2014 Reader Survey: College Sports Sherman Critical Of Several NFL Policies MASN Taking Aim At MLB Advance To Nats NHL, NHLPA Aim For Big Money World Cup Red Sox Willing To Go Over Luxury Tax Threshold Silver Optimistic About New Bucks' Arena Bahamas Hosting CBB Despite Gambling Executive Transactions 2014 Reader Survey: Motorsports Jeter Played No Role In Woods' Tribune Piece
SBD/August 8, 2012/OlympicsPrint All
In addition to the aggregated content in SBD, please visit our daily website produced by SBD/SBJ devoted to the London Olympics. Read from our reporters on the ground, Tripp Mickle and John Ourand, as well as other contributors, about the latest news from the Games, including for today how Team GB has inceased its social media following during the Games, a discussion of Olympic media coverage with SI's Richard Deitsch and GE targeting another $1B in sales from '14 Sochi Games.
NBC is averaging an 18.5 final rating and 33.1 million viewers through the first 11 nights of the London Games, up 8% and 12%, respectively, from a 17.2 rating and 29.6 million viewers during the same period four years ago during the '08 Beijing Games. Ten of the 11 nights have scored a better audience compared to the same nights in Beijing. The 18.5 rating marks the lowest average rating for the London Games since they began, down from the peak average of 19.5 for nights featuring competition. Monday night’s telecast finished with a 15.8 rating and 26.6 million viewers for coverage featuring the men’s 400-meter final, women’s 400-meter hurdle final and women’s uneven bars final, tying the first Saturday of these Games for the lowest-rated night of coverage from London. However, the rating is flat compared to the same night in Beijing, after overnight figures originally had the night down. Viewership is up 1% from 26.4 million viewers (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).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.126.96.36.1994.917.9 Night 9Sat.15.917.613.613.319.4 Night 10Sun.17.516.015.816.023.4 Night 11Mon.15.815.816.415.826.411-Night Avg.18.517.215.814.822.8
TUESDAY OVERNIGHT: NBC earned a 19.6 overnight for primetime coverage on Tuesday night, which the Gold Medal finals for individual gymnastics events, track & field's women's 100-meter hurdles and the second women's beach volleyball semifinal. While figures are subject to change when national numbers are released later today, that overnight is up 3% compared to the same night in Beijing (THE DAILY).
GO TEAM USA: NBC Sports Network saw its most-viewed day ever on Monday with 956,000 viewers, fueled by the U.S. men's basketball game against Argentina and the U.S. women's soccer semifinal match against Canada. For Olympic coverage from 4:00am-8:00pm ET, NBCSN averaged 1.2 million viewers, while the back-to-back Team USA games from 2:45-7:00pm averaged 3.1 million viewers. U.S.-Canada averaged 2.9 million viewers from 2:45-5:30pm. The match peaked with 3.8 million viewers in the 5:00-5:30pm window as U.S. F Alex Morgan scored the game-winning goal with just seconds left in extra time. That peak figure marked the net’s most-viewed half-hour of the Olympics to date. U.S.-Argentina averaged 3.3 million viewers from 5:30-7:00pm (NBC).
BOTH GOOD AND BAD: The AP’s David Bauder wrote NBC's Olympics Twitter feed “regularly reports news of events as they happen, as does the network's website.” The Twitter feed also “sends out alerts to followers shortly before big events are to take place, directing fans to live feeds of the action available online.” This stands “in contrast to television coverage, where the idea of not spoiling the experience for people who want to be surprised in the evening holds sway.” Media critic Jeff Jarvis said, “On the Net, they have to play by the Net's rules. On TV, they can play by their rules” (AP, 8/7). Palm Beach State College business analyst Sharon Geltner said, “The Internet cuts both ways. The good news is everyone knows what's going on. The bad news is everyone knows what's going on." She added, "I still watched the competition, but it's never as exciting when the outcome is already known” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/8).
EVERYONE'S A CRITIC: GRANTLAND.com’s Bryan Curtis wrote what is “interesting about NBC-bashing is that it should rise beyond the patrolmen of the sports media beat.” Curtis wrote, “What is it about the Games that turns everyone into a critic? First, the Olympics attract a giant audience ... including a lot of casual fans.” Some non-sports types “might not be used to the ... well ... excitement of a modern Olympic telecast.” Curtis: “We go ballistic on NBC because we get snowed by the Olympics ideal. ... It has nothing, however, to do with NBC. The network paid $1.2 billion for the broadcast rights to the London Games. It's got to use every trick -- tape delay, schmaltz -- to recoup its investment.” Twitter “didn’t create NBC’s time-lapse problem.” But it “did create a 500-million-seat stadium in which to vent” (GRANTLAND.com, 8/7).
