• NBCSN finishes with 3.9M viewers for U.S.-Canada hockey semifinal

    NBC Sports Network drew a 2.7 U.S. rating and 3.9 million viewers for the Canada-U.S. men’s hockey semifinal on Friday afternoon. While the rating was a hockey record for NBC Sports Net — beating out the 2.6 for last Saturday’s U.S.-Russia pool-play game — the viewership is down from that overtime game, which drew 4.1 million viewers. The semifinal audience also helped NBCSN to its best weekday daytime audience on record (6 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET). The game peaked with 4.6 million viewers from 1:30 to 2 p.m.

    Tags: NBC, Hockey, Olympics
  • Canada-U.S. hockey semifinal sets streaming record with 2.12M uniques

    Canada’s 1-0 win over the U.S. in the Sochi Games’ men’s hockey semifinal on Friday drew 2.12 million unique streams via NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports Live Extra app, marking a streaming record for NBC Sports. The figure could set a new mark among all sporting events for an authenticated streaming audience. NBC’s previous record was 2.11 million uniques for the non-authenticated Giants-Patriots Super Bowl XLVI stream in 2012.

    The Canada-U.S. semifinal passes the previous Olympic record set earlier in the week with the authenticated stream of Thursday’s Canada-U.S. women’s hockey gold-medal game (1.2 million uniques). For comparison, ESPN’s most-streamed event remains the U.S.-Algeria pool-play match from the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which had around 866,000 uniques.

    Tags: Hockey, NBC, Olympics
  • NBC Thursday night down, but afternoon women’s hockey finale up

    NBC earned a 12.2 and 20.3 million viewers for Thursday night’s Sochi Olympic coverage, which featured gold-medal finals for ladies’ figure skating, women’s freestyle skiing (halfpipe) and men’s freestyle skiing (ski cross). Those figures are down from the comparable second Thursdays during both the 2010 Vancouver and 2006 Turin Games. The same night in 2010 drew a 13.6 rating and 22.9 million viewers, while the same night in 2006 drew a 15.8 rating and 25.7 million viewers.

    Meanwhile, NBC on Thursday from 12-3:30 p.m. ET averaged 4.9 million viewers for coverage that included the Canada-U.S. women’s gold-medal hockey game, marking the most-viewed women’s Olympic hockey final since the two teams met at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, which was aired in prime time.

    Tags: NBC, Figure Skating, Olympics
  • Facebook, McMorris top social media engagement as Games wind down

    Canada's Mark McMorris has been the most popular Olympian in terms of social media.
    As the Sochi Games come to a close, Facebook has passed Instagram as the social network with the most interactions, with 60 percent of total fan interactions. In second was Instagram with 32 percent, followed by 8 percent for Twitter.

    In a new report by Hookit, 885 international athletes were tracked on social media for the time frame of Feb. 4-20, and they combined to have nearly 25 million fan interactions across the three main social networks. The athletes have also combined to add almost 7 million new fans.

    The most popular athlete through the Games continues to be Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris. His Instagram dominance over other athletes is evident in the fact that he has nine of the 10 most popular Olympian photos posted to the site. He’s added more than 368,000 social media fans over the course of the Sochi Games.
    A closer look into the data compiled by Hookit (see below) delivers a good glimpse into the power of the different social media outlets by region. For example, McMorris has been the most popular Olympian with both new followers and fan interactions, with a majority of those on Instagram. Conversely, Dutch speedskater Sven Kramer and Slovenian alpine skier Tina Maze both see almost all of their fan interactions on Facebook.

    Popular U.S. athletes usually see more even distribution across all networks.

    Tags: Facebook, Media, Twitter, Olympics
  • 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.

    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
    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
    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
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