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SBD/August 10, 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 Golden Boy and CBS planning to continue a fall showcase for U.S. boxers, American athletes seeing their Twitter followers skyrocket and Universal Sports' new ad launched in an effort to keep viewers in tune with Olympic sports.
NBC is averaging an 18.3 final rating and 32.6 million viewers through 13 nights of taped primetime London Olympics coverage, up 8% and 12%, respectively, from a 16.9 rating and 32.6 million viewers during the same period for the '08 Beijing Games. Wednesday night’s coverage finished with a 16.8 rating and 29.1 million viewers, marking the most-viewed second Wednesday for any Summer Games since the '76 Montreal Games. The telecast, which featured Gold Medal victories for U.S. beach volleyball players Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, U.S. sprinter Allyson Felix in the 200 meters and U.S. hurdler Aries Merritt in the 110 meters, is also up 11% and 17%, respectively, from the same night in Beijing (NBC).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.220.127.116.114.917.9 Night 9Sat.15.917.613.613.319.4 Night 10Sun.17.516.015.816.023.4 Night 11Mon.15.815.816.415.826.4 Night 12Tues.17.616.315.712.421.3 Night 13Wed.16.815.215.313.919.813-Night Avg.18.316.915.814.522.5
THURSDAY NIGHT: NBC earned a 15.3 overnight rating for primetime London Olympic coverage Thursday night, which featured Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt becoming the first Olympian ever to win two consecutive Gold Medals in the men’s 200 meters. While overnight figures are subject to change when final numbers are released later Friday, that figure is down 7% from a 16.4 overnight for the same night in Beijing. Thursday night’s telecast also faced competition from five NFL preseason games. Denver, which has ranked fourth among all U.S. markets for Olympics coverage, ranked near the bottom of markets for Thursday night’s NBC Olympic primetime telecast, as many viewers tuned in for QB Peyton Manning’s debut for the Broncos in a game against the Bears (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).KICKSTART MY HEART: The rating for NBC Sports Net's broadcast of the U.S.-Japan Gold Medal women's soccer match will not be available until Friday afternoon, and USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes whatever the rating is, NBC's "scheduling probably didn't help." NBCSN is in about 80 million HHs, compared to about 114 million HHs for NBC, and the broadcast network in the same time slot as the soccer game "aired women's water polo and men's beach volleyball." It was "part of NBC's strategy to use NBCSN ... to carry Olympic coverage of traditional team sports such as soccer and basketball." But NBC "should have played it up more." The net "sometimes sticks to its Olympic scripts too much," but it "could have dropped in more women's soccer highlights and features during prime time to set up Thursday's flag-waving finish" (USA TODAY, 8/10). In N.Y., George Vecsey writes the game "got first-class treatment this time, with NBC showing every shot, every save, every discreet shove, on NBCSN." Announcers Arlo White and Brandi Chastain were "up to providing knowing commentary, with frequent references to Japan’s gallant victory" over the U.S. in the final game of the '11 FIFA Women's World Cup. U.S. Olympic coverage is "often accused of jingoism during the Games," but the soccer coverage in particular treated Japan and Canada during the semifinal match Monday "with the respect they deserved" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/10).
OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME: Warriors announcer Bob Fitzgerald is calling the Olympic basketball tournament on NBCSN, and he said, “I have been in the NBA for almost 20 years. But to get this opportunity? Other than doing the NBA Finals, I don’t think there is a higher or better situation if you’re a basketball play-by-play guy. It’s really, really been a dream come true.” SPORTING NEWS’ Sean Deveney wrote as part of NBC’s “push to provide coverage of all Olympic events, Fitzgerald has called men’s and women’s games for Team USA and has called one additional game each day.” Fitzgerald said, “From a basketball standpoint, to do a United States game and then do another tournament game and see all these other countries ... it’s been incredible.” He added, “Twenty games in 10 days? Yeah, that’s a lot. But it is the Olympics” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/9).
TRYING SOMETHING NEW: In Boston, Chad Finn writes Celtics announcer Mike Gorman is calling NBC's handball coverage from N.Y., and the game has “similar to basketball, but it isn’t basketball, and that’s in part why calling it was intriguing to Gorman.” He said, “NBC originally approached me and asked if I was interested in doing basketball from New York. At this stage of my career, I’m more a Celtic guy than a basketball guy. I just love doing the Boston Celtics. More basketball games of teams I don’t know is not exactly what I’m looking for in the summertime. When they called me and asked if I’d be interested in doing basketball, I said, ‘Do you have anything else?’” He added of handball, “I looked at that and said, ‘This is a crazy sport. I’d love to do this.’ So the first team handball game I ever saw that was unfinished was the first one I broadcast” (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/10).
BEACH BLANKET BINGO: Paul Sunderland, who is calling NBC's coverage of the men’s and women’s indoor volleyball tournament, said that he “understands from a programming standpoint" why beach volleyball has "taken more of the sport’s spotlight, not just on NBC but in TV coverage worldwide.” Sunderland said, “It's really a matter of how much volleyball can you put on during an Olympics, and the beach game does drop-dead great ratings. ... If I'm making a decision on what to put more energy into from a TV standpoint, the beach is better, simple as that.” He added, "The beach game fits nicely into a 30-to-40 minute window, it has real sex appeal, and you get caught up with it in prime time" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 8/10).
SURPRISINGLY GOOD: The N.Y. TIMES' Vecsey writes the London Games are the first Summer Olympics he has watched on television instead of covering on site, and “somewhat to my surprise, I have found the televised Olympics, for all their flaws, to be fine summer entertainment, particularly if one reclines on the sofa and lets NBC do what it does best.” The criticism of NBC “used to boggle me because I knew Dick Ebersol, the longtime chief of sports at NBC, to be one of the most knowledgeable executives in sports.” These are the “first Games since Ebersol resigned, but I can’t tell if the network has lost its sense of mission.” Vecsey: “I have no interest in watching NBC prime-time celebrities frolicking in London, but I have been reassured by the reliable presence of icons like Bob Costas, Al Michaels, the mellowing John McEnroe and the mellifluous Mary Carillo, who did a James Bond feature, out of nowhere, just fun on a summer evening.” Vecsey: "Blessedly, print journalism still complements the events racing across the screen” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/10).
SURVEY SAYS: A study from Pew Research Center for People & the Press found that 73% of Americans "said they had watched at least some of the Olympics on television.” Pew also found that 17% of respondents "had watched some of the coverage online, and 12 percent were following the results through social networks like Facebook and Twitter." Three-quarters of those polled by Pew “rated NBC's coverage as good or excellent.” Pew researchers “interviewed 1,005 adults randomly selected by phone Aug. 2-5” (AP, 8/9).
ROOT, ROOT, ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM: In London, Ben Webster noted BBC General Dir Mark Thompson has ordered channel controllers "to remember that other countries are competing in the Olympics as well as Team GB, and not to focus too heavily on British successes.” Thompson delivered the instruction Thursday “in his daily morning conference call with senior staff.” It “angered some BBC staff, who interpreted it as criticising coverage of the Olympics for being too patriotic." However, Thompson "swiftly reassured them that this had not been his intention” (LONDON TIMES, 8/10). Also in London, Hannah Furness notes the instructions come “after overseas publications have raised questions over the BBC’s impartiality.” Thompson “moved to reassure” his staff that he had “not intended to criticise their coverage, with a BBC spokesman confirming it did not herald a change in policy.” Thompson in a statement said, “The BBC has been right to focus on sporting achievements which the whole country has been celebrating and we will continue to do so with pride. We can do that while at the same time making sure that our news programmes fully reflect some of the other great sporting achievements and human stories of the London Games” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/10).
MOST POPULAR: The GUARDIAN’s Jason Deans notes the men’s 200 meters semifinals featuring Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt “proved the most popular Olympics event for BBC viewers on Wednesday, attracting just under 11 million viewers -- nearly half the available TV audience.” Live coverage of Wednesday night’s three men’s 200-meters semi-finals “averaged 10.6 million viewers over 25 minutes from 8:10pm on BBC1, with another 373,000 watching the simulcast on BBC Olympics 1.” The combined audience share “for the two channels was 48.4% over this period” (GUARDIAN, 8/10).
THIS IS "TODAY": Friday’s episode of NBC’s “Today” is the last one that will take place in London, and the show hosts arrived to the set in a double-decker bus with 60-plus members of Team USA. As the athletes filed out of the bus, co-host SAVANNAH GUTHRIE said, “It’s like a clown car of U.S. athletes and medal winners.” The opening hour featured a highlights package of Thursday’s Olympic action and a check of the medal count, followed by a live interviews with members of the women’s soccer team, members of the Gold Medal-winning women’s water polo team, decathletes ASHTON EATON and TREY HARDEE, triple jumpers CHRISTIAN TAYLOR and WILL CLAYE and swimmer RYAN LOCHTE. LOCOG Chair SEBASTIAN COE discussed the success of the Games in a taped piece. The second 60-minutes led with a live interview with Gold Medal-winning figure skater EVAN LYSACEK, who announced he is returning to competition, as well as a live interview with U.S. G HOPE SOLO. The co-hosts also discussed their favorite moments from the Games. The third hour included live interviews with Gold Medal-winning women’s boxer CLARESSA SHIELDS and Olympic photographer NEIL LEIFER. Swimmer NATALIE COUGHLIN closed the show participating in a live cooking demonstration (THE DAILY).