NBC IS HARD TO NAVIGATE: The AP’s Anick Jesdanun writes under the header, “Review: Following Foreign Athletes Is Cumbersome.” Jesdanun writes with a "lot more Olympics coverage online" than a decade ago, she figured she "could do a better job of following Thai athletes, even as NBC and its cable channels focus on competitors with larger followings.” However, NBCOlympics.com “could have used a better search tool.” Jesdanun wrote, “I typed the name of a Thai swimmer, Natthanan Junkrajang, into the main search box and got nothing -- not even her bio or the results of her events. I had to go elsewhere on the site to find out the two events she had entered. Then, I had to browse through the results of those events, making sure to first hit the tab for preliminary heats.” More information on foreign athletes was found “elsewhere,” including on the BBC’s website, LOCOG’s website and Wikipedia (AP, 8/8). Meanwhile, BLOOMBERG NEWS’ Susan Crawford noted people in “at least 64 territories around the world are able to watch free live streaming video of every event.” But in the U.S. this coverage is “only available to those who pay for a cable, satellite or telephone company TV subscription that includes MSNBC and CNBC” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 8/7).
GOING MOBILE: The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Maija Palmer noted Google published data showing that Olympics-related searches over mobile phones “increased 10-fold in the first week of the games, and mobile is trumping any other technology at key moments.” The Olympics are “proving not just to be the first ‘social media games’ but also one where the mobile internet is coming of age.” In many countries in Europe, “around a third of all Olympics related searches came from mobiles and in the UK, mobiles accounted for nearly half -- 46 per cent of all Olympics queries” (FT.com, 8/7).
DIFFERENT TASTE IN SPORTS: In DC, Anthony Faiola wrote Americans are “experiencing an Olympics much different than the Games as seen by a vast global audience,” with the broadcasts “corralled by NBC and ruled by national tastes.” Hungarians are “going gaga for water polo,” while Mexicans “can’t get enough Tae Kwon Do.” The French are “obsessing over judo” and Turks are “clamoring for the start of wrestling.” Faiola: “Seemingly all of Germany is agog at Equestrian. And the Spaniards, their soccer team shockingly eliminated from the medal rounds already, have now trained their national sights on another sport likely to lead to more national heartache: men’s basketball.” The Games “remain many Olympics in one, with each country’s sporting obsession offering a unique window into their national souls” (WASHINGTON POST, 8/7).
AND THE WINNING NUMBERS ARE: IOC officials predicted that almost 900 million people "watched part of the London Games' opening ceremony on television." The IOC added that “almost nine out of 10 people in the UK have watched some coverage of the London 2012 Olympics.” They said that more than 50.57 million people, “some 88% of the total people living in the UK” have watched the Olympics (PA, 8/7). IOC TV & Marketing Services Dir Timo Lumme said that around “80 of 200 national television markets have audited figures, and others are estimated.” Lumme suggested that Gold Medal-winning sprinter Usain Bolt's win in the 100-meter final on Sunday “will likely be the sports event with the highest TV viewership” at the Games. He said, “It will comfortably clear 100 million and should be approaching 200 million.” Ratings for the London Opening Ceremony “appear to compare well with the spectacular 2008 Beijing Olympics event” (AP, 8/7).
THIS IS "TODAY": NBC’s “Today” show this morning focused on the mixed fortunes of two high-profile U.S. athletes -- Gold Medal-winning gymnast ALY RAISMAN and hurdler LOLO JONES. Both athletes were interviewed live during the first hour, with snippets replayed throughout the three-hour show. The opening hour also included live interviews with the three hurdlers who beat Jones in the 100-meters race -- Australia’s SALLY PEARSON and Americans DAWN HARPER and KELLIE WELLS -- as well as with U.S. wrestlers ELLIS COLEMAN and DREMIEL BYERS and U.S. Wrestling coach STEVE FRASER. The second hour featured a preview of the all-U.S. women’s beach volleyball final and an interview with beach volleyball announcer CHRIS MARLOWE, a taped report on Chinese hurdler LIU XIANG’s injury and live interviews with Silver Medal-winning high jumper ERIK KYNARD and Silver Medal-winning runner LEO MANZANO. A taped segment aired on table tennis player ARIEL HSING, which was followed by Hsing appearing live on set playing against “Today” co-hosts. The third hour included an interview with Silver Medal-winning cyclist SARAH HAMMER and a taped report on synchronized swimming (THE DAILY).
U.S. women's soccer F Alex Morgan's 123rd-minute goal against Canada in the semifinals Monday "served as an exclamation point to 10 days of unprecedented dominance by American female athletes and an affirmation on the 40th anniversary of Title IX that women have made great strides in sports," according to Michelle Kaufman of the MIAMI HERALD. As of yesterday evening, the U.S. women "had outperformed the U.S. men, winning 20 gold medals to the men's 10, and 36 overall to 29." Sports Management Resources President Donna Lopiano said, "There is no doubt in anybody's mind this is a direct function of our having the strongest sports law in the world as far as gender equity." The American female swimmers "had their most successful meet since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics," winning 14 medals overall and eight Gold Medals, a "huge improvement" over the two Gold Medals won in the '08 Beijing Games and three Golds at the '04 Athens Games. Also, the U.S. gymnastics squad "proved to be the most successful U.S. team in history." U.S. women's basketball F Candace Parker said that the women "feed off success of American teammates in other sports." Parker: "I've always been a fan. We do kind of feed off each other. It's kind of like a standard we've all set. We watched USA succeed, and once we get our opportunity, we want to continue that tradition" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/8). The AP's Paul Haven wrote some observers "scoffed at early hype that the games would be a breakout moment for women, but 11 days in, female athletes have dominated the headlines." Save for "a few bursts from Michael Phelps and the indomitable Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, it's hard to imagine the London Games without them." Haven: "Certainly, the 2012 Games would have lacked a majority of their defining moments." IOC Television & Marketing Services Dir Timo Lumme said that the "dominance of female athletes has sparked a surge in viewership of the games among American girls." He said that ratings are "89 percent higher among 12-to-17-year-old girls than for the hit teen drama 'Glee,' the highest-rated network show in that demographic" (AP, 8/7).
