• USA Hockey remains most popular governing body in social media

    After two weeks of competition, USA Hockey remains the most popular governing body for the Sochi Games. The combined Facebook likes and Twitter followers for USA Hockey equaled over 58,000 new fans, more than doubling its closest competition. In second was U.S. Figure Skating, with more than 26,000 new fans during that time period. The U.S. Ski Team finished third with over 8,000 additions.

    The most popular social media property involved in the Olympics was by far the International Olympic Committee, which added more than 2 million new fans on social media. The combined outlets for NBC Olympics saw significant growth with over 500,000 additions, while the U.S. Olympic Committee added more than 200,000 new fans.

    Listed below are the combined Facebook likes and Twitter followers for the official pages/feeds of Olympic properties and U.S. governing bodies on Wednesday, Feb. 5, compared to Friday, Feb. 21.

    PROPERTY 5-Feb FACEBOOK LIKES 5-Feb TWITTER FOLLOWERS 5-Feb TOTAL 21-Feb FACEBOOK LIKES 21-Feb TWITTER FOLLOWERS 21-Feb TOTAL TOTAL ADDITIONS
    Olympics 5,564,970 2,359,652 7,924,622 7,448,887 2,501,786 9,950,673 2,026,051
    NBC Olympics 693,603 432,459 1,126,062 1,119,968 550,491 1,670,459 544,397
    Sochi Winter Games 188,014 105,570 293,584 438,994 272,538 711,532 417,948
    U.S. Olympic Team 2,520,861 436,900 2,957,761 2,578,267 581,883 3,160,150 202,389
     
    GOVERNING BODY 5-Feb FACEBOOK LIKES 5-Feb TWITTER FOLLOWERS 5-Feb TOTAL 21-Feb FACEBOOK LIKES 21-Feb TWITTER FOLLOWERS 21-Feb TOTAL TOTAL ADDITIONS
    USA Hockey 265,569 105,021 370,590 280,221 148,521 428,742 58,152
    U.S. Figure Skating 43,546 34,587 78,133 52,905 51,862 104,767 26,634
    USA Luge 3,383 1,395 4,778 6,551 3,859 10,410 5,632
    USA Bobsled and Skeleton 9,537 3,859 13,396 10,518 7,246 17,764 4,368
    US Speedskating 13,152 5,905 19,057 15,038 8,131 23,169 4,112
    USA Curling 22,401 2,184 24,585 25,569 2,889 28,458 3,873
    U.S. Biathlon 2,090 3,427 5,517 4,460 2,979 7,439 1,922
     
    USSA Teams 5-Feb FACEBOOK LIKES 5-Feb TWITTER FOLLOWERS 5-Feb TOTAL 21-Feb FACEBOOK LIKES 21-Feb TWITTER FOLLOWERS 21-Feb TOTAL TOTAL ADDITIONS
    U.S. Ski Team 60,136 24,986 85,122 62,765 30,641 93,406 8,284
    U.S. Snowboarding 15,843 8,977 24,820 21,425 10,856 32,281 7,461
    U.S. Freeskiing 3,497 4,146 7,643 6,259 4,944 11,203 3,560
    USSA Nordic 5,119 2,225 7,344 5,451 3,183 8,634 1,290
    U.S. Freestyle Ski 5,735 954 6,689 6,259 1,324 7,583 894
    USA Ski Jumping 2,315 0 2,315 2,702 0 2,702 387

    Tags: Hockey, Media, Facebook, Twitter, Figure Skating, Olympics, NBC
  • NBC gets strong Wednesday night rating with Ligety, figure skating

    NBC finished with a 12.2 rating and 20.2 million viewers for prime-time Sochi Games coverage on Wednesday, marking the best Winter Olympic audience for the second Wednesday since the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

    Coverage on Tuesday was highlighted by Ted Ligety winning the gold medal in the men’s giant slalom and the ladies’ figure-skating short program. Also airing were the gold-medal finals for women’s bobsled and men’s snowboarding (parallel giant slalom).

    NBC’s Wednesday night rating was up 3 percent from an 11.9 for the same night at the 2010 Vancouver Games and up 22 percent from a 10.0 during the 2006 Turin Games. Through 13 nights from Sochi, NBC is averaging a 13.0 rating, down 8 percent from 2010 but up 5 percent from 2006.