The U.S.-Japan Gold Medal women's soccer match Thursday drew 80,203 fans to Wembley Stadium, a record for a women's game at the Olympics, and "never had women put on such a show at this world-famous venue," according to Michelle Kaufman of the MIAMI HERALD. The previous record for an Olympic women's soccer game was set at the '96 Atlanta Games, "where 76,489 watched the final" between the U.S. and China. U.S. MF Carli Lloyd said, "Eighty-thousand people for a women's final? That says a lot for women's soccer. The whole thing is a dream come true" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/10). The AP's Joseph White noted the teams "put on a back-and-forth, don't-turn-your-head" showcase. Women's soccer is "still in its formative stages in Britain, but the match proved more than worthy for the hallowed grounds of the beautiful game." President Barack Obama during a campaign speech in Colorado acknowledged a second-half lead by the U.S. and said, "The women are doing pretty good right now in soccer" (AP, 8/9). In a special to the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Ann Killion writes the U.S. women's soccer team "earned the respect" of Great Britain. U.S. F Abby Wambach: "We need to have these moments, these promoted moments when the light shines so bright on our sport that it's noticed by not only our fans but non-fans. We want clubs around Europe to think, 'You know what, we had a lot of people at Old Trafford and at Wembley.' I hope some of the owners of these big clubs take notice and start putting money into women's programs" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/10). In San Jose, Mark Purdy writes the scene for yesterday's game "was epic." Wembley "is the capital of British soccer," but the "female version of the game is, if not demeaned, definitely not celebrated." The announced crowd of 80,203 "was considered a major statement" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/10). U.S. MF Megan Rapinoe said the atmosphere at Wembley Stadium was “just so electric" having 80,000 people at the game and feeling like "every one of them is down on top of you" ("Today," NBC, 8/10).
CROWING ACHIEVEMENT: In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz writes a third straight Gold Medal for U.S. women's soccer is "an amazing feat when you consider that soccer largely doesn't resonate in our country except when the World Cup or Olympics come around" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/10). In DC, Sally Jenkins writes the U.S. women's soccer team "has taken its place as one of the greats." Wambach said, "At the end of the day we wanted to make sure people were talking about us for what we were doing on the field" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/10). In Memphis, Geoff Calkins writes, "They have their medals. They have these moments. They have their legacy, which is now secure" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 8/10).
LEG WORK: In Chicago, Danny Ecker noted the Chicago-based U.S. Soccer Federation "has been busy contributing to the hype, especially online." The USSF "cast a wide net on social media platforms in hopes of tapping into the 'social games' frenzy that has consumed Olympic coverage." Its Facebook app, "with more than 852,000 'likes,' is the centerpiece, rich with content showing players' off-the-field lives, including short video bios where the players discuss themselves and team dynamics, such as who is the biggest prankster (Heather Mitts), who is going to medical school after their soccer career (Rachel Buehler) and whose nickname is 'Baby Horse' (Alex Morgan)." Photo-sharing through Pinterest and the team's Twitter handle "lets die-hard fans interact with players, while introducing the team to those new to the bandwagon." Also, "tying it all together" is the USSF's promotional campaign, "Go For Gold," created by Stone Ward, Chicago (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 8/9).
LATEST EXAMPLE OF THE FEMALE GAMES: CBS’ Bob Schieffer reported the London Games “have put women on equal footing atop the medal stand.” CBS’ Mark Phillips said, “These have become the women’s emancipation Games. It’s the first time every country has women on its team.” Phillips said “including women athletes, especially from Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Qatar for the first time was the result of a new sport: Olympic sports arm-twisting. Saudi resistance was only broken-down when the IOC threatened to ban its entire team unless the women were included” (“Evening News,” CBS, 8/9). ABC’s George Stephanopoulos said the London Games, "more than ever before, have been defined by the golden girls.” ABC’s Bill Weir said these Games “will be defined by the fairer athletes” (“World News,” ABC, 8/9). NBC’s Chris Jansing said, “This is the year of the woman” (“Nightly News,” NBC, 8/9).
The U.S. women’s soccer team following their Gold Medal win over Japan Thursday put on Nike T-shirts that were “roundly panned on Twitter, from critics both foreign and domestic,” according to Chris Chase of YAHOO SPORTS. The shirts contained a "smug, tacky slogan reading ‘Greatness Has Been Found,’” a follow-up to Nike's "Find Your Greatness" ad campaign. Members of the team “were handed the shirts immediately after their win,” a common scene “after big victories in American team sports.” However, Chase wrote, “If it’s ever happened at an Olympics, I can’t remember. … And the whole thing feels completely out of place.” No one is “blaming the women on the team” because they were “handed the shirts and put them on, as expected.” Chase wrote, “I don't blame Nike either: Every 13-year-old girl who's ever picked up a soccer ball is begging for one right now. The people at fault are the go-betweens for Nike and Team USA. They should have realized the way those shirts could have been perceived.” If people who were rooting for the women’s soccer team found them “off-putting, imagine the reaction of the rest of the world” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/9).
RUNNING UP THAT HILL: In DC, Janice D’Arcy wrote a top contender for “most memorable ad” so far during the Olympics comes from Nike, which depicts “a lone runner approaching the camera from a distance.” As the runner comes into focus, the voiceover says that greatness “is not some precious thing. ... We’re all capable of it. All of us.” With that, the runner “is upon us, an overweight boy, sweating profusely, running through his exhaustion.” The star of the ad, which is part of the “Find Your Greatness” campaign, is 12-year-old Nathan Sorrell from London, Ohio. D’Arcy noted the experience “did convince Nathan to try to lose weight.” Sorrell said that if he does, Nike “has pledged to return to film him.” Nike said that it “would reinforce the ‘greatness’ message” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/8).