EVERY COUNTRY REPRESENTED: In Baltimore, Jean Marbella in a front-page piece writes women are "making their mark on these Olympics in other ways: This is the first time that every country has at least one woman competing." This also is the "first time the U.S. team has more women than men on it, 268 to 261, as does Canada's and Russia's." Many of the "stars who have emerged from these Games so far are women" (Baltimore SUN, 8/8). SI’s Alexander Wolff writes most people in London are choosing to "celebrate how far women have come, rather than rue how far they still have to go.” Former U.S. Gold Medal-swimmer Donna de Varona said, “These are ministeps. But even if you think they’re token gestures, they represent beacons of hope. That every country has sent women, I think, we’ll look back at as a watershed” (SI, 8/13 issue).
FEMALE FACES EMERGING: In Newark, Andrew Mills writes few countries "give its female athletes the same opportunities as the U.S., so maybe it's fitting, then, that many of the best American stories in London have been authored by women," including the "dominance of the U.S. women's swim team" and the team and individual victories for U.S. gymnastics. The women's soccer team is "one victory away from another Olympic championship," and Morgan is the "rising star on this team, the future of her sport." Mills: "This is the part that speaks to the success of women's soccer in the U.S. and the power of Title IX: She never played a single game with most of the stars from that golden generation, who retired before she joined the team" (Newark STAR LEDGER, 8/8). In DC, Barry Svrluga writes under the header "Alex Morgan Emerging As New Face Of U.S. Women's Soccer" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/8).
IS THIS REALLY GIRL POWER? FOXSPORTS.com's Jen Floyd Engel wrote, "Anybody who believes this is girl power needs to take a closer look at what it means to be truly powerful." Women at the Olympics are "winning medals and losing battles, participating in record numbers and being judged by different standards, given trails to blaze and then called whores for doing so." U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones was "ripped for being too sexy, gold medalist swimmer Allison Schmitt for not being sexy enough." Floyd Engel: "Attacks on Gabby Douglas' hairstyle overshadowed her gymnastics dominance, just as criticism of Serena Williams' celebratory dance at Wimbledon did hers. This is not girl power. This is bordering on a backlash." Women are "playing and winning." The danger is that we "confuse this with power, girl or otherwise." Floyd Engel: "Real power is not being allowed to compete. It is being allowed to compete without conditions" (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/7).
U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones failed to medal yesterday in the 100-meter event, and the N.Y. POST’s Mike Vaccaro writes under the header, “Lolo Finishes 4th But Not Out Of The Money.” Jones entering the Olympics "wasn’t anywhere near the best 100-meter hurdler in the world, and she was clearly the third-best American, based on her barely eking into the field out of the trials. There was "never a chance she would get the magazine covers she got, or the endorsements, or the attention ... on merit.” But Jones had “two essential, timeless gifts entering an Olympic year.” Jones had her story, “starting with a hardscrabble upbringing and peaking with that spill in Beijing and culminating with her four-year pursuit of redemption” and she is “easy on the eyes.” Vaccaro: “That sells. That was going to sell even before she decided to add to the drama by proclaiming herself a 30-year-old virgin, thereby earning her a pew in the cultural conversation. She looks good in advertisements. She comes across well on TV.” Vaccaro asks, “What was Lolo Jones supposed to say when the marketing men came calling? No?” (N.Y. POST, 8/8). In Tampa, Gary Shelton asks, “How do you sell her now? How do you package fourth place? How do you market a pedestrian time?” Her critics “seemed everywhere, especially in the New York Times, proclaiming that her fame off the track had grown out of proportion to her lack of success on it.” Jones said of the criticism, “I heard it was quite bad. ... I guess all the people who were talking about me … they can have their night and laugh at me, I guess.” Shelton writes, “Here's the money question, however: What was Jones supposed to do? Turn the money down?” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/8).