    Meanwhile, USA Network averaged 1.9 million viewers for the U.S.-Czech Republic men’s hockey quarterfinal on Wednesday afternoon. MSNBC averaged 480,000 viewers for the Canada-Latvia quarterfinal.

    Tags: NBC, Olympics
  • USOC to consider marketing changes to stringent Rule 40

    The U.S. Olympic Committee is considering relaxing its enforcement of Rule 40, a rule that prevents non-Olympic sponsors from associating with Olympians before, during and after a Games.

    The International Olympic Committee has plans to evaluate Rule 40 after the Sochi Games, said Timo Lumme, IOC director of TV and marketing services.

    “It’s a review not necessarily of the rule but of its application and enforcements by (national Olympic committees),” Lumme said.

    The USOC is supportive of making changes to the rule’s enforcement. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said the organization feels that it can protect the commercial interests of Olympic sponsors while also giving non-competing sponsors of athletes opportunities to highlight their support of Olympians.

    “If you look at the vast majority of our Olympic athletes, they have 16 days every four years to have their brand front and center,” Blackmun said. “We would like to find more ways for them to have commercial opportunities without ambushing corporate sponsors. We’d like to have an open dialogue about that.”

    Blackmun said some of the changes the USOC would like to include would be allowing non-competing sponsors like Head skis, which sponsors Ted Ligety, to congratulate the athlete they support after they compete.

    “It’s an open question (how that would work),” Blackmun said. “If there’s an ad that doesn’t have Olympic marks, images or terminology and doesn’t cause any confusion in the eyes of a consumer about whether the sponsor is behind the athlete or the Olympics, then we should consider that.”

    That position is a major change from the one the USOC held for the better part of the last three decades. Historically, it touted Rule 40 so much that athletes even scrub sponsors from their websites before the Olympics begin.

    But track star Sanya Richards-Ross and a number of other athletes attacked Rule 40 on Twitter and at a press conference before the 2012 London Games. The athletes’ position was that the sponsors who support them year-round should be able to support them when they’re competing in their most high-profile event, even if those sponsors are not official Olympic partners.

    The IOC and USOC have been talking about changing Rule 40 in some way ever since then. Doing so won’t be easy.

    “The challenge here is it’s so subjective,” Blackmun said. “If you look at an ad that doesn’t use Olympic marks but clearly is Olympic ambush, that’s not right and we want to protect our sponsors. But if an athlete has a long-term relationship with a company and they want to continue that and not put it on hold, that’s something we need to have a conversation about.”

    Tags: USOC, IOC, Olympics
  • U.S. Speedskating to undergo review after dismal Games

    U.S. team members initially pointed to Under Armour's suit for the team's poor performance.
    U.S. Speedskating plans to bring in outside experts and consultants and undertake a review of its preparation for the Sochi Games, said Mike Plant, the organization’s president.

    “We’re saying, ‘Let’s do a deep dive into this,’” Plant said. “We can’t do it internally. We have to bring in external resources.”

    Plant said that the organization will bring in sports scientists and sports physiologists as well as speedskating greats like Bonnie Blair. Collectively, they’ll evaluate what went wrong at the Sochi Games.

    The U.S. Speedskating team came into Sochi expecting long-tack skaters like Heather Richardson and Shani Davis to medal. Instead, the Dutch team repeatedly swept the podium. It’s the third straight Olympics in which the U.S. long-track medal count has decreased, and the overall medal count between long- and short-track races will be the U.S. team’s lowest since at least 1998.

    Plant compares the American’s performance to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Broncos had a great year, as U.S. Speedskating did, but they fell short on football’s biggest stage.

    The U.S. team’s failure to meet expectations was so confusing to team members that they initially blamed new suits developed by sponsor Under Armour before the Games. They had never competed in the suits and some felt like they were holding the team back. Eventually, U.S. Speedskating switched to an old Under Armour suit, but the results were the same.

    The Wall Street Journal put two stories about the suits on its front page, and the subject of the suits dominated conversation. But Plant said that the team is aware that the outfits weren’t the issue, and he hopes Under Armour will continue to sponsor the team.

    “Deep down we know it wasn’t the suits,” he said. “Under Armour is an American company supporting an American team. They’re not quitters and neither are we.”

    The U.S. Speedskating team still had a few more shots to medal when Plant spoke. The Atlanta Braves executive was en route to a meeting with the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce about the team’s planned relocation to Cobb County. He returned to the U.S. early this week and has spent his days working on the Braves and nights working on speedskating.

    Plant, a member of the 1980 U.S. Speedskating team, joined the organization as president less than a year ago. U.S. Speedskating was just coming out of a coaching abuse scandal, and it’s financial performance had left it in debt.

    As president, Plant set about overhauling the governance structure by writing new bylaws and shifting power from volunteers to board members, writing new bylaws. He hired former U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association chief marketer Ted Morris as executive director last fall, and Morris worked to sign new partners such as BMW, TD Ameritrade and Liberty Mutual.

    But Plant said the one thing he didn’t begin thoroughly evaluating was the organization’s sports programs and planning.

    “Did I focus the last nine months on high performance?” he asked. “Not at all. That (volunteer meddling) got us into this situation. Volunteers were getting involved in what the coaches were doing.”

    Plant said he doesn’t expect to get heavily involved in performance issues after the Sochi Games, but he hopes that the evaluation committee he creates to review the performance in Sochi will result in changes to how the U.S. prepares for Pyeongchang in 2018.

    “The last piece of the puzzle (performance) is what encourages me,” Plant said. “I’m confident we’ll make some announcements soon that show that.”

    Tags: Olympics
  • Departing Coke exec McCune discusses 16 years of Olympic memories

    Marketing executive Scott McCune is working his last Olympics with Coke after 16 years.
    Scott McCune has worked on 10 Olympics during his time as a marketing executive with Coca-Cola. Sochi is his last with the company. The vice president of global partnerships and experiential marketing is leaving Coke to start his own business, McCune Sports & Entertainment. He sat down with SBJ’s Tripp Mickle at USA House to talk about his memories of working on the Olympics during his 16 years with Coca-Cola.

    What is your fondest Olympic memory?

    McCUNE: It is when we took the Olympic flame around the world and were in Capetown, South Africa, in a shanty town. I have a picture of a young South African kid, barefoot, torn shirt and shorts, running with the torch with a huge smile. It symbolized not only the Olympic movement but also Coca-Cola. Here was a shantytown, and Coca-Cola brought the Olympic flame to them and the whole town lit up with huge smiles.

    What’s the hardest thing about preparing for an Olympics from a marketing perspective?
    McCUNE: From a marketing perspective, one of the challenges is from a global perspective coming up with a core idea and story that’s relevant not just in the host country but also around the world, if you really want to scale, build it once and use it multiple times. Continually coming up with new ideas to bring the brand to life. For example, the torch relay. How do you continue to evolve that? In London, we put the music behind it. In Sochi, we emphasized active living.

    What’s the biggest challenge operationally?
    McCUNE: Coca-Cola has a very good system in place. It carries learnings forward from one Olympics to the next. For example, our Coca-Cola team from Korea, which hosts the 2018 Olympics, is here on the ground with a future Olympic host program. They come to a three-month-out review with our Sochi team. They come and observe the Olympics. Then they will come to an after-action review where we weed out what worked, what didn’t work and what we can do next. That helps, especially when you have to service 40 different venues, the Athletes’ Village and all the other challenging logistics.

    What Olympics has been the most impactful for Coke’s business?
    McCUNE: Three come to mind. China and the Beijing Olympics because of what it allowed us to do in the country. London, where we had 115 countries take a global campaign and activate it, was satisfying. Then, quite frankly, Sochi, from a Russian business standpoint, has allowed us to take leadership.

    What do new sponsors have the hardest time understanding when they come into the Olympics?
    McCUNE: The complexity of the Olympic movement. It’s not just the IOC, the organizing committees, the national Olympic committees, the federations. Sometimes that’s a surprise. Perhaps we sponsors don’t fully understand the power of leveraging the Olympics beyond a marketing platform. It can be a platform to do a lot of things for your business beyond marketing.

    All Olympics are difficult. What sticks out in your mind as a difficult Olympic moment?
    McCUNE: In Nagano, during the Olympic torch relay. We used Georgia O’Keeffe. It’s a big brand in Japan. It was the first time we’d never used brand Coke on the torch. Our CMO Sergio (Zyman) was coming to see the torch. The drop-off point was an athlete club. Coca-Cola Japan, they roll out the red carpet. I’m in a car with the activation guy (with Coca-Cola Japan), Takeo Masaoka, and we drive up and there’s a Pepsi truck parked there delivering product. Masaoka went white. We go inside and we talk to the Pepsi guys loading product. Masaoka gets in the Pepsi truck and drives it around the back. Sergio shows up and it’s gone. That’s a memory I will never forget.