SHINE SO BRIGHT: NBCPHILADELPHIA.com’s Catherine Blair Pfander noted several Nike endorsers, including U.S. sprinters Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross and decathletes Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee, are wearing "fluorescent footwear” that is a "neon shade of green being seared into your retinas." The "Volt" color is “quite literally the most brilliant, if somewhat unsubtle, nugget of branding to emerge at the Summer Games.” Nike, which is a USOC sponsor, has “plenty of experience when it comes to making splashy statements on the field.” Nike North America Media Relations Manager KeJuan Wilkins said, “It was something we did during the World Cup two years ago in South Africa, with an orange soccer boot” (NBCPHILADELPHIA.com, 8/8). However, the NATIONAL POST’s Guy Spurrier noted Nike’s marketing efforts "could not overcome the fact that its shoes were on the feet of the wrong men” during the men's 100 meters -- the first four finishers were Usain Bolt (Puma) Yohan Blake (adidas) Justin Gatlin (Xteps) and Tyson Gay (adidas) (NATIONALPOST.com, 8/8).
Gold Medal-winning Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt declared himself a “legend” after he completed an unprecedented sprint sweep, becoming the first athlete to win the 100 and 200 meters at consecutive Olympics. Bolt: “I'm a legend now." But IOC President Jacques Rogge thinks that may be premature, saying, "Let Usain Bolt be free of injury. Let him keep his motivation, which I think will be the case. ... Let him participate in three, four games, and he can be a legend. Already, he's an icon” (Mult., 8/9). However, YAHOO SPORTS' Pat Forde wrote Bolt's “run as the most popular foreign athlete in the United States -- maybe ever, or at least in the argument -- might have ended abruptly Thursday night” after he criticized former nine-time U.S. Gold Medal-winner Carl Lewis. Following his victory in the 200 meters, Bolt said, “Carl Lewis, I have no respect for him. The things he says about the track athletes are very downgrading.” When asked what caused him to lose respect for Lewis, Bolt said, “All drug stuff.” Forde wrote until that point, Bolt had “achieved something even more remarkable than turning the Olympic Stadium track into his own personal drag strip.” Bolt “managed to be the most toweringly arrogant, endlessly cocky, thoroughly likeable guy in sports.” Until going after Lewis, Bolt had “shown the world that it's possible to be the world's fastest man, have the world's biggest ego and still be the world's most enjoyable athlete.” Forde: “There went the American vote, Usain. Hope the endorsement deals in Jamaica and Europe stay strong” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/9). SI.com’s Tim Layden wrote Bolt’s “celebration turned ugly,” giving an “unseemly end to a historic night” (SI.com, 8/9). FOXSPORTS.com’s Greg Couch wrote, “Bolt’s little outburst against Lewis won’t do any damage to Bolt’s lovable image. No one really liked Lewis anyway.” But it is “hard to know whether we can believe in super-greatness anymore, especially in track and field, where doping has all but ruined the sport’s image” (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/9).
I AM LEGEND: In N.Y., Christopher Clarey writes track and field should “consider kissing him back, because he has given the sport the global figure that it sorely needed in 2008 in a Darwinian entertainment landscape.” Bolt said, “After this Olympics, I’m a legend now. I don’t know what I really want to do, if I’m still going to run the 100 or 200 or try something else” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/10). ESPN.com's Jim Caple wrote, “Like Muhammad Ali did, Bolt craves and swallows the spotlight. He is so entertaining, so cocky and so funny, it's as if no one else is on the track.” Bolt said, “If I don't see this on the TV or in the papers, I won't do any more interviews. I want to tell my friends to follow me on Twitter @usainbolt.com” (ESPN.com, 8/9). In Phoenix, Dan Bickley writes, "Normally, we scoff at athletes who choose showboating over humility and maximum effort. But not Bolt. He is so entertaining and likeable, such displays only add to his charm" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/10). In Miami, Linda Robertson wrote, “Showman, yes. Prima donna, no.” Bolt’s agent Ricky Sims said, “Whether he is in front of one person or 60,000, he is the same. He really, genuinely is.” Robertson adds Bolt’s upbringing “imbued him with empathy -- his ability to connect with people” (MIAMI HERALD, 8/10). Twitter indicated that Bolt “set a new Olympics Games conversation mark with more than 80,000 tweets per minute during his history-making run.” FOXSPORTS.com’s Todd Behrendt notes the combination of Bolt’s “popularity and his unprecedented on-track accomplishments make him natural fodder for social media” (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/10).
MORE DESERVING OF ATTENTION? In Newark, Steve Politi notes thousands of people "lined up for 16 hours to get inside the Olympic Stadium, and judging by the empty seats after the Jamaicans swept the medals in the 200, they weren’t waiting for Ashton Eaton to hold off fellow American Trey Hardee for decathlon gold.” Politi: “They wanted to see Bolt. So did NBC, which has essentially granted him American citizenship during its broadcasts.” Eaton is "one of the best decathletes ever,” but he also has the “distinction of being born at the wrong time, competing in the wrong sport, and doing it in the wrong era” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8,10). In N.Y., Filip Bondy notes Bolt is “practically the only thing anybody cares about anymore in track, and that’s a shame, no matter how gloriously he glitters.” Eaton’s skills “embody the stated aims of these Olympics -- faster, higher, stronger.” Bondy: “Much of this was lost on the fans at the Olympic Stadium, and likely on the viewers back home. Americans have become spoiled rotten again at these Olympics.” After Bolt’s performance, Eaton’s accomplishments “were eclipsed, nothing new for a modern decathlete.” What Eaton accomplished is “worth celebrating, admiring, putting on the front of another iconic Wheaties box” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/10). In L.A., Philip Hersh writes under the header, “Usain Bolt, Ashton Eaton Provide Separate Scales For Greatness” (L.A. TIMES, 8/10).
The NBA's interest in “pursuing an age ceiling for Olympic basketball is ‘unlikely' to be instituted in time" for the '16 Rio de Janeiro Games,” according to a source cited by Ian Thomsen of SI.com. NBA Commissioner David Stern has “publicly floated the idea of establishing a maximum age for men's basketball players of all countries at future Olympics that would mirror the rules of soccer, which requires that players in the Olympic tournament be no older than 23, with three exceptions allowed per roster.” That plan would allow NBA owners "to participate in and eventually profit from the rebranded FIBA World Cup, which -- similar to the soccer World Cup -- would have no limits on age, making it the preeminent international basketball event every four years.” It had been “assumed that the new rule would take effect in 2016, which would have made these Olympics the last to feature teams led by the biggest NBA stars.” But the source stressed that “quick action on an age limitation is highly unrealistic for FIBA.” Passage of the new rule “will require the ratification of 213 national basketball federations around the world,” and the involvement of the IOC “will further complicate the talks.” Though the new strategy will “require patient and methodical negotiations,” the source said that the NBA has “shown no sign of backing away from its ultimate goal of investing in the World Cup” (SI.com, 8/9). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said the NBA “has to make good with FIBA" on the under-23 proposal because FIBA "has got to convince the other teams of the world that this is a good thing." Wilbon: "David Stern may not be able to do that, not by himself” (“PTI,” ESPN, 8/8).
RETURN TO INNOCENCE WANTED: A USA TODAY editorial states the U.S. men’s basketball team “is on track to win its fifth gold medal in the past six Olympics,” and the women’s team is “closing in on its fifth consecutive gold.” The editorial: “Good for them, and America, but something is missing.” The U.S. “Dream Teams” were compared to the former Soviet Union men’s hockey teams. The editorial: “If they win, it’s expected. Ho hum. And if they lose, it’s a huge blow to national pride. Sure, today’s system is a lot more equitable. It’s just not more exciting” (USA TODAY, 8/10).
KING FOR MORE THAN A DAY: USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt reports U.S. F LeBron James’ “transformation from NBA public enemy to celebrated star is moving at high speed.” The transition has been “multifaceted," and he has the opportunity during the Olympics to "expand his brand internationally and capitalize on his popularity." He has “undergone a significant image change" since The Decision two years ago, a "rehabilitation that has the chance to make a significant impact for James and others.” Forbes listed James’ income from sponsorships at $40M from June '11- June '12 "in endorsements from companies such as Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and State Farm, among others.” Sports Business Group President David Carter said, “He’s already at the top of the charts for endorsements, but if he builds his brand for the long term, he could make a killing.” Zillgitt notes James has a “team of business associates working on deals.” He will “shoot TV commercials for partners shortly after he returns to the U.S., in time for the start of the NBA season" (USA TODAY, 8/10).
MAMBA NO. 5: USA TODAY’s Zillgitt Thursday noted the title of the “world’s most popular NBA player” goes to U.S. G Kobe Bryant. The five-time NBA champ drew "more attention from international journalists than any other U.S. player” during the team’s introductory news conference in London, and it is clear during Team USA introductions at games that Bryant “receives the loudest ovation.” Bryant’s jersey for the sixth straight year was the “top seller in China, and when the NBA released its first list of top-selling international jerseys in June, Bryant’s name was atop that list, too.” Bryant said, “In Asia, everything came to a head at the last Olympics (2008 in Beijing). In Europe last summer, we did a nice tour with Nike. The response was more than what we expected. At those two points, that’s when we realized how big it is” (USA TODAY, 8/9).
SHOUT OUT TO THE LADIES? The GUARDIAN's, Anna Hiatt wrote the U.S. women's basketball squad “isn't just good; they're great.” Since winning bronze in ‘92, the U.S. women have “won 40 consecutive Olympic matches and, as a result, four consecutive gold medals.” They came to London “searching for their fifth.” The U.S. women's basketball team is “one of the most historically dominant teams in Olympic history.” But Hiatt wrote, “Where are the ESPN and Sports Illustrated covers dedicated to them? Or the NBA-style media blitz? It shouldn't still be a struggle for a team that should be the crown jewel of the US to draw an American audience” (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 8/9).
As the Olympics enter its final weekend of competition, the U.S. “leads China 90-80 in the overall medal race,” but the Gold Medal “duel is too close to call,” with the U.S. holding 39 Golds through Thursday compared to China's 37, according to a cover story by Kelly Whiteside of USA TODAY. With “63 events remaining -- 15 of those in track and field, a sport in which the USA excels -- the medal title is again within reach.” China “traditionally dominates diving, table tennis and badminton -- sports that had mostly wrapped up before the final weekend.” In the Games' final days, the U.S. “likely will continue to pile up medals in track and field and basketball.” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun in an e-mail said, "The Olympic Games is a competition between athletes, not nations" (USA TODAY, 8/10).
A TALE OF TWO PUNCHES: In London, Kevin Rawlinson notes IOC President Jacques Rogge Thursday attended the finals of women’s boxing, which made its debut in the Olympics this year. Rogge said, “It was fantastic. I’m a very happy man. There has been some criticism of whether women should be boxing and of their level and technique. Today we have been vindicated. That was a good decision. It’s only the beginning" (London TELEGRAPH, 8/10). Meanwhile, the AP’s Greg Beacham noted Int'l Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) President Wu Ching-Kuo “expects to replace the sport's computerized scoring system with the traditional professional judging system before the 2016 Rio Olympics.” Ching-Kuo said that it is “all part of his plan for Olympic boxing to look more like the pro game.” The AIBA intends to “move to the pros' 10-point scoring system, which takes into account every aspect of fighters' skills, not solely their ability to land clean punches.” The eventual move “will trigger a fundamental shift in an amateur sport that has withered in the U.S. and other countries where pro boxing dominates.” Olympic boxers will “no longer be able to train merely to master the quirks of the computerized system, which records a point when a majority of ringside judges push a button indicating a fighter connected with a punch” (AP, 8/9).
OUT OF PLACE? In N.Y., David Segal notes BMX is making its second Olympic appearance this year, and the sport is the Games' "stab at the highly coveted youth market.” However, hipness is “not easy to fake, and there is something a little awkward about the Olympics’ attempt to drag teen cool onto the premises.” BMX at the Olympics “lacks some of the basic elements that make a sport exciting,” like lead changes. Much of the suspense “comes down to wrecks -- who will wreck and how badly." Given the “carnage on display Thursday, it is safe to assume that whoever designed the BMX racetrack really dislikes BMX racers.” Segal: “Or has no regard for their safety. Or kind of enjoys watching them crash.” The “worst of these wrecks occurred in the first run of the third heat, in the men’s quarterfinals, when seven of the eight riders were suddenly splayed on the tarmac” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/10).
GIVE HIM A HAND: Celtics annoncer Mike Gorman is calling handball matches for NBC during the Games, and he said, "I’m trying to investigate now that I’m more into it why it hasn’t caught on in the United States." Gorman: "One of the problems that I’m hearing is that it is an infrastructure issue. ... But you’d think it would catch on, and NBC is aware of what a hit it has been during the Olympics.” Gorman added he “may have to lobby” Celtics Managing Partners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca to “buy a team and have it play” at TD Garden (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/10). Meanwhile, TEAM HANDBALL NEWS' John Ryan wrote NPR’s Stefan Fatsis for several years "has proudly worn the mantle as Team Handball’s #1 mainstream media proponent and fan," but ESPN's Scott Van Pelt is "coming on strong and aided by the nationwide blowtorch that is ESPN Radio." Van Pelt has continually tried to talk up the Olympic handball tournament during his daily radio show, and he is now "even sporting USA Team Handball gear" (TEAMHANDBALLNEWS.com, 8/10).
The USOC has sold so much merchandise at its retail outlet in London it cannot keep the store stocked. In order to keep up with demand, it has called in five replacement orders since the Games began. The organization exceeded its total sales from the '08 Beijing Games in the first 10 days the store was open, and exceeded sales from Vancouver in '10 in even less time. The store is located in the front of USA House and covers two stories. The upstairs features apparel from its top three suppliers -- Ralph Lauren, Nike and Oakley -- while the downstairs features apparel from Outerstuff brand, mugs, pendants and other items. The store was designed with help from Nike, Ralph Lauren and Polo, which gives it the same feel as a department store, with branded areas for each company’s products. The brands also provided store specialists to assist shoppers and manage merchandise. USOC Managing Dir of Consumer Products Peter Zeytoonjiansaid the brand’s assistance in creating a good retail environment, the diversity of apparel, the USOC’s new logo and the number of London-based expatriates visiting the store all combined to deliver strong sales the last two weeks. “Everything has done fantastically well,” Zeytoonjian said. The USOC also is selling the apparel in the U.S. at Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Polo Ralph Lauren stores. Its goal is to hit $100M in retail sales around the Games. The USOC would not release current sales figures, but on Thursday said merchandise sales have more than doubled those from Beijing. The USOC and its licensees already are making preparations for the '14 Sochi Games. Nike and Ralph Lauren are close to finalizing their product lines and will finish that process in September. Zeytoonjian said he expects sales for Sochi to be bigger than Vancouver.
IOC TOP sponsor Procter & Gamble "will be raising" an extra $20M for its global youth sports program as part of its "Thank You Mom" activity, according to Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith of BRAND REPUBLIC. The company intends to raise the money "over the next 10 years as part of its partnership with the IOC, to give children the opportunity to practise sports by supplying facilities and training across the globe." The money will add to the $5M "already raised since January for the same cause." P&G Global Brand Building Officer Marc Pritchard said, "This announcement means extending our plans until the end of our 10-year IOC partnership, working with NOCs from around the world to increase the opportunity for more children to experience sporting and Olympic values" (BRANDREPUBLIC.com, 8/10).
RETHINK POSSIBLE: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Emily Steel writes advertisers have "tried to make the most of their Olympic tie-ins by deploying the latest technologies and storytelling techniques," and much of this effort "has been driven by the power of social media." Because so much online conversation "relates to events happening in real time, the companies have been forced to speed up turnround times and almost act like the news media to incorporate events of the day into their campaigns." AT&T negotiated with NBC to have five ads that "would include actual footage and most of those were processed in a 24-hour period." In a spot featuring Gold Medal-winning U.S. swimmer Rebecca Soni, AT&T "negotiated to execute a same-day turnround." Soni won the women's 200-meter breaststroke at about 4:00pm ET on Aug. 2, and NBC "quickly alerted AT&T that it planned to televise the race" at 9:30pm ET. AT&T "had pre-produced the bulk of the spot, but the time delay gave the marketer about five hours to tweak the commercial" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/10).
CHARTING UPWARD: The social media response to TV ads during the London Games was tracked by Cambridge, Mass.-based Bluefin Labs. Below is a chart showing which brands' spots "get Olympics viewers talking" (ADAGE.com, 8/9).LONDON 2012 ADVERTISERS:
TOP 10 BUZZ GAINERS DURING FIRST 10 DAYS OF GAMESRK
BRAND% CHANGE IN SOCIAL MEDIA COMMENTSEARNED IMPRESSIONS1 Budweiser1,453%148,3832 Visa1,380%465,1283 Procter & Gamble640%478,5794 Head & Shoulders555%141,4665 Nike415%805,9556 Bounty296%266,9037 BMW226%165,1948 Coca-Cola167%357,7139 AT&T146%849,13510 McDonald's109%1,003,589
U.S. athlete Ashton Eaton won the Gold Medal in the decathlon Thursday, but the event has seen its “glory days faded,” which could impact Eaton’s post-Games marketing efforts, according to Greg Bishop of the N.Y. TIMES. When asked if he “expected millions in endorsements, he made a halfhearted fist pump and offered a meek ‘yeah,’ meaning, well, probably not.” Bishop notes Bryan Clay won the decathlon Gold at the ’08 Beijing Games, but Nike “later dropped him” from his endorsement deal. Bishop: “Gone were the ‘Dan and Dave’ advertising campaigns, even for gold medalists, the event’s long schedule not suitable for television, the point system difficult to explain and impossible for the average viewer to understand” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/10).
LESS OF LOLO? Premier Management Group President & CEO Evan Morgenstein said that he expects U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones’ marketing team to “’pull her back’ from media appearances in the immediate future.” Morgenstein, who does not rep Jones, said, “It’s not playing well on television, it's creating more heat. What they will probably do is pull her back from doing a lot of media and be very, very aware of what she’s Tweeting and immediately evaluate her opportunities.” However, Morgenstein sees Jones as a “top-10 potential ‘money earner’ coming out of the Olympics.” He said, “Very few athletes, male or female, in the lexicon of sports have ever been known by one name -- Pele, Beckham, Kobe. You say the name ‘Lolo’ and you know who she is” (FOXNEWS.com, 8/9).
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: FOXSPORTS.com’s Bill Reiter writes U.S. Gold Medal-winning gymnast Gabby Douglas is “winning and funny and authentic, both in her childlike sweetness and in the adult now emerging with a directness and mature way of handling all these things” (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/10).
Kenya Prime Minister RAILA ODINGA said that the country plans to make a bid "to become the first African nation to host the Olympic Games in 2024." Odinga said that the “region’s trillion-dollar economy was set to boom over the next decade," and for Kenya, east Africa’s “leading economy, hosting the Olympics would bring a psychological boost as well as ‘enormous benefits’ in terms of investment in infrastructure” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/10). Meanwhile, Brazilian fans have praised London "for its superb hosting of the Olympics and say they will continue this when the Games go to Rio in 2016.” In “generous terms they called the Olympics ‘simply perfect’ and vowed to continue the party in similar fashion” (London INDEPENDENT, 8/10).
PRAISE FOR THE VOLUNTEERS: In London, Eva Simpson notes the “army of volunteers who alongside Britain’s sporting triumphs are now being widely hailed as the most successful part of London 2012.” While some have “criticised the dominance of privately educated competitors or tickets priced beyond the means of many, volunteering has been hailed as a showcase of the Games’ spirit of diversity and inclusivity.” There is “even talk of it being one the event’s biggest legacies.” But perhaps “more touching has been the role of the 70,000 Games Makers,” who have provided “warm welcomes, helpful directions and good humour to the millions of sports fans attending the Games.” Their enthusiasm “has been infectious” (LONDON TIMES, 8/10). The London INDEPENDENT writes the volunteers are the “unsung -- and unpaid -- heroes and heroines who will take home priceless memories” (London INDEPENDENT, 8/10).
ROYAL PARDON: In London, Tim Walker writes PRINCE WILLIAM has been “one of Team GB’s most regular supporters,” but he will not be able to “attend the closing ceremony on Sunday.” Prince William has “been on leave from his post as a search-and-rescue pilot for the RAF during the Games.” His wife, KATE MIDDLETON, will “attend the closing ceremony with her brother-in-law and fellow Olympic ambassador, PRINCE HARRY” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/10).
FASHION FRIENDLY: In a special to the TORONTO STAR, D’Arcy Doran writes in addition to the “biggest medal haul in more than a century, Team GB’s other success is their uniforms,” designed for adidas by STELLA MCCARTNEY. The uniforms “reworked the Union Jack for the 21st century while raising the bar for Olympic style.” The uniform’s “popularity seems to grow” (TORONTO STAR, 8/10).
MOVIE REVIEW: In L.A., Gary Goldstein writes “FRANK & CHIP: THE OLYMPIC EXPERIENCE” is a “flat documentary” which details Olympic history “from 1928 through the 1940s vis-á-vis New Jersey gymnasts FRANK and IRMA (nickname: CHIP) HAUBOLD, the first married couple to compete in the Games together.” Although most of Frank and Chip's story “takes place against that landmark era from the Great Depression to World War II, there's a lack of propulsive drama to the couple's tale” (L.A. TIMES, 8/10).
Entering the final games of the London Games, Twitter is buzzing with praise and commentary around the impact of women in the Olympics, including Thursday's Gold-Medal winning performance by the U.S. women's soccer team. President Barack Obama wrote, "Congrats to the U.S. women’s soccer team for a third straight Olympic gold. So proud. –bo." USOC Chief Communications Officer Patrick Sandusky posted, “How about this stat. If the #TeamUSA women were their own nation they would be third in gold medal count. One ahead of #TeamGB #girlpower.” Velo magazine's Neal Rogers tweeted, "Will this be remembered as Olympics when women's sports outshone men's? Women's cycling, soccer, boxing all more interesting than men's." SI's Grant Wahl: "USWNT also gets $1.5 million bonus as team for winning Olympic gold, $25,000 per player from USOC. 10-game US victory tour awaits." Actor Samuel L. Jackson: "All of IRELAND Raise A Pint for Katie Taylor's Gold Medal Russian beatdown!!" Lightninig D Mike Commodore: "Proud of the Canadian Women's soccer team...shook of a heartbreaking loss in semi's and pulled it together for #bronze."
Other Olympic tweets of interest:
BBC Radio’s Gordon Farquhar: “Locog say there may be more tickets for closing ceremony released on the day, once the stage set and scenery is in. (Goes in night before.)”
MSNBC's Willie Geist: "Me to 17-year-old boxing gold medalist @ClaressaShields: 'How'd you choose boxing?'. Shields: 'I just enjoy beating people up.'"
The AP’s Steve Wilson: “Oops. Seb stumbles badly over name of Babe Didrickson.”
U.S. women’s field hockey player Michelle Kasold: “Best thing about waking up at 5am for our game.... Seeing all the other athletes just returning to the Village after a night out!! #funny.”
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: USAIN BOLT ... AGAIN -- For the second time in a week -- and second Summer Games in a row -- the Jamaican sprinter captivated the world by sweeping the sprint events in London. Bolt's personality and performances have helped NBC fight off Olympic fatigue during the Games' final week, and have even provided what is being called the "Bolt Boost" as searches for flights to Jamaica are up 51% this week, according to one tracker.
SILVER: USA TRACK & FIELD -- The organization has taken its lumps in recent years, both for its dysfunction and on-track results. But with two days left in London's track and field competition, the U.S. has already won more here medals than at any Olympics since the boycotted '84 L.A. Games, and there have been no embarrassing stumbles or displays along the way. There is still a lot of work to be done at home, but congratulations are certainly in order.
BRONZE: THOSE VENUES -- From the open and inviting Olympic Park, to the Olympic Stadium and archery at Lord's Cricket Ground, to beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade, virtually every venue on the London Olympic program has been spectacular. Save for a few missteps where form overshadowed function, London's venues have been among the most convenient and picturesque of any Olympics in recent memory.
TIN: UGLY AMERICANS -- Whether it is gymnastics coaches protesting scores, boxing analysts screaming that we have been robbed or accusations toward Chinese swimmers, we have seen too much whining and finger-pointing from U.S. athletes, coaches and even commentators. Every time somebody from another country beats an American, it does not necessarily mean that the judges blew it, we were robbed or -- whether stated subtly or outright -- that the other athlete was doping. It also does not necessarily mean that our athlete was better but just had a bad day. Sometimes we just get beat, and that's OK.
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 Friday's issue of SBD Global for the following stories you may have missed: