By Day Three, IBM's system to deliver "up-to-the-minute" results was working for the media and Internet users, but newspaper and worldwide news agencies -- such as the AP or UPI -- "still aren't getting results online consistently," according to the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. ACOG COO A.D. Frazier: "The fundamental problem that was so vexing and difficult seems to be solved. The next big key is to get it into the World Press Feed." The media, however, "have grown increasingly angry" dubbing IBM's Info '96 system as "Info '97." IBM spokesperson Jeff Cross: "We expect people to judge us for our performance over the long haul of the Games, instead of the first two days" (Melissa Turner, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/23). NEWSDAY notes IBM's system has "stumbled badly" (Thomas Maier, NEWSDAY, 7/23). The FINANCIAL TIMES calls the problems "a setback for IBM's plans to use the event as a showcase" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/23). The L.A. TIMES: "The problems, if they are not solved quickly, could prove a colossal embarrassment" to ACOG and Atlanta organizers, who touted these as the "technology Games" (Eric Harrison, L.A. TIMES, 7/23). AP Sports Editor Terry Taylor: "Right now, we have to assume that the results problem won't be fixed" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/23).
The WASHINGTON POST and USA TODAY note NBC's research and tilt toward female viewers (WASH. POST, 7/23; USA TODAY, 7/23)....The Marquee Group notes that over 25% of NBC's on-air talent is represented by its subsidiary, Athletes & Artists (The Marquee Group)....CNN's "Moneyline" reported on the Games as a "ratings bonanza" for NBC. Analyst Stuart Rossmiller: "It has a phenomenon of rooting for the home town and the hometown is now Atlanta and not Barcelona. The torch has been run all across the country over the course of the last three months. Everyone knows the torch was going to Atlanta and that was great advertising for NBC" (CNN, 7/22)...."Showbiz Tonight" reported on how other over- the-air and cable networks are coping with NBC's highly rated coverage. ESPN Senior VP/Programming John Wildhack: "We're not just going to take these two and a half weeks and step aside. We're going to program as aggressively as we can. As good as the [NBC] numbers will be, not everyone will be tuned in" (CNN, 7/22)....In Toronto, William Houston notes CBC's coverage has been "clean, well thought out and mostly interesting." He adds CBC's 14-hours of coverage a day is "far superior" to NBC (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/23). The TORONTO STAR's Ken McKee notes CBC is not using its full complement of ads, 12 minutes per hour. Peter Krez, CBC's GM Sales & Marketing, said after they sold 90% of ad time, "we had more than met our target" (TORONTO STAR, 7/23).
NBC reported a 22.9 national rating and a 42 share for Sunday's prime time coverage, a 27% increase over Barcelona's first Sunday night of coverage. For the first three nights of the Games, NBC has averaged a 21.4/42, up 32% from the first weekend in '92. Among women 18-34, NBC gained a 16.1 on Sunday night, and a 14.1 cumulative over the first weekend. Both numbers are up significantly over Barcelona (NBC Sports). NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol said he would be "shocked" if Thursday night's ratings (women's gymnastics all-around finals) were not the highest of the Games. Ebersol, Exec Producer Tommy Roy and Coordinating Producer David Neal "appeared downright giddy" after the success and the ratings for the opening weekend (Prentis Rogers, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/23). LAST NIGHT'S PRELIMS: According to Nielsen Sports Marketing Service, NBC gained an 8.8/28 overnight for its daytime coverage, a 26.0/42 for its prime time, and a 9.6/31 for late night. NOTE: As these numbers are preliminary overnights, they may not match later figures cited either by the network or other news outlets (THE DAILY). GOOD REVIEWS: In Sacramento, Rick Kushman writes that TV's job "is to show us everything and stay out of the way. So far, NBC has done at least that" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 7/22). In Philadelphia, Mike Bruton calls NBC "masterful" in "weaving gripping stories and having its hosts and reporters on top of every twist and turn" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 7/23). SO, SO REVIEWS: In DC, Tom Shