SBD/August 7, 2012/Olympics

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  • Usain Bolt's Win In 100 Meters Continues NBC's Strong Primetime Ratings

    NBC is averaging an 18.8 final rating and 33.6 million viewers through the first 10 nights of taped primetime coverage from the London Games, up 9% and 12%, respectively, from a 17.3 rating and 29.9 million viewers during the same period during the '08 Beijing Games. Sunday night’s coverage from 7:30-11:29pm ET, highlighted by Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt winning his second consecutive Gold Medal in the 100 meters, finished with a 17.5 rating and 31.3 million viewers. Sunday night marked the seventh night during the London Games to average over 30 million viewers, equaling the combined total from Beijing and ’04 Athens Games. NBC’s Sunday night average was up 9% and 15%, respectively, from a 16.0 rating and 27.2 million viewers during the comparable night in Beijing (NBC). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes it should not "come as a surprise to the other networks, but with NBC averaging NFL playoff-like numbers for its Olympic prime time and dispersing Olympic TV tonnage all day everyday on its various channels, ratings for other sports are being nicked" (USA TODAY, 8/7).

    PRIMETIME OLYMPIC RATINGS
     
    Day
    London
    Beijing
    Athens
    Sydney
    Atlanta
    Opening Ceremony
    Fri.
    21.0
    18.8
    14.6
    16.2
    23.6
    Night 2
    Sat.
    15.8
    13.9
    11.8
    13.1
    17.2
    Night 3
    Sun.
    19.8
    18.1
    15.4
    14.6
    22.9
    Night 4
    Mon.
    18.0
    17.6
    16.6
    13.8
    22.9
    Night 5
    Tues.
    21.8
    20.0
    18.3
    15.5
    27.2
    Night 6
    Wed.
    17.9
    16.7
    17.3
    14.6
    22.4
    Night 7
    Thurs.
    21.1
    17.9
    19.3
    14.9
    26.8
    Night 8
    Fri.
    16.2
    15.2
    14.4
    14.9
    17.9
    Night 9
    Sat.
    15.9
    17.6
    13.6
    13.3
    19.4
    Night 10
    Sun.
    17.5
    16.0
    15.8
    16.0
    23.4
    10-Night Avg.
    18.8
    17.3
    15.8
    14.7
    22.5
               

    CASE OF THE MONDAYS: NBC earned a 17.5 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's primetime Olympic coverage, down 7% from an 18.9 overnight for the comparable night four years ago. The 11th night of Olympics coverage featured Gold Medal finals for men's and women's individual gymnastics events, as well as Gold Medal finals for men's track events. If the percentage decrease holds when final numbers are released later today, the decline would mark only the second time during these London Games that NBC has seen a night-over-night ratings drop compared to Beijing (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

    COMBINATION PLATTER WANTED: USA TODAY's Hiestand reports only 12% of respondents in a national Gallup Daily tracking survey would "handle the broadcast the way NBC is doing it" -- airing marquee events taped in primetime. Seventeen percent would prefer "having results broadcast live during the day instead of on tape delay at night." However, 59% of respondents "want both: live during the day and tape delayed at night." Twelve percent had no opinion. The survey done by phone with 1,082 U.S. adults from Aug. 4-5 and contains a 4% margin of error (USA TODAY, 8/7). Meanwhile, IOC Communications Dir Mark Adams yesterday "deflected criticism aimed at NBC" over the net not showing Bolt's win in the 100 meters live. Adams said, "It’s certainly not for us to tell them how to reach their audience. If you wanted live, you could get it live.” The AP's Graham Dunbar noted other track and field finals "shown later" by NBC included the women’s 400-meters, which the U.S.' Sanya Richards-Ross won. Richards-Ross at a news conference Sunday night said that the broadcast coverage at home was “a little disappointing” (AP, 8/6). BROADCASTING & CABLE's Ben Grossman writes, "NBC boldly, and correctly, has found the right balance between online and television -- the hybrid model that studios and networks have to be pursuing to position themselves for the future without killing the golden goose." NBC’s Olympics strategy "may not be popular on Twitter, but it will be on Wall Street" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 8/6 issue).

    ADVERTISERS FANS OF TAPE DELAY: AD AGE's Jason Del Ray wrote NBC's tape-delay strategy "is essential" for advertisers. ID Media agency Exec VP & Chief Media Investment Officer Rob Bochicchio said, "It all has to funnel into prime time. No matter what people say, they aren't going to stop working to watch the gymnastics final at 1 p.m." Del Ray noted advertisers are "still waiting to see how much of a drop-off will come in week two, which typically loses momentum as swimming and gymnastics are replaced by track-and-field events and basketball finals" (ADAGE.com, 8/5). Meanwhile, Mediatech Capital Partners Managing Partner Porter Bibb noted “the biggest advertiser” during the Games is NBC, as “every third or fourth commercial is promoting an NBC series that’s going to be breaking this fall.” Bibb noted the investment in the Olympics has “never been" a good ROI in terms of the bottom line, but it is "considered by the TV executives ... to be the best promotion for their network that money can buy” (“NBR,” PBS, 8/6).

    YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE
    : USA TODAY's Robert Bianco reviews NBC London Live Extra mobile app under the header, "NBC Makes Big Strides With Its Mobile Games." He writes, "You can have an entertaining viewing experience, one that's even better now that NBC seems to have worked out some of the app's kinks." Users "still have to wait for it to buffer, and you have to adjust to the seemingly random cuts it makes to ads and infographics." But as long as "you're not expecting an HD/3-D experience, watching on a tablet or smartphone can be oddly satisfying." However, the app does not "tell you if the event you're about to watch comes complete with a British announcer or is streaming with natural sound only -- and there doesn't seem to be an intuitive way to find that out" (USA TODAY, 8/7). But in Boston, Jessica Van Sack writes NBC’s Live Extra app was “supposed to complement the world’s first-ever Social Games, but it’s really a bare-bones platform to watch the events that don’t make it to prime time live as they happen.” And that is only “when it works -- and if you can gain access to the app at all.” With “no shortage of ads in the app it’s hard to imagine how limiting the number of viewers serves the bottom line for NBC.” There are “some hints of social media existence in a separate NBC app that does not contain any Olympic live feeds, which is just more proof of the network’s lack of vision in this area” (BOSTON HERALD, 8/7).  NBC Sports & Olympics Digital VP & GM Rick Cordella "acknowledged some issues" on the first Saturday of the games, but said that they "had been rectified." He also "conceded the difficulty of serving video ads into live streams that don't contain set commercial breaks." Cordella: "There are some awkward moments where we insert ads and it doesn't completely flow in the broadcast, but at the same time you're not missing any of the key moments of competition" (ADAGE.com, 8/5).

    DRAWING PAGE VIEWS: NBCOlympics.com has surpassed 1 billion page views across its computer, mobile and tablet platforms, including the NBC Olympics and NBC Olympics Live Extra apps. Total page views reached 1.1 billion with six days left in the Games, just behind the total of 1.2 billion views for the entire '08 Beijing Games. Total video streams are at 102.6 million, 147% more than Beijing through the same period. Total hours streamed were at 13.2 million, 121% more than the comparable period in Beijing. U.S. Gold Medal-winning gymnast Gabby Douglas is the "most-clicked" athlete with 18.27 million views (NBC).

    STAYING AT HOME: On Long Island, Neil Best notes among the 670 employees at NBC's 30 Rock HQs in N.Y. are "an intrepid group of announcers and analysts calling events of less significance to American audiences." Keeping some people in N.Y. "helps keep costs down; it also limits the network's staff footprint in England, as per the IOC's request." It is "not ideal, but it is better than the nothing many Olympic sports usually get" (NEWSDAY, 8/7). The AP's David Bauder noted "less popular sports" like wrestling, team handball, badminton, fencing, archery and shooting are being broadcast out of N.Y. Kelly Tilghman, who is hosting MSNBC's daytime coverage, is set up in a studio "down the hall" from where "SNL" is filmed (AP, 8/4).

    REVISITING OLD STEREOTYPES? On Long Island, Glenn Gamboa writes NBC's coverage of the uneven bars finals last night "played out almost like a silent movie." Douglas finished eighth and last in the competition, and she "wore a look of sad resignation after her routine." Viewers could "almost hear the villain's music every time Russia's Aliya Mustafina appeared on the screen with what looked like a smug little smile." Gamboa: "No matter what the reality is, it's pretty clear what story the NBC editors want to tell about 17-year-old Mustafina and her competitiveness with America's newest sweetheart, 16-year-old Douglas. ... There's already plenty of drama in the competition, NBC. No need to manufacture more and, FYI, The Cold War ended a while ago" (NEWSDAY, 8/7).

    HEARTS ON THEIR SLEEVES: The London DAILY MAIL wrote Great Britain's victories in the Olympics "may have taken the nation’s emotions to a new level, but viewers are unhappy that the BBC’s reporters can’t seem to keep their own in check." Many have complained about "over-excited touchy-feely displays of congratulation or consolation" from the corporation’s journalists. This has included "rubbing, stroking and patting athletes" as they interview them. Viewers on Sunday "questioned the over-exuberance and urged reporters to calm down." The backlash comes after broadcaster John Inverdale "was in tears as he consoled two British rowers on Saturday who just missed out on Gold" (London DAILY MAIL, 8/6). The NATIONAL POST’s Eric Koreen writes there is a “natural bias that comes into play with the Olympics -- the flag.” Broadcasters are “expected to emphasize, and even cheer for, athletes from their countries.” In general, broadcasters “tend to fall on the side of supporting the athletes -- it backs up the Olympic ideal of the effort, not the result, being worthy.” Plus, analysts “are largely former athletes” (NATIONAL POST, 8/7).

    THIS IS "TODAY": This morning’s “Today” prominently featured the U.S. women’s soccer team's dramatic semifinal victory over Canada, leading the broadcast with it and reporting on the match throughout the broadcast. The first hour included live interviews with Gold Medal-winning pole vaulter JENN SUHR and Silver Medal-winning hurdler MICHAEL TINSLEY, Gold Medal-winning tennis player SERENA WILLIAMS, NBC’s AL MICHAELS, and gymnastics analysts TIM DAGGETT and ELFI SCHLEGEL. Taped reports were shown on the feelings Olympians experience when they win a Silver Medal as opposed to a Bronze Medal, the highs and lows experienced by the U.S. women’s gymnastics team and the status of synchronized swimming. The second hour featured live interviews with Gold Medal-winning swimmer MICHAEL PHELPS and Gold Medal-winning British heptathlete JESSICA ENNIS. A taped report of hurdler LOLO JONES aired, as did a behind-the-scenes tour of the Athlete’s Village. The third hour led with a live interview with former Gold Medalist BRUCE JENNER and included interviews with Bronze Medal-winning rifle shooter MATT EMMONS and his wife, fellow Olympian KATY EMMONS, as well as analyst LEWIS JOHNSON and NBCOlympics.com’s ALAN ABRAHAMSON discussing the track and field competition. A feature aired on ALICE COACHMAN, the first African-American woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal (THE DAILY).

    Print | Tags: Olympics, NBC
  • Visa Europe Debuts New Ad Capitalizing On Usain Bolt's Win In The 100 Meters

    Visa debuted a 10-second "Flow Faster" spot scheduled to air in the U.K. and Turkey

    Visa Europe has "turned around a 10-second ad featuring Usain Bolt's 100 metres Olympic win" as part of the company's "Flow Faster" campaign, according to Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith of BRAND REPUBLIC. The Saatchi & Saatchi-created ad, which launched on Facebook and European TV yesterday, shows Bolt "running around a track and pulling his signature 'lightning bolt' gesture." A voiceover says, "Congratulations Usain on flowing faster." The ad is scheduled to air in the U.K. and Turkey, as well as on websites in Europe (BRANDREPUBLIC.com, 8/7). REUTERS' Keith Weir noted Bolt is the "face of German sportswear company Puma," but since the company is not an Olympic sponsor, it "can only start a fresh marketing campaign built around Bolt next week once the Games are over." Bolt "looks certain to improve on annual earnings of $20 million after retaining his 100 meters Olympic title and the world record on Sunday night." Bolt is "an advertising man's dream," as his name is "made for his profession and he has won fans on the biggest global stage with a unique cocktail of cheek and cool." Bolt has a "series of lucrative sponsorship deals" in addition to Puma and Visa, including Gatorade, Swiss watchmaker Hublot, Virgin Media, Soul Electronics and Nissan. Millward Brown Global BrandZ Dir Peter Walshe "compared Bolt's marketability with former England soccer captain David Beckham, one of the most well-known sports celebrities Britain has produced" (REUTERS, 8/6).

    STAR POWER: In Australia, Glenda Kwek noted Bolt is "set to race ahead of many of his fellow Olympians with new endorsement deals, after cementing his position as the world's fastest man with back-to-back gold medals in the premier track and field event." PR firm Markson Sparks Founder Max Markson "believes the Jamaican will double his sponsorship earnings after the winning sprint in London." Markson said, "That 10 seconds is worth $2 million a second, for the next 12 months easy" (BRISBANE TIMES, 8/6). FOXSPORTS.com's Greg Couch wrote Bolt is, "and already was, the rock star of these games." Couch: "No offense to Michael Phelps, but even his winning swimming records were a warm-up act for Bolt" (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/6). ESPN's Michael Wilbon wrote Bolt is "the biggest star in the Olympic universe." Wilbon: "Bolt opens his mouth and a star comes out" (ESPN.com, 8/5). SB Nation's Bomani Jones said, "The Olympics were on loan until Usain Bolt showed up" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/6). In DC, Mike Wise wrote Bolt "is that transcendent star" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/5).

    Print | Tags: Olympics
  • Has Lolo Jones Become A Star Because Of Athleticism Or Marketability?

    Jones has appeared in ads for P&G, McDonald’s, BP and Oakley

    The U.S.’ Lolo Jones this afternoon will be going for the Gold in the 100-meter hurdles, and with all the “media attention she’s been receiving, you’d be forgiven for thinking she was favored to win the 100-meter hurdles when in fact, she’s not,” according to CBS’ Bigad Shaban. The “publicity surrounding the Lolo Jones brand is everywhere,” as she has appeared in ads for P&G, McDonald’s, BP and Oakley and has appeared on numerous magazine covers. SI’s David Epstein said a “part of Lolo’s allure is that she’s physically beautiful and that she’s very open about her personal life.” Epstein: “The U.S. team has the reigning Olympic champion who is in the shadow of someone who barely made the U.S. team, and it throws into really stark relief this issue of athletic competence versus having a push from your sponsors and being willing to pose in various ways.” Consulting Group Founder Dan Migala said, “We’re still talking about one of the best track and field athletes in the world. She’s just not the best. But what she is the best at is getting attention, and at the end of the day from a marketing perspective, what athletes want to do is get attention because brands need that attention to have the conversation with the consumers. She’s clearly showing she knows how to do that” (“CBS This Morning,” CBS, 8/6).

    KEEPING UP WITH JONES: FOXSPORTS.com's Greg Couch writes it is true that Jones, who finished seventh in the ’08 Beijing Games, and her endorsers "have been a little too obvious about building an image." Public feelings mostly "are positive about her, but now there is an unmistakable anti-Jones undercurrent, a backlash from cities and athletes." Some people "have had enough of Jones, and the months of Jones buildup leading into the Olympics." Couch: "I do get that Jones is self-promoting all the time. What I don't get is why that bothers people. Sexism? Jealousy?" (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/7). The N.Y. Daily News' Frank Isola wrote on his Twitter account, "I don't get it, Lolo Jones is supposed to turn down endorsement deals because other track runners don't get any. Seriously? ... For one, Lolo is good enough to make the Olympic team. Secondly, she looks good. That usually equals endorsements" (TWITTER.com, 8/7). SPORTING NEWS' David Whitley wrote if Jones "wasn't H-O-T, she might as well be rowing for Burma." Among her "many skills is marketing, and she has preened her way to the top of the Olympic medal stand" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/6). In Melbourne, Michael Gleeson writes Jones is “very attractive and has thus been called the Anna Kournikova of athletics, for her profile until now has outstripped her achievements compared to her teammates.” Jones has “seven large sponsors,” compared to one for teammate Dawn Harper, the reigning Olympic champion (Melbourne AGE, 8/7). In St. Louis, Vahe Gregorian writes under the header "Lolo Jones' Toughest Hurdles Come In Image Control" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/7).

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  • Gold Medal-Winning Gabby Douglas Today Will Begin Reviewing Endorsement Proposals

    Douglas' agent is sorting through endorsement offers from Fortune 100 companies

    Gold Medal-winning U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas' agent Sheryl Shade said that she has "been pitched endorsement proposals, including from Fortune 100 companies, that Douglas will review" starting today, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com.  Based on "what previous All-Around winners have taken home in endorsements, Douglas "could expect to make between $8 million and $12 million over the next four years." Shade said, "The next six months will be very lucrative." Rovell asked, "What categories most interest the 16-year-old?" Shade said that Douglas "likes orange juice and peanut butter, loves technology and fashion and is ready to pitch a car brand." Shade also said that aside from appearing on boxes of Corn Flakes, Douglas "will receive a bump in how much she earns on a traveling gymnastics tour, sponsored by Kellogg's, which begins next month" (ESPN.com, 8/6). SPORTING NEWS' David Whitley wrote the "newly anointed Olympic sweetheart lost the uneven bars" competition yesterday, but it will "take a lot more than that for her to lose her crown." Her "new status as a cash cow is also sinking in." But all this "is a lot for a 16-year-old to digest." Douglas "looked extra drained afteward, but she vowed to be ready for Tuesday's beam competition" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/6). Meanwhile, FOXSPORTS.com's Bill Reiter noted Douglas yesterday, after having "just struggled at an event she's usually able to execute nearly flawlessly, she was asked about reports that he mother is facing bankruptcy." Reiter: "This was fame, the less stellar side of it, bearing down with all its weight. To Douglas' credit she handled it with grace, aplomb and dignity. And she's just 16" (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/6).

    I CAN SEE CLARY NOW: CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS' Kelly & Shea noted Gold Medal-winning U.S. swimmer Tyler Clary will now "rely on his agency -- North Carolina-based PMG Sports ... to help him cash in." PMG President & CEO Evan Morgenstein said that the agency's plan for Clary is "to market him to companies around his Riverside, Calif. hometown." He said that Clary "likes to race cars, so the agency will pursue automotive endorsements along with a deal with swimsuit company Speedo" (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 8/5). Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble is running a full-page ad in this morning's USA Today that promotes its Gillette brand and features an image of Gold Medal-winning U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte and the copy, "You’ve Made An Entire Nation Proud. Jeah!" (THE DAILY).

    BUILDING EXPOSURE: CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS' Danny Ecker noted Chinese athletic brand Li-Ning is "endorsed by a number of Olympic athletes who will be in focus during the next few days," including Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell and Spain men's basketball G Jose Calderon. To help promote its Olympians, Li-Ning's ad agency of record, Chicago-based Acquity Group, "has helped create the 'Athlete Village,' a site that uses social media platform uNation to aggregate its athletes' online activity." The "Athlete Village" site also "shows various videos chronicling U.S. triple jumper Christian Taylor's path to the Games" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 8/6).

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  • Sport Of Swimming Looks For Bigger Exposure Outside Of Summer Games

    Lochte (r) suggests a full-time circuit would bring more exposure to the sport

    The sport of swimming “doesn't have an established worldwide circuit," but some Olympians feel is it "time to capitalize on the window of opportunity" created by the Olympics and Michael Phelps' success, according to Andrew Dampf of the AP. U.S. Gold Medal-winning swimmer Ryan Lochte said a full-time circuit is “what we need if we want to make the sport bigger than what it is or what it was." Dampf notes the “closest thing swimming has to an international regular season is the World Cup series -- eight meets over six weeks starting in October with stops in Dubai, Doha, Stockholm, Moscow, Berlin, Beijing, Tokyo and Singapore.” But the circuit “pales in comparison to winter sport World Cups like the one in Alpine skiing, or even the Diamond League” in track. It is held in “short-course venues that are half the size of Olympic pools, often failing to draw the top athletes.” Sponsorship also “plays a role” in the draw of the circuit as the current prize money at World Cup meets “is just $1,000 for race winners.” South African swimmer Cameron van der Burgh “suggested allowing swimmers to wear personal sponsors -- even non-swimming brands -- on their caps.” Van der Burgh said, "Most sponsors come and go, 'We would love to sponsor you, but how are we going to get the (exposure)?' You can't say, 'OK when I hit the wall and win and they take my photo I'll put your logo on my cap.' That's what's stopping people." Dampf notes while the World Cup is “now based exclusively in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, not too long ago there were also stops in New York and Sydney.” One of the problems for swimming organizers is “finding pools with enough seating to host big events.” The U.S. Olympic Trials drew "thousands of spectators" earlier this summer in Omaha, but they were "held in a temporary pool” (AP, 8/7).

    PHELPS STANDING FIRM: Phelps appeared on NBC’s “Today” show for a live interview with co-host Matt Lauer, and Lauer led off by asking, “So you’re standing on the medal platform and they’re playing the National Anthem after the last race. Are you going to tell me that not for a second you didn’t think, ‘I want to have this same feeling in Rio four years from now?’” Phelps: “I’m done. I’m finished. I’m retired.” Lauer said, “You say it so definitely. I trust Rowdy Gaines and Mark Spitz, and they both say you’re going to get bored of not swimming and in a couple of years you’re going to need a real outlet for your competitive juices.” Phelps replied, “The biggest thing is I can look back at my career and say I’ve done everything exactly the way I wanted to and if you can say that, I’m satisfied.” Lauer told Phelps, “Take a break, you deserve it. It’s some career, Michael” (“Today,” NBC, 8/7).

    AUSTRALIA TO EXAMINE PERFORMANCE: The AFP reported Australia "will review the disappointing performance of its much-heralded swimming team" at the London Games, as they acknowledged the world has "lifted the bar." Australia won just 10 medals - one Gold, six Silver and three Bronze -- their lowest tally since the '92 Barcelona Games. The country also was "without an individual gold medalist for the first time since the 1976 Montreal Games." Swimming Australia President David Urquhart said, "We must do everything possible to get Australian swimming back on top. This is not a time for blame and scape-goating, this is an opportunity to make the changes required to rise to the international challenge." Urquhart said that "the review will be independent and conducted" by coach Bill Sweetenham and former Olympian Susie O'Neill. O'Neill has "blamed the poor showing on a lack of discipline compared the countries such as China." Urquhart said, "We are a proud swimming nation, we have a proud history and have the swimming talent and coaches to be the best in world" (AFP, 8/6).

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  • FIBA Not Necessarily Supporting Stern On Olympic Basketball Age Limit

    USA Basketball can limit its team to players under the age of 23, as NBA Commissioner David Stern recently proposed, but do not expect the rest of the world to follow suit any time soon. FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann said that he will meet with Stern about the idea to get more details before bringing it to FIBA’s 200-plus members for approval. “When, whether, what age -- I’m not sure they have a clear mind on that,” Baumann said. “USA Basketball may make up its own mind about whether they want to come with youngsters here. That could be their choice. There is going to be a lot of debate. ... Every idea is welcome.” The 23-year-old age limit that Stern proposed has become the most-discussed, off-court issue during the Olympics. Baumann said that creating an age limit would hurt countries like Nigeria, which is still developing the game. He added that FIBA would not make a decision on the subject any time soon. The subject likely will become one of several issues the NBA and FIBA work through in the coming years. Baumann said FIBA is unhappy with the lack of international basketball exhibitions and qualifiers that are played each year. He would prefer a similar system to soccer, which sets aside a few weekends of every year for players to leave their professional clubs and play in national team games. “I don’t think there have been official games of USA Basketball in the United States qualifying for somewhere,” said Baumann, who is from Switzerland and also is a member of the IOC. “I don’t remember since 1993, the German fans haven’t seen the German national team playing in Germany. Our members have an issue with that” (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).

    TAKING SIDES: In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes it would be a "shame ... if they mess with the format of this quadrennial gathering, if they turn this into a 23-and-under free-for-all." Vaccaro: "We forget sometimes the Olympics are supposed to be about talent. ... If you hold a world championship in a sport and the world's best 300 or so players at that sport aren't invited, what's the point?" He added, "Limiting the talent pool limits the sport. And, frankly, if that's the way basketball is going, it should just hold world championships every year and stay out of the Olympics" (N.Y. POST, 8/7). But CBSSPORTS.com's Gregg Doyel wrote, "I'm tired of the Dream Team. It's way too good, except for the times when it's not nearly good enough. Either way, I'm sick of it. This is an experiment that has run its course" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/6).

    STAYING NEUTRAL: Four Thunder players -- Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the U.S. and Serge Ibaka for Spain -- are playing in London, and SI.com's Sam Amick wrote Thunder GM Sam Presti is "forever the diplomat, meaning the record will show that he was neutral on the issue of the Olympics and whether players of all ages should compete in men's basketball." However, as Presti "discussed his players' experiences in London, it was hard to miss the enthusiasm in his voice about five-ring life as we know it." He spoke "glowingly about the fringe benefits of having pros play internationally." Presti said, "It's really helpful for them to play under different circumstances; it only rounds them out as players and makes them better." He added, "I really feel like we've benefited from all of the exposures that the players have been given, and I think they're all very grateful for the opportunity too. It's fun to watch them in these situations." Amick noted Presti made it "clear that he wanted to learn more about the 23-and-under debate before forming his opinion" (SI.com, 8/6).

    Print | Tags: Olympics, NBA
  • Coe Claims Olympic Crowds Helping Change Image Of London From Last Year's Riots

    Coe said the world saw a "very different London" one year ago amid the riots

    LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe said that "huge and enthusiastic crowds at the London Olympics are helping to dispel last year's images of rioters rampaging through the capital," according to Avril Ormsby of REUTERS. Olympic officials from more than 200 countries around this time last year were in the country discussing the Games as parts of London "were burning as rioters ran through the streets, looting at will and randomly attacking passers-by." Coe said, "The world saw a very different London a year ago, and you know exactly what I'm referring to" (REUTERS, 8/6). The GUARDIAN’s Maev Kennedy notes an “estimated 9.6 million people have joined in the free events and exhibitions of the London 2012 festival, the cultural side of the Olympics, including 2.9 million who rang bells to mark the start of the Games.” London 2012 Festival & Cultural Olympiad Dir Ruth MacKenzie said audience numbers were running "well ahead of expectations" (GUARDIAN, 8/7). Meanwhile, in London, Donna Bowater notes the Paralympic Games begin with the Opening Ceremony on Wednesday, Aug. 29 and “after what could be one of Britain's best performance in the Olympic Games, it is likely to be a sell-out.” Fans have “already bought up all of the reasonably priced tickets to the ceremony” with only $470 and $780 (all figures U.S.) tickets still remaining. Organizers said that there “had been ‘unprecedented’ demand with 1.4 million tickets sold three weeks before the competition starts” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/7).

    LEAVING A LEGACY
    : In London, Morris & Milmo notes Coe has “demanded more compulsory sport in schools to capitalise on the enthusiasm generated by the Olympics and to stop Britain's stunning successes from being a flash in the pan.” U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and cabinet ministers are “now under intense pressure to reverse some of their planned cuts to sports spending, in an effort both to increase participation rates and to improve the nation's health.” Coe said, "School sport and legacy, this is (an) opportunity. This is never going to come around again. It is the vehicle of our lifetime. There is inevitably a limited window. ... We need the things in place to capitalise on that spike in interest" (London INDEPENDENT, 8/7). In London, Paul Kelso notes London’s bid to host the Games was “based on a promise to deliver a legacy,” but Coe and LOCOG Deputy Chair Keith Mills have “warned the opportunity has to be grasped if the Games motto, ‘Inspire a Generation,’ is not to prove an empty slogan.” Coe: “The government need to do what they are doing and recognise that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Debate around the legacy impact of the Games has “increased in recent days in the wake of the British team’s success, with a focus on the limited opportunities in state schools” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/7).

    TIME TO CELEBRATE: Team Great Britain officials have confirmed that “hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to line the streets of London for an Olympics victory parade in September.” The GUARDIAN's Matthew Taylor notes all of Team GB “will be invited to take part in the event that will wind its way through the centre of the city” on Sept. 10. Organizers said that the parade will “give fans and competitors the chance to celebrate together.” The parade is “expected to pass through the City of London and on to Trafalgar Square before arriving at the Queen Victoria monument in front of Buckingham Palace where the athletes will congregate for the finale” (GUARDIAN, 8/7).

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  • Please Don't Stop The Music: Venues Serve As Soundtrack For London Games

    A walk around Olympic Park is a “non-stop musical mystery tour -- all part of a boisterous music policy that aims to keep spectators pumped up,” according to Jill Lawless of the AP. The music is “inescapable -- but for visitors and staff, mostly welcome.” The music for Games venues is “predominantly British,” and it is “arranged into playlists to suit the mood.” So-called “Heritage” sports such as tennis, rowing and equestrian get a suitably “classic” soundtrack, “encompassing Adele, The Rolling Stones and orchestral Led Zeppelin.” Meanwhile, “extreme” sports such as boxing and BMX cycling get “'high octane’ accompaniment,” like the Foo Fighters. There have been some complaints “that pounding soundtracks are distracting from the competition,” but most visitors "seem to like the tunes." LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton said the organization did “tone it down a bit” after the first night of track and field events. But he insisted that the musical selection "was popular with everyone but purists.” Deighton: “There are people of course who would prefer complete silence and focus and concentration on the athletes.” Lawless writes "three songs have been impossible to escape" at these Games. David Bowie's "Heroes" has been "adopted as the British team's anthem," while "Gold" by Spandau Ballet is the BBC's "song of choice for medal-winners." Vangelis' theme from "Chariots of Fire" is played "loudly and often in all sorts of venues” (AP, 8/7).

    HOW SOON IS NOW?: The GUARDIAN's Michael Hann noted musician Morrissey has “sent an open letter to members of his fanclub attacking the ‘blistering jingoism’ of the Olympic Games.” This comes “just a week after he criticised the Olympics on stage in Manchester -- for not including the Smiths in the opening ceremony music.” Morrissey said that “far from providing a focus of national unity and good cheer,” the Olympics have “created a situation in which ‘the spirit of 1939 Germany now pervades throughout media-brand Britain.’” He “implored his fans: ‘WAKE UP WAKE UP’” (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 8/6).

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  • Olympic Names In The News

    Kate, William and Harry have attended as many as four events a day

    The AP reported PRESIDENT OBAMA "supports a measure that would exempt U.S. Olympians from taxes on their prizes." White House Press Secretary JAY CARNEY yesterday said that Obama "would do 'everything we can to support our athletes,' including signing into law legislation introduced by Republican Sen. MARCO RUBIO of Florida" (AP, 8/6).

    YOUR MAJESTY: In London, Roya Nikkhah wrote PRINCE WILLIAM, his wife, KATE MIDDLETON, and PRINCE HARRY have emerged "as the most visible brand ambassadors" for the U.K. during the London Games. The "royal trio, who have attended up to four Olympic events a day while also meeting with foreign dignitaries and international business figures, have embarked on a dedicated push to 'sell' the UK to the world during and beyond the Olympic Games" (London TELEGRAPH, 8/5).

    ENJOY COKE: In Toronto, Rosie DiManno writes Coca-Cola’s Beatbox venue in the Olympic Park is an "extraordinary -- and free -- wonder of architecture and sensations, the giant red crystalline structure made up of 200 interlocked translucent cushions, each of them the size of a billboard, packed with groundbreaking audio, lighting and 'responsive sensor technology.'" Parts of the building "can actually be played like an instrument." Users can "touch one of the pads and listen to the sound of sports: a heart thumping, gasping breaths, an archery arrow released from a bow, the squeak of basketball sneakers." It is "as close to the real thing as many people can get" (TORONTO STAR, 8/7).

    PUNK GOES POP: The GUARDIAN notes British Gold Medal-winning heptathlete JESSICA ENNIS and Gold Medal-winning cyclist BRADLEY WIGGINS last night "were among the fans at a secret STONE ROSES gig" at the Village Underground in Hoxton. Also in attendance were musicians JIMMY PAGE, MICK JONES, BOBBY GILLESPIE and BOY GEORGE (GUARDIAN, 8/7).

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  • What's Trending From London: Something In The Water

    While swimming, gymnastics and track & field have been dominating the Twittersphere for much of the London Games, the exciting finish to today's U.S.-Australia women's water polo match caused a spike in interest for the sport. The N.Y. Times' Ben Rothenberg wrote, "Insane finish to U.S.-AUS water polo semifinal. U.S. coach pulls a Chris Webber, calls illegal timeout with one second left. Aussies tie it." Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy: "USA water polo coach takes blame for TO. So, since Webber incident never happened, such an error will henceforth be known as a 'Krikorian.'" N.Y. Post's Mike Vaccaro tweeted, "Good lord. I come to water polo for a fun column about blood in the water and I get the '72 basketball final instead. #London2012." ESPN's Rick Reilly: "I really believe the Underwater Women's Water Polo Cam is the greatest invention since pasteurization. #Olympics." CSN Bay Area's Ann Killion: "I get exhausted just watching water polo. It looks like synchronized drowning. USA-AUS." 

    Other Olympic tweets of interest:

    The Guardian's Sam Jones: "#IOC now clarifying their claim that global #Olympic TV audience is 4.8bn. Now saying that is the 'potential' global TV audience." 

    Sky Sports' Orla Chennaoui: "LOCOG say empty velodrome seats could be people arriving late or going to buy coffee. Think I'd save that coffee until Hoy was done myself.." 

    BBC Radio's Gordon Farquhar: "Do the mini Minis collecting discus and hammers from field of play constitute advertising inside 'clean' Oly stadium? No say IOC."

    ESPN's Darren Rovell: "Chinese Hurdler Liu Xiang was given the benefit of the doubt when he pulled out in Beijing. His failure today now makes him unmarketable."

    U.S. Gold Medal-winning pole vaulter Jenn Suhr: "Who knew that everyone wants to talk to you when you win gold. Having a blast today at NBC."

    U.S. Bronze Medal-winning tennis player Lisa Raymond: "Just got stopped at security due to my medal- happily obliged : ))"

    Blogger Rush the Court: "Jalen Rose is right. Calling the US women's gymnastics team the 'Fab Five' is lazy. They actually won something."

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  • Medal Stand: Mascots Wenlock And Mandeville Fail To Excite The Masses

    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.

    MEDAL
    MEDALIST
     

    GOLD: OLYMPIC STADIUM ATMOSPHERE -- The atmosphere at the stadium for track and field has been unbelievable, with packed crowds of 70,000-plus amped up even for the qualifying rounds during the day. The Brits love track so much that many took a seat in the stadium an hour and a half early on the first day of competition. Throw in a competitor from Great Britain and the place simply erupts. It makes for an awfully fun in-stadium experience, and also comes across well on TV.

    SILVER: OSCAR PISTORIUS & NIKE CREATIVITY -- Nike once again found a unique way to get its brand noticed, sponsoring sprinter Oscar Pistorius and putting a small Swoosh on the South African's prosthetic legs at the London Games. Pistorius was eliminated in the semifinals of the men's 400 meters, but he is set to run the 400-meter relay later this week and compete in the Paralympic Games.

     

    BRONZE: EDITH BOSCH -- The Dutch judoka Bronze Medal-winner struck, and helped subdue, a man who threw a bottle onto the track at the Olympic Stadium shortly before Sunday night's men's 100 meters. That is poetic justice when a spectator who does something so outrageously stupid happens to be sitting next to someone who can hurt them in hundreds of different ways.

    TIN: WENLOCK & MANDEVILLE -- Why can nobody get Olympic mascots right? These two are the latest examples of creepy-looking, alien-like blobs that somebody deemed worthy of being the "faces" of an Olympic Games. It is no surprise that Wenlock and Mandeville dolls reportedly are being sold at an 80% discount in London. Would you want one?

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  • Check Out The Latest Headlines From London At SBD/SBJ's Olympic Site

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