HER SIDE OF THE STORY: Jones appeared live this morning on NBC's "Today" and emotionally discussed the fallout from the N.Y. Times article. NBC's Savannah Guthrie said, “You mentioned you’ve been dealing with a lot of tough stuff lately. The New York Times had a very tough piece criticizing you for being more image than accomplishment. How hard was that to deal with?” Jones: “It was crazy just because it was two days before I competed, and then the fact it was from a U.S. media (outlet). They should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes and instead they just ripped me to shreds. I just thought that was crazy because I work six days a week, every day for four years for a 12-second race.” Jones, on the verge of breaking down, said, “The fact that they just tore me apart was just heartbreaking. They didn’t even do their research. They called me the ‘Anna Kournikova of track.’ I am the American record-holder indoors. I have two world indoor titles, and just because I don’t boast about these things, I don’t think I should be ripped apart by media. I laid it out there. I fought hard for my country and it’s just a shame I have to deal with so much backlash when I’m already so brokenhearted as it is” (“Today,” NBC, 8/8). Jones was in tears following her fourth place finish last night, and in Memphis, Geoff Calkins sarcastically writes, “I suppose the tears, too, were conjured? Maybe those were part of the marketing plan” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 8/8).
DOUBLE STANDARD: In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes, “It’s a nasty business, this Olympic star-making machine. These athletes have one chance every four years to rake in the real gold, the endorsement and appearance money that helps compensate them for years of training.” Most people “agree they would be fools to turn down the chance to capitalize on their success and enhance the quality of their often budget-strained lives.” Yet when Olympic athletes “seek and embrace this publicity, they are criticized unless they have the medals to back it up” (L.A. TIMES, 8/8). FOXSPORTS.com’s Greg Couch wrote, “It is not Jones’ fault that she knows how to sell herself. It’s actually important.” Jones has “sold herself endlessly, but that’s exactly what these athletes with short-term careers should be doing.” She was a “marketing creation, and now will have to go back to that.” Couch: “The self-marketing did her no harm, but instead gave her prospects. She just can’t think about that now” (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/7). In Newark, Steve Politi writes Jones' star turn was "all about ratings, and if Jones is a big enough star to make glib small talk on the ‘Tonight Show’ and pose in bikinis in magazines, why should they ignore that?” Jones should not be blamed for "benefiting from that attention” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/8). In San Jose, Mark Purdy writes, “Just because someone makes themselves famous doesn't mean the person is the best or even very good at anything in particular.” Purdy: “Jones doesn't seem like a horrible person. She just wasn't fast enough” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/8).
U.S. gymnast Aly Raisman's two individual medals -- a Gold in the floor exercise and a Bronze on the balance beam -- coupled with her Gold Medal for the team competition is "leaving her poised for endorsements galore -- but she only has a narrow window to capitalize on her golden glory," according to marketing experts cited by Tenley Woodman of the BOSTON HERALD. Boston-based marketing firm Big Fish President David Gerzof Richard said, "If you look into the past focus on gymnasts, there is Nastia Luikin. She pulled down Visa, AT&T, Adidas. Shawn Johnson, she pulled down Adidas, Cheerios, Ortega, Coca-Cola. ... These are the brands. I wouldn't be surprised if we see them right out of the gate." Woodman notes in addition to endorsements, Raisman "can look forward to sports commentary gigs and the speaking circuit." Whether she "becomes the face of a brand or goes back to training, former Olympians said she's already perfected her most marketable skill." Former Olympian Carol Feeney: "That type of work ethic never leaves you, of being someone who puts everything on the line. That stays with you your whole life" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/8).
JUST GETTING STARTED: Chicago-based Navigate Marketing President AJ Maestas said if Gold Medal-winning gymnast Gabby Douglas' "business is well-managed and her career stays on track, she should make between $2 million and $4 million in endorsement revenue per year for the next four years." Douglas' agent Sheryl Shade said, "She appeals to everyone -- to the moms who take their little girls to the gym, to the little girls who want to be like her, to the African American community. Everyone is relating to Gabby." In L.A., Diane Pucin cites sources as saying that Douglas' deal with Kellogg's Corn Flakes is "worth about $50,000." AEG Facilities Marketing Dir Tayra Lagomarsino, who is co-promoting with USA Gymnastics on the post-Olympic Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions, said that ticket sales "have increased every day since Douglas and the U.S. team won gold last week." Lagomarsino: "We've seen an uptick every day of competition. Gabby winning those golds, we're seeing her everywhere." (L.A. TIMES, 8/8).
LOYALTY PAYS: ESPN.com's Darren Rovell wrote one factor that should convince Gold Medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps to "stay out of the pool" is that he can "make more money in retirement." Phelps will "always be seen as an Olympic legend, and his status as the most decorated Olympian of all time will be difficult to beat." The companies that endorse Phelps also "have to like where they are." Most of his deals extend through '16, and by "staying with the same brands, Phelps can give them a bigger bang for their buck by appearing in advertising during future Games." That is "to say nothing of Olympic hospitality, meet-and-greets, speeches and autograph signings." Additionally, "sticking with the same brands instead of starting over also helps Phelps with his endorsement credibility" (ESPN.com, 8/7).
STUMBLE COULD HURT LIU: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Laurie Burkitt notes advertisers "stayed loyal" to Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang after he missed the 110-meter race in '08 due to an Achilles-tendon injury," but some doubt sponsors "will be so kind" after he was injured in yesterday's preliminary heat. Liu "missed the first hurdle, crashed to the ground and hopped off in what appeared to be a state of controlled agony and embarrassment." Liu has "raked in millions of dollars since winning a gold medal in the 110-meter event in 2004, becoming a megastar in the minds of a billion-plus Chinese consumers." WPP Group's JWT ad agency North Asia Chief Exec Tom Doctoroff said that companies in China "largely want to work with stars who stand out as icons of success." A Coca-Cola spokesperson "declined to comment on the company's future plans with Mr. Liu," while a Nike spokesperson prior to the race said that the "outcome did not matter" (WSJ.com, 8/8).
BOOMING IN BRITAIN: The GUARDIAN's Simon Goodley writes British cyclist Victoria Pendleton is set to become a "marketing star -- despite losing her Olympic sprint crown -- as she retires from competitive cycling." Pendleton "bowed out from the sport" after winning one Gold and one Silver Medal in London. Fast Track Sports Marketing Dir John Ridgeon said, "Victoria is hugely glamorous and alongside Jess Ennis she will be the poster girl of the Games." He added that Pendleton "could cash in with deals to promote 'lifestyle, fashion, makeup -- all the female brands.'" Goodley notes Pendleton's current deals "to endorse a host of brands from Halfords bikes and Hovis bread to Pantene beauty products and financial accounts for her image rights company, Invictus V, show how the cyclist's marketability has boomed in the run-up to London 2012" (GUARDIAN, 8/8).
As the NBA “tries to play God on Olympic basketball, pushing FIBA to legislate change that’ll render this magnificent spectacle irrelevant,” NBA Commissioner David Stern “should be forced to confront the collateral damage of his failing movement,” according to Adrian Wojnarowski of YAHOO SPORTS. Team Russia coach David Blatt said of Stern’s recommendation, “I would hope that the countries would be in an uproar about this. Who is one country to determine for everyone how international basketball should be played, and particularly how the Olympic Games should be managed? It’s not supposed to be like that. If it’s a global game, it’s a global game.” Wojnarowski noted Stern has been “met with an increasing level of resistance about his and the NBA owners’ desires to turn the Olympics into an Under-23 tournament and send the league’s superstars to an NBA-FIBA partnered World Cup of Basketball.” The resistance has gotten so high that it “wouldn’t be surprising to see Stern use this trip to England to start backpedaling to spare himself one more indignity in these sad, dark final years on the job.” Wojnarowski: “Stern should tell the owners that he’s parking the issue and leaving it to his eventual successor, [NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO] Adam Silver.” The rest of the world “has low tolerance for Stern’s bully tactics.” Lithuania G Martynas Pocius said, “It is the Olympics, and this is important. If they go to a tournament with just the young playing, it would lose all the beauty of basketball -- just another youth kind of tournament. The USA would just dominate it, because there’s just so much more talent (at the) Under-23 level.” Blatt said, “I find it a little bit contradictory that the NBA had made such a push to involve their greatest players in the Olympic movement -- and the world basketball movement -- and now when it no longer serves the interest of the teams, suddenly it’s not a good idea. So what does that mean? That the last 20 years were wrong?” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/7).
NOT INTERESTED: In Boston, Bob Ryan writes based on "everything we have seen and heard at London 2012," the idea of putting an age restriction in place "is a certified non-starter." Ryan: "From my vantage point across the pond, I would say events have overtaken the commissioner. ... That little ‘pop’ you just heard is the sound of the trial balloon being burst.” There is “enormous interest” in the U.S. team, and the “international media are enthralled with them.” Ryan: “No one -- I mean no one -- thinks this 23-and-under thing is a good idea” (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/8).
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: The U.S. men's team plays a quarterfinal game against Australia this afternoon and remains the favorite to win the Gold Medal despite teams like Spain, Argentina and France being stocked with NBA players. CBS’ Mark Phillips noted, "The NBA first allowed its players to come to the Olympics 20 years ago as a way of promoting its product and the game. Judging from how others play that game right now, it may have promoted too well” (“Evening News,” CBS, 8/7). SI’s Ian Thomsen writes even as the U.S. men’s team won all of its preliminary games, there were "signs of vulnerability.” Team Australia coach Brett Brown said of the prospect of Spain upsetting the U.S., “It would be no miracle on ice. That is not at all the parallel. These guys are ripe. They have all the pieces, they have the age, they’ve played together: It’s the holy grail of international basketball” (SI, 8/13 issue).