    Tags: Olympics, Coca-Cola
  • CBC sets streaming record with women's hockey final

    Just as NBC posted its strong streaming numbers in the U.S. for Thursday's Olympic women's ice hockey gold-medal game, the CBC in Canada set its own record for the event.

    The CBC's streaming audience of 325,000 unique users on mobile and desktop devices is the highest digital audience ever for any live event in network history. And given Canada's total population of about 35 million, the digital audience represented nearly 1 percent of the entire country.

    NBC's number of 1.2 million uniques for Thursday’s game, while certainly historic in its own right, comparatively represented about three-tenths of 1 percent of the U.S. total population of about 315 million.

    Tags: Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Hockey, Olympics
  • White, Kenworthy rise on Twitter; Oshie adds 158,000 followers

    Despite not medaling in Sochi, Shaun White still gained more than 111,000 Twitter followers.
    After 12 days of competition, only three U.S. Olympians have added more than 90,000 followers on Twitter during that time frame.

    Among U.S. athletes, Shaun White continues to lead all non-professional hockey players with more than 111,000 new followers despite not medaling in Sochi. Silver-medalist freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy used his notable efforts to help adopt stray dogs from Sochi to supplement his Olympic popularity to the tune of almost 93,000 new followers.

    While professional hockey players weren’t being tracked, the overnight success of shootout star T.J. Oshie was impossible to ignore. Since the Games began, the St. Louis Blues star has added more than 158,000 new followers. That would place him first among all Olympians tracked. In comparison, the other shootout hero, goalie Jonathan Quick, only added 12,000 new followers.

    Rounding out the leaderboard with more than 50,000 new followers since the Sochi Games began were snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg, figure skaters Gracie Gold and Meryl Davis, and freestyle skier Nick Goepper.

    Twitter followers were measured on Feb. 5 and again on Feb. 20. Professional hockey players were not included in this data.

    Top 20 U.S. Olympians in Sochi

    RANK Top 20 Most Additions Twitter Handle Feb. 5 - Twitter Followers Feb. 20 - Twitter Followers ADDITIONS INDIVIDUAL MEDAL
    1 Shaun White @shaun_white 1,258,623 1,369,667 111,044  
    2 Gus Kenworthy @guskenworthy 13,606 106,520 92,914 SILVER
    3 Sage Kotsenburg @sagekotsenburg 7,425 69,549 62,124 GOLD
    4 Gracie Gold @GraceEGold 25,286 82,461 57,175  
    5 Nick Goepper @NickGoepper 11,164 64,859 53,695 BRONZE
    6 Meryl Davis @Meryl_Davis 20,873 73,742 52,869 GOLD
    7 Bode Miller @MillerBode 37,407 84,211 46,804 BRONZE
    8 Ashley Wagner @AshWagner2010 29,714 71,540 41,826  
    9 Charlie White @CharlieaWhite 18,435 58,532 40,097 GOLD
    10 Jamie Anderson @Jme_Anderson 11,490 47,634 36,144 GOLD
    11 Jason Brown @jasonbskates 10,013 38,563 28,550  
    12 Joss Christensen @josschristensen 8,724 28,799 20,075 GOLD
    13 Julia Mancuso @JuliaMancuso 54,016 73,201 19,185 BRONZE
    14 Kaitlyn Farrington @KaitlynFarr 2,370 16,914 14,544 GOLD
    15 Hillary Knight @Hilary_Knight 14,785 28,799 14,014  
    16 Bobby Brown @Bobby_Brown1 33,189 47,125 13,936  
    17 Jeremy Abbott @jeremyabbottpcf 26,240 40,128 13,888  
    18 Noelle Pikus Pace @noellepikuspace 2,059 15,395 13,336 SILVER
    19 Lolo Jones @lolojones 378,543 391,165 12,622  
    20 Johnny Quinn @JohnnyQuinnUSA 14,073 26,491 12,418  

    Tags: Twitter, Olympics
  • Women's hockey final attracts 1.2M unique streaming users

    NBC Sports said late Thursday that it generated 1.2 million unique users for its digital stream of the Olympic women's ice hockey gold-medal game between the U.S. and Canada, the largest audience for any sports event in the history of NBC Sports Digital with the exception of Super Bowl XLVI two years ago.

    That Super Bowl drew 2.1 million unique users, at the time the most-watched U.S. sports event online ever. The hockey game also drew 34.9 million minutes of consumption. The streaming audience figures from Thursday will likely be challenged, if not surpassed, by Friday's men's semifinal Olympic hockey game between the U.S. and Canada.

    Tags: Hockey, NBC, Olympics
  • Getty Images photographer breaks down Olympic hockey assignment

    Each Olympic hockey game that Getty Images shoots produces roughly 1,000 images, according to staff photographer Bruce Bennett.
    Getty Images has been the official photo agency of the International Olympic Committee since 1988. The company has a team of 69 photographers, editors and technicians uploading 2,000-plus images a day in Sochi. Staff photographer Bruce Bennett is a member of the team. It’s his fourth Olympics, and hockey is his specialty. He photographs the NHL year-round, and in Sochi he will be shooting this weekend’s medal round. He spoke to SBJ’s Tripp Mickle before the Olympics about his work.

    What’s the biggest difference between shooting an Olympics and shooting an NHL game?
    BENNETT: We’re dealing with a larger ice surface. Anticipating the plays forwards and defensemen will make in games on an international surface takes a little while. There are so many more photographers at these events, and that changes the dynamics as well.

    How many more photographers?
    BENNETT: Let’s start with the women’s games. For a typical (Olympic) women’s (hockey) game, you might have 30 or 40 photographers. An NHL game has five to 10. The men’s final will have about 100 photographers. For the Stanley Cup final, you might have 30.

    Do you get to photograph anything other than hockey?
    BENNETT: In Vancouver, I had some days to walk around the city and shoot some scenics and get some atmosphere shots, but my sole focus is to make sure the hockey arenas are taken care of.

    How many photographs will shoot in an average day?
    BENNETT: It appears that all the days I shoot there will be two or three games a day, and each game will have almost 1,000 images shot handheld. Within 180 seconds, we can have images out and back to our editors and out for publication. Key moments get out extremely quickly.

    What’s the most interesting thing about being a photographer at the Olympics?
    BENNETT: The enthusiasm on players’ faces. These players want to participate. They want to play for their country. There are a lot of National Hockey League games where players don’t seem completely engaged. But the whole atmosphere — fans, players, camaraderie — it shows in the photos. It’s the best hockey you’ll see in four years.

    What makes for a great Olympic photo?
    BENNETT: What we look for when it comes our way is the jubilation and dejection in the same photograph. I prefer the ice-level positions so that you can see faces. The best hockey photographs are when you can see players’ expressions and the intensity. If you can get celebration and dejection in the same shot, that’s a winner for you.

    Tags: Hockey, Olympics, NHL
  • NBC gets best Olympic stream figure yet with U.S.-Czech Republic game

    NBC Sports Live Extra’s live stream of the U.S.-Czech Republic men’s hockey quarterfinal game Wednesday drew 798,337 unique users, marking an Olympic record and ranking second all-time among NBC Sports’ event streams.

    The all-time record still belongs to the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl XLVI stream in 2012, which drew 2.1 million uniques. The previous Olympic record was 682,806 uniques for the U.S.-Japan women’s soccer gold-medal match during the 2012 London Games (see chart, below).

    For a comparison to streams on ESPN3, the U.S.-Czech Republic match would rank second all-time behind only 865,729 uniques for the U.S.-Algeria pool-play match from the 2010 FIFA World Cup. ESPN3’s second-best event was 772,788 uniques for the Florida State-Auburn BCS National Championship game last month.

    TOP OLYMPIC EVENT STREAMS FOR NBC SPORTS AMONG UNIQUES
    DATE
    EVENT
    UNIQUE STREAMS
    2/19/14
    Men's hockey quarterfinal: U.S.-Czech Republic
    798,337
    8/9/12
    Women's soccer gold-medal match: U.S.-Japan
    682,806
    2/15/14
    Men's hockey pool play: U.S.-Russia
    598,552
    2/11/14
    Men's snowboard halfpipe gold medal (Shaun White)
    595,764
    8/2/12
    Men's swimming (200-meter IM/Michael Phelps)
    423,681
       

    Tags: NBC, Hockey, Olympics
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