jamaican sprinter put them all to rest and cemented his place among the greatest Olympians of all time. His success is sure to help his sponsors: Puma, Visa, Gatorade, Virgin Media, Hublot, Nissan, Digicel and Regupol. It is also a big win for track and field, which has benefitted from Bolt's worldwide recognition since Beijing.
SILVER: COCA-COLA'S "BEATS" MARKETING -- Coca-Cola's "Beats" Olympic marketing campaign is as creative, comprehensive and consistent as anything at the Games. From the "Beatbox" venue in the Olympic Park to the groups of performers entertaining people around London, the beverage maker has scored a hit with its music-focused marketing.
BRONZE: BMW'S MINI MINI -- Olympic venues are supposed to be void of sponsors, but official London '12 sponsor BMW found a creative and fun way to integrate its product into the Olympic stadium -- providing radio-controlled miniature versions of its Mini that retrieve shot puts, javelins and other pieces of equipment during the track and field competition.
TIN: LONDON AQUATIC CENTRE -- The competition is over, but there is talk that the Aquatic Centre will be nominated for architectural awards. It should not be. The facility is an example of an architectural concept -- a roof that looks like a wave -- trumping function. Views inside the facility were poor because the roof dipped so far down into the stands.
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: