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February 12, 2014 09:21 AM
While NBC Sports Network did not set any new records on Monday, the network averaged 1.6 million viewers from 12-5 p.m. ET, marking the best audience for any U.S. cable network during that time period.
NBC Sports Net is averaging 1.6 million viewers for all Olympics coverage through Monday, up 60 percent compared to similar coverage during the 2012 London Games, which were the first Olympics carried on NBCSN.
CNBC also averaged 1.2 million viewers for coverage on Monday from 5-8 p.m., which marked an all-time Olympic record for the network. Coverage was highlighted by the Norway-U.S. men’s Curling match.
February 11, 2014 05:03 PM
Omega President Stephen Urquhart
COURTESY OF OMEGA
■ How would you grade the organization of the Sochi Games?
URQUHART: Preparation obviously was the biggest part because they had to prepare everything. They’ve done a great job to build this in seven years. Nothing existed here. I was here a year ago. It was all mud here. The stadium was built. I was there for the one-year countdown, but the hotel I’m staying in, the Radisson, there was nothing.
■ Were you concerned at all?
URQUHART: No. You have to believe in people. If they say the Games will be ready, then they will be ready. Which they are, 99 percent ready.
■ How does your hospitality program here compare to other Winter Games?
URQUHART: It’s on par with other Winter Olympics. Some markets aren’t interested as much. We have six waves. Toward the end, a lot of China and Japan will be coming. It will be more geared toward sport.
In London, we could make it more lifestyle. There’s lots to see in London. You can show a whole lot of stuff. Here there’s sports. That’s all there is, basically. We had to adapt a bit. It will be fine. Everyone is happy.
■ I read about contingency plans for advertising if there’s a terrorist attack. Is that something you’ve had to think about at all? Did you develop a back-up ad?
URQUHART: No. Honestly, no. What would we do? We never hesitated one minute to do it. We’re confident they’ll take all the precautions they wanted to and they have to. I feel for the moment (security is) not oppressive. It’s well done.
■ There’s been a lot of criticism of hotels. Is it fair or overblown?
URQUHART: We came here and did the groundwork. We got everything done. We’re very happy with the hotel we have. One of the staff hotels has a few problems, but they can be overcome.
People understand: It’s a brand-new venue. It’s not going to be perfect. One of the (opening ceremony) rings didn’t open up. That’s OK.
We have to be fair. Probably, they took on a lot. They were so ambitious. I don’t know what will happen afterward. There are all of these hotels that have to be filled up. But I can’t really talk for them.
■ You and I were in Beijing and there was a lot of concern that there was a lack of traffic in the Olympic Park. Do you think it will be a problem at all in the park around your showcase pavilion?
URQUHART: It’s hard to say. We do this mainly to host our events here. It’s nice to be visible. The more people, the better. But you’re right. Beijing, considering the size of that endeavor, the traffic wasn’t great.
■ What are you looking forward to most?
URQUHART: For it to end without any issues (laughing). I’ve never been a fan of speedskating, but the timekeeping we’re doing, to see it behind the scenes, was unbelievable. The (bobsled) obviously given our history with it is important. I love the bob. Some of the halfpipe and snowboard is fantastic. I definitely want to see one or two hockey matches. There are a lot of good sports.
February 11, 2014 04:36 PM
The U.S. Olympic Committee pays $25,000 to gold-medal winners, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze, but that pales in comparison to many other countries, and the American payouts have not changed in a decade, according to Yahoo Sports.
Kazakhstan offers $250,000 to any athlete who wins a gold medal in Sochi, the most of any of the 26 countries to earn a medal four years ago in Vancouver, according to Bloomberg. Other countries that offer rewards in the six figures include fellow ex-Soviet state Latvia, which offers $192,800 for gold, Italy at $189,800, Belarus at $150,000 and Estonia at $138,500. Athletes from these five countries won just two gold medals and 12 medals overall in Vancouver.
Host nation Russia also pays out handsomely at $113,200 for gold, as well as $70,800 for silver and $48,000 for bronze.
In addition to the U.S., other Winter Olympic powerhouses tend to offer lower bonuses than less-successful nations. Germany pays gold medalists $20,300 and Canada awards $17,900. Croatia, Norway, Sweden and Great Britain do not offer cash bonuses to medalists despite combining for 38 medals, including 15 gold, four years ago.
SOURCES: Bloomberg, Yahoo Sports
February 11, 2014 03:32 PM
SBJ's Tripp Mickle (left) and Burton's Nick Sargent
■ "The pipe really needs some cold weather for the ice crystals to connect. But the reality is they're doing all they can do to keep the pipe in rideable condition."
■ "It's a stocked women's house tomorrow night. … The conditions of the pipe are really going to dictate the riding level and what they're able to achieve.'
■ "The U.S. Open, our second year in Vail … on the heels of an Olympics, it's really just pandemonium. You get all the riders. We'll have an Olympic field at the Open, all coming to Vail, having a great time."
February 11, 2014 01:26 PM
Focus turned to the snowboarders at the Sochi Games on Tuesday, with several competitors bemoaning the course conditions. THE DAILY provides some of the on-air conversation about the halfpipe course from Tuesday morning:
NBC's Anne Thompson said designers of the halfpipe in Sochi "are catching a lot of grief because the riders say it is not up to Olympic quality." Thompson: "Overnight, organizers reworked the halfpipe ahead of today's event after the design and warm temperatures led some boarders to blast it as 'garbage' and 'lame.'" U.S. snowboarder Shaun White said, "I don’t want to bag on (the halfpipe) but it's very disappointing." Thompson: "Unlike the complaints last week over the slopestyle course that some riders labeled as 'dangerous,' the concern at the halfpipe is quality" ("Today," NBC, 2/11). NBC's Jack Doles said, "The man who built the course is blaming the conditions on the weather but also restrictions put on him by the IOC." Doles said U.S. snowboarder Nick Baumgartner told him "one of the problems we're having is these courses are built not by snowboarders but by builders who don't know exactly what these snowboarders are looking for" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 2/10). FS1's Andy Finch: "I don't know if they should be complaining compared to how conditions used to be. They used to hand-dig pipes, but the fact is the tricks have gotten very gnarly" ("Fox Sports Live," FS1, 2/10).
Meanwhile, CBS' Gayle King said the men's halfpipe is "one of several competitions fans will recognize from the Winter X Games." While there are no snowmobile competitions yet in the Olympic program, the Games "do seem to be getting more extreme." CBS' Mark Phillips said, "We all know these Games are different -- different in where they are, different in what they cost, different in how they're being protected. But the Games themselves are also changing. The reason? Two words: TV." Traditional Olympic events like downhill skiing are the "stuff dreams are made of" for die-hard fans, but for many other people, it is "time to see what's on the other channel." The IOC hopes events like slopestyle are the "solution." The X Games are "taking over the Games," as the new events were added "all in the hope of keeping young eyes from drifting away." U.S. snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg, who won gold in the Olympic debut of slopestyle on Saturday, said of the new disciplines, "It’s pretty cool they're in the Olympics because it's what everyone on the mountain is doing. The kids, they're getting into it ... and it's cool that the Olympics is showcasing it." Phillips noted adding new events is part of "desperate business," as the Olympics have become "just another professional multibillion-dollar sport that has to grow its audience to survive" ("CBS This Morning," 2/11).
February 11, 2014 09:47 AM
NBC finished with a 14.4 rating and 26.3 million viewers for coverage from 7:30-11 p.m. ET. The rating is the first day-over-day increase compared to live coverage from the 2010 Vancouver Games (14.3), but viewership was actually down slightly (26.4 million viewers). Compared to the tape-delayed 2006 Turin Games, Sunday’s prime-time coverage was up from a 13.3 rating and 23.2 million viewers.
NBC had to compete with the Season 4 midseason premiere for AMC’s “The Walking Dead” on Sunday night. While Olympic coverage outdrew the program’s 15.8 million viewers, “The Walking Dead” did better among adults 18-49.
Locally, Salt Lake City took the top spot for NBC on Sunday night with a 23.5 rating, beating out Minneapolis-St. Paul for the first time during these Olympics.
NBC averaged 15.4 million viewers on Sunday from 2-6 p.m., up 14 percent from similar coverage in 2010 and up 23 percent from 2006. NBC also averaged 8.0 million viewers for late-night coverage on Sunday from 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m., marking the best Winter Olympics audience for that time slot since the 1988 Calgary Games.
February 11, 2014 09:37 AM
The big winner in the audience department for the Sochi Games to date has been NBC Sports Network.
The network, which is airing Winter Olympic coverage for the first time, averaged 2.9 million viewers from 6 a.m. to 2:23 p.m. on Sunday, marking its second straight day of record-setting viewership. NBC Sports Network’s daytime coverage was highlighted by 5.5 million viewers watching live coverage of the gold-medal final for men’s ski jumping (individual K-95) from 1 p.m. to 2:23 p.m., marking the network’s most-watched telecast on record.
For comparison, NBCSN only drew 4.0 million viewers for Game 3 of last season’s Blackhawks-Bruins NHL Stanley Cup Final on a Monday night.
February 11, 2014 09:17 AM
Claude Ruibal, YouTube's global head of sports partnerships
Photo by:MARC BRYAN-BROWN
■ What is the state of YouTube’s sports operations?
RUIBAL: When I started (three years ago), our big sports heroes were dogs on skateboards. That was the extent of what we did. We had the NBA and a few other (leagues). But the comparison point would be around soccer. We had 11 channels distributing soccer content. Today we have over 400 channels distributing soccer content. We have 231 club channels alone of clubs like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona. A lot of those channels are getting millions and millions of views a year.
■ What’s the next phase of growth?
RUIBAL: My team’s main focus this year, and I think it’s an important area where we can add value is, if you take soccer as an example, we have breath of content, so we have every major league in Europe, we have uploads from every game they have. If you’re a soccer fan, particularly of the French league and want to see all the goals that week, YouTube’s a great place to catch up on that content. We’re not disruptive of their existing broadcast deals. We’re additive.
We’re going to continue to grow and offer a catch-up opportunity and do more leagues and more clubs. The NFL, for example, we’re not doing anything with. Those conversations are complicated, but we’ve definitely evolved to be a credible distribution platform for these big leagues.
■ What are the advantages of working with YouTube for the leagues?
RUIBAL: The other piece (we’re talking to leagues about) is really owning the history of sport. A lot of these leagues have their history of sport in some file. They haven’t necessarily brought it out. They haven’t in some cases digitized it. They haven’t developed meta-data around it so that search can be effective and people can find specific things around that history of sport.
Baseball was a great partner for that where they uploaded 28,000 hours of baseball going back to the 1952 World Series. The IOC has been a great partner for us. They have many, many hours of Olympics past. In the case of London, they put up the entire Olympic Games on YouTube.
■ You’re attending your 12th Olympics. What are your impressions of Sochi so far?
■ How does this compare to past Games?
RUIBAL: I loved the opening ceremony. I thought it was great for them to use the entire canvas of the venue so you had things all in the air and things on the ground. If you’re aware of how they’re using light on the surfaces now, it’s just amazing.
I mean, I’m sitting outside with you in the dead of winter and it’s not that cold. It’s comfortable and easy to get around, and the venues are just stunning. Hopefully, they have a legacy for years beyond to be used for all sorts of other world championships.
■ There’s been a lot of criticism of the hotels, security, anti-gay legislation. Is it fair?
RUIBAL: I think with every Games journalists don’t have anything to write about until the Games start so they look for the interesting story. It’s usually how something hasn’t happened or is not working. For every Olympic Games, there are often new facilities and you can’t make it all work perfectly. But if you look at the 360 of what’s happening, I would say 97 percent or 98 percent of things are right.
■ What event are you looking forward to?
RUIBAL: Any hockey game is fun. I (enjoyed) the downhill. I like pretty much any Olympic sport and am happy to go to anything.
February 10, 2014 03:48 PM
Omega's two-story pavilion in Sochi's Olympic Park
COURTESY OF OMEGA (3)
“The Olympics, up until a few months ago, hasn’t had any effect (on our business),” he said. “You need to get into the actual event for the effect to take hold. We feel the last couple of months a little more hype with our Olympic (marketing). Not just for the brand, but even for the sales.”
Urquhart said the key to Omega’s sales success in Russia would be the way the market develops in the coming years. The middle class in Russia is small and still evolving.
Omega is using the Olympics to raise its brand awareness in Russia’s largest cities, namely St. Petersburg and Moscow. It set up countdown clocks in nine cities a year prior to the Games, and it is running an ad promoting its co-axial timing system across Russia. It will host an event to promote its ladies watches in Moscow next month called “Time for Women.”
In Sochi, the company built its first showcase pavilion in an Olympic Park since the Beijing Games. The two-story, temporary silver building sits in the shadow of Fisht Stadium, which hosted the opening ceremony. There is red Omega signage on the exterior and a red Omega-branded bobsled in front of it.
Downstairs there is an exhibit detailing the evolution of the time-keeping products Omega has used at the Olympics. Upstairs there is a bar, a lounge, a dining area and a veranda that overlooks Olympic Park.
Urquhart said it was a “great location” and the perfect place to host six waves of guests from Russia, North America, Asia and Europe. He said the brand looked at renting space in town, as it had in London with its SoHo-based Omega House, but opted for the Park.
“In Sochi, where do you go?” Urquhart asked. “There’s nowhere to go. You could go down to the seaport but you’re away from this, an hour away. Here, we’re right in the middle of the whole activity. It’s a big investment, but I think it’s worth it.”
In addition to its efforts in Russia, Omega bought advertising with NBC that highlights its co-axial system. During the London Games, Omega’s ad featured The Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” and showed swimmers and sprinters on the starting block. But for Sochi, Urquhart said that the brand shifted the focus of its advertising from Olympic sports and endorsers, like Michael Phelps, to its co-axial system because he felt viewers get numb to sports during the Games.
“There’s no point in showing an Olympic ad,” Urquhart said. “Everyone knows what skiers do. We’re there to have a watch with a fabulous story behind it. To have this ad there is fantastic for the Games.”
February 10, 2014 02:15 PM
With the Sochi Games entering the third full day of competition, some of the TV news dialogue in the U.S. turns to the many empty seats at Olympic venues. THE DAILY offers a sampling from Sunday and Monday:
CBS' Alphonso Van Marsh said, "Small crowds and empty seats are becoming difficult to ignore. Travel agents say this Olympics could the lowest number of American spectators in decades. ... The world has not turned out for what should be the biggest party on Earth" ("CBS This Morning," CBS, 2/10). NBC's Chris Jansing: "Organizers today suggested they do know why some of the venues look so empty despite statements that 92 percent of tickets for yesterday's events were sold. A lot of people, they suggest, are showing up late." SOCOG Head of Communications Aleksandra Kosterin said, "Russians like to come to the event not prior, but as close as possible" ("Nightly News," NBC, 2/9).
Still, kind words about the competition and the host country are becoming more frequent. NBC's Natalie Morales: "Now if the competition so far is any indication, Sochi will be an Olympics for the ages" ("Today," NBC, 2/10). Mary Carillo said, "I’m so impressed by, not just Russia, but its people. They are really a remarkable collection of humanity" (“XXII Winter Olympics,” NBC, 2/9). CBS’ Mark Phillips: “I’m happy to report that what’s up is sports. ... Sports has raised its head and people are pretty relieved around here about that. The Games have been running smoothly. The fears of really tight security on the ground here have not materialized” (“Face the Nation,” CBS, 2/9).