What has been "a slow death over the past 20 years for U.S. Olympic boxing could result in expiration" at the London Games, as no U.S. boxer will medal for the first time ever, according to Michael Wilbon of ESPN.com. The program that produced 108 Olympic medalists, including 48 Gold Medal winners, is "now a dysfunctional embarrassment," as there has been just "one gold medal in the past three Olympic competitions and one medal at the most recent world championship." USA Boxing officials "gave a stiff-arm to proven trainers" like Freddie Roach and "locked out the boxers' individual trainers to make the Olympians work with only the Olympic coach, Basheer Abdullah." While Abdullah "has been a coach with this team as an assistant or head coach" since the '00 Sydney Games, he was not named head coach of this team until June 30. On top of that, Abdullah "can't even be in the fighters' corner during the fights" due to an Olympic rule prohibiting any coach who has previously worked with a pro boxer from being in the corner during bouts. A source close to the USA Boxing trainers said, "The whole USA Boxing needs fumigation" (ESPN.com, 8/7). U.S. assistant boxing coach Charles Leverette said that it is "time for the men to go back to the beginning." Leverette: "Our foundation has kind of crumbled a little bit. We've got to go back, rebuild. It's rough, but there's nothing that can't be rebuilt." In L.A., Kevin Baxter notes the U.S. men's boxing coaching staff "wasn't in place until six weeks before" the start of the London Games. Leverette: "Watching these kids work hard and try to achieve this goal, I just don't think they had enough time. ... We've got to do something different than we've been doing. The last-minute thing, it's not working" (L.A. TIMES, 8/8).
WAYS TO GET BACK: SI.com's Chris Mannix wrote the first "medal-less Olympics in U.S. men's boxing history completed the bottoming out of a once-elite program." Fixing USA Boxing "won't be easy, but there are a few simple places to start." The steps include selecting a coach, incorporate fighters' personal coaches, participate in more global events and embracing former Olympians. But as USA Boxing "sinks to its nadir, there are reasons to be optimistic." For one, fiscal responsibility "has been restored." USA Boxing Exec Dir Anthony Bartkowski in '10 "inherited a program that had a $1.8 million deficit the year before." That deficit in '11 "was reduced to $313,000 and by the end of this year Bartkowski hopes to have it under six figures." Despite being "shut out of a medal, the U.S. qualified in 12 of the 13 weight classes, more than any other country" (SI.com, 8/7).
BEACH BUMMED? In Denver, Mark Kiszla writes, "The Olympic flame is eternal, but the world of sports now changes so fast, you're either trending or dead." On the night boxing in America "got knocked to the canvas and counted out as irrelevant," Leverette said that he was going to "go home, turn on the TV and watch beach volleyball." Leverette: "It's all about the ratings. It's a TV world" (DENVER POST, 8/8).
The small, remote-controlled versions of Mini cars “whizzing around” Olympic Stadium to shuttle javelins, discus and hammers back to the athletes "have triggered branding questions at what are strictly ad-free Olympic venues at the London Games," according to Karolos Grohmann of REUTERS. The Minis, made by IOC TOP sponsor BMW, "may not carry visible logos but are instantly recognisable for what they are." IOC TV & Marketing Services Dir Timo Lumme said there was "no commercial reason" behind choosing Minis as transporters for the athletes' equipment. Since the start of the track & field competitions last week, the Minis have "instantly become a point of discussion." Their use inside the stadium has raised questions of "whether the IOC was indirectly relaxing its own strict ad rules" (REUTERS, 8/7). The AP’s Rob Harris noted BMW's sponsorship of the London Games is “worth $63 million, including the cost of providing vehicles.” Rule 50 of the IOC charter states "commercial installations and advertising signs shall not be allowed in the stadia." IOC TOP sponsor Omega “has its logo on clocks in venues, but BMW has specifically used its Mini for a task that could have been carried out by a generic vehicle.” BMW U.K. Corporate Communications Dir Graham Biggs insisted that the rules “are being adhered to." But Harris wrote BMW's “canny use of Minis highlights the challenge sponsors face at the Olympics to secure a return on their investment when exposure is heavily restricted by the IOC” (AP, 8/7).
SUPPLY & DEMAND: In London, Shekhar Bhatia noted Olympic organizers have admitted that they have brought on "too many unpaid volunteers for the Games." They have been “astonished” by the low demand from VIPs for volunteer-chauffeured cars. So few of the BMWs are being used that many of the 9,000 drivers "have been left twiddling their thumbs for large parts of their 10-hour shifts." Many volunteers are now being given days off, "so they can fill empty seats in venues and enjoy the sporting action" (London INDEPENDENT, 8/7).
Data from TV analytics firm Ace Metrix shows that leading up to and during the first 10 days of the London Games, TV ads from IOC TOP sponsors General Electric and Coca-Cola and USOC sponsor Chobani greek yogurt "have earned the highest average Ace Scores among official Team USA and London Olympics sponsors,” according to Karlene Lukovitz of MARKETING DAILY. The Ace Score measures the “effectiveness of advertising creative, based on surveys of a representative sample of the U.S. TV viewing audience." Attributes including relevance, persuasion, watchability, information and attention “are measured to arrive at Ace Scores ranging from 1 to 950.” Chobani has pulled “an average score of 594” with its “Proudly With You” ad, part of its integrated sponsorship campaign. GE not only has “the highest-scoring ad to date -- ‘First Chance’ (646 Ace) … but the second-highest average Ace score to date (589).” Coca-Cola has “the third-highest average score (579), reflecting more than a dozen consistently high-scoring ads” (MEDIAPOST.com, 8/7).
THANK YOU, MOM: In a special to MEDIAPOST, sports marketing agency rEvolution Senior Dir of PR Dan Lobring wrote IOC TOP sponsor Procter & Gamble has been “one sponsor that has had the integrated marketing pedal to the metal from the start.” The company’s “digital onslaught started early” with its “Best Job” digital short, which salutes the mothers of Olympians. The clip “immediately went viral and has hardly slowed down.” In the week leading up to the Opening Ceremony, P&G “opened a massive, 65,000-square-foot ‘U.S. Family Home’ next to the London Bridge.” The space “connects well” with its earlier digital campaign “because it focuses on both the athletes and their families.” It “connects the two and is an excellent example of how an integrated Olympic campaign is supposed to work” (MEDIAPOST.com, 8/7).
SEARCH FOR TOMORROW: Google Dir of Financial Services John Kaplan indicated that searches for Chobani are “up 150 percent in the last 30 days,” while and P&G and fellow IOC TOP sponsor Visa “are up 40 percent or more over the last 30 days as well.” Kaplan said that advertisers are "spending a tremendous amount of money to sponsor the Olympics and ... they’re finding ways to leverage this in digital” ("Power Lunch," CNBC, 8/7).
CHANGING GEARS: MARKETING magazine's Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith reported that McDonald's has "shifted into the next phase" of its $15.7M Olympics campaign, "airing pictures and footage straight from fans during the events," which are used for its "We're All Making The Games" campaign. The crowd-sourced ads, via Leo Burnett, are made by "splicing clips of fans" watching the Games over the past week, supported by "digital outdoor ads featuring pictures that Olympics fans have posted of themselves onto a dedicated Facebook page." The first of the “reactive TV ads launched on Saturday, with another creative already being filmed to air next Saturday” (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 8/7).
HALFTIME REPORT: MARKETWATCH’s Shawn Langlois noted IOC TOP sponsor Dow execs on Sunday “gathered at the JW Steakhouse near Hyde Park to update a handful of media guests about the journey of a first-time major sponsor.” It was a “so-far-so-good tale, despite a few of the expected hiccups.” Dow Strategic Marketing Dir Dean Palmieri acknowledged that “early issues with transportation and uniforms have been endured.” But, “all in all, these relative sponsorship newbies appear to be aptly navigating this logistical nightmare.” A threat of protests by the Indian delegation in the lead-up to the Games “may be the most prominent of Dow’s impacts on Olympic Park, but the company’s products can be found just about everywhere, from the blue turf at the field-hockey venue on up to the roof, as well as in the piping” (MARKETWATCH.com, 8/7).
BEAT UP THE BEAT: Coca-Cola Global Dir of Marketing Claudia Navarro said the IOC TOP sponsor is "definitely tracking very closely and measuring every single one of the activations" around the London Games, and there are "different ways of measuring the different elements of the platform." Navarro: "One of the things that we normally track is, of course, the business impact that the communications campaign has for each of the countries activating. In the long-term, really it’s all about provoking happiness in the next generation.” Navarro said between the downloads for mobile phones and viewers following Coca-Cola’s “Beat TV,” it all indicates "we have engaged them in this concept of really get them moving to the beat” (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 8/8).
The AP’s Stephen Wilson notes ROGER BANNISTER, the first man to break the four-minute mile, was “front and center at Olympic Stadium on Tuesday night to watch the men's 1,500 meters.” He sat with LOCOG Chair SEBASTIAN COE, who won the Gold Medal in the event for Great Britain in both the '80 Moscow and '84 L.A. Games (AP, 8/8). The AP’s Jill Lawless notes former U.S. Secretary of State CONDOLEEZZA RICE was “spotted at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, and actress SUSAN SARANDON watched men's water polo alongside gold medalist CARL LEWIS on Monday.” Microsoft Founder BILL GATES “has attended events including table tennis and beach volleyball.” But otherwise, Lawless writes “megastars have been few and far between” at the Games (AP, 8/8).
NO GHOST TOUR TICKETS AVAILABLE: The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Helen Warrell noted London Mayor BORIS JOHNSON was “quick to dismiss suggestions last week that the Olympic Games had turned some parts of central London into a ghost town as tourists flocked to the stadium and Londoners heeded warnings not to overburden public transport.” Johnson said, “That’s absolutely not the case. In the West End we’ve got big crowds in the heart of London area." He added, "We’ve got footfall up about 16 per cent on last year and the (companies) are getting ... ready for crowds at Hyde Park, big crowds in Victoria Park so (things are as good) as they could possibly could be” (FT.com, 8/6).
GETTING POLITICAL: In N.Y., Peter Baker reports PRESIDENT OBAMA “cannot stop talking about the gymnasts, swimmers and soccer players” of the U.S. Olympic team on the “campaign trail nearly everywhere he goes these days.” Obama “has been wrapping himself in Olympic glory, giving shout-outs to the winners and slipping in that he just happened to call some of them personally to congratulate them on their medals” (NYTIMES.com, 8/7)....Rafalca, the horse owned by Republican Presidential candidate MITT ROMNEY’s wife, ANN, received a “score of 69.302, not enough to advance to the Grand Prix Freestyle” for the dressage finals tomorrow (N.Y. TIMES, 8/8).
IT TAKES A VILLAGE: NBC’s SAVANNAH GUTHRIE was given a behind-the-scenes tour of the Athlete’s Village and living areas by U.S. diver KELCI BRYANT, and Guthrie said, “Most people are not allowed inside, but I was lucky enough to get a look.” Guthrie said the “main hub for athletes and visitors entering the village is the International Zone, complete with its own post office, florist, market, even a hair salon" where athletes can receive free haircuts, manicures and pedicures. The first stop was the housing for Team USA, “a place normally off-limits to cameras.” The athletes can get massages at the sports medicine area and are able to make free phone calls to the U.S. Guthrie noted the village will become apartments for locals after the Olympics. Guthrie told her co-hosts, “It’s really nice accommodations. No air-conditioning, but you know what, with this weather you really don’t need it at all” (“Today,” NBC, 8/7).
PUT A STAMP ON IT: The British Paralympic Association said that champion Paralympians “will not be featured on individual stamps as their Olympic counterparts have been.” Instead, a series of “six first-class stamps featuring every medallist will be produced after the Games finish on September 9.” The BPA said that it “wanted to make sure British Paralympians were ‘recognised for their fantastic achievements’ and noted that the stamp honour was a first in the history of the Paralympics” (INDEPENDENT.co.uk, 8/8).
FAST DON'T LIE: The three-month-old cheetah cubs at the National Zoo in DC “have been named Carmelita and Justin after CARMELITA JETER and JUSTIN GATLIN, who had the best American finishes in the 100-meter dash” (AP, 8/7).
Much of the action in the Twitterverse today centers on the media's coverage of U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones, who finished fourth in last night's 100-meter hurdlers and leaves the London Games without a medal. SB Nation's Bomani Jones wrote, "so the nyt said the push behind lolo was about sex appeal, not track. can you complain about that after being on 'today' w/no medal?" Syndicated radio host Jim Rome tweeted, "I have no issue w/ LoLo Jones' crazy self-promotion. Of course, she'd be a helluva lot more interesting if she at least medalled." The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre: "I don't get the American on American crime. Dawn Harper playing the respect card? Whatever." The Financial Times' Matthew Garrahan: "Ouch - Lolo Jones came fourth in the hurdles and to make matters worse the NYT makes her cry (quite literally)." Slate.com's Josh Levin: "If 60m hurdles was in Olympics, Lolo Jones--who holds U.S. record and 2 world titles--would be an American hero. But it's not, so she stinks."
Other Olympic tweets of interest:
SI's Grant Wahl: "83,000 tickets now sold for USA-Japan Olympic women's soccer final Thursday. Will break previous Olympic women's record of 76,481 (1996)."
BDA Sports Management COO Bill Sanders: "Best thing about the Olympics? Athletes go out on top. Swan songs for May/Walsh, Phelps etc. Hate to see stars compete past their prime."
ESPN's Scott Van Pelt: "France beats Spain with a goal with one second left in handball. 23-22. Handball, y'all. It's seriously the sickest event in the games."
Yahoo Sports' Greg Wyshynski: "Watching Olympic BMX. Gonna destroy on 'Excitebike' when I get back home to my NES."
The Guardian's Georgina Turner: "'Oh, lovely!' I say to myself as I watch the jumping, having no actual idea what qualiies as lovely in the equestrian world."
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.
GOLD: TEAM GREAT BRITAIN -- After a slow start, British athletes are enjoying their greatest Olympics in more than a century, collecting 22 gold medals and 48 medals overall through yesterday's competition. Not since the 1908 Games in London have the Brits fared so well, and it has caused the social media outlets of Team GB athletes to explode in recent days, gaining more than 1 million followers combined on Facebook and Twitter.
SILVER: PUMA -- The athletic footwear and apparel brand pales in comparison to Nike and adidas in terms of sales and marketing, but it certainly stands tall during the Olympics thanks to its sponsorship of the Jamaican track team. Puma's apparel, and its prevalent logo, have gotten immeasurable attention as the likes of Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and so many other Jamaicans have dominated the shorter distances in London.
BRONZE: LIU XIANG -- In one of the more painful stories of the Games, Liu Xiang once again failed to fulfill his promise as the greatest track star China has ever produced. In '08, he injured his Achilles tendon and struggled out of the blocks. In London, he apparently suffered the same injury, causing him to clip his first hurdle of the Games and tumble to the track. The '04 Olympic champion has gone home empty-handed twice now. Sadly, as Bolt has soared, Xiang has collapsed.
TIN: LONDON VELOPARK -- The building itself is very cool, with an exterior made of wood that bends outward and an interior that looks like a salad platter. And it certainly has been electrified with Team GB celebrations this week. But, to quote London 2012 organizers, the venue is made of a "100 percent naturally ventilated system that eliminates the need for air conditioning." Sure, if you like sitting in a bamboo steamer -- which, come to think of it, is how the place looks and feels.
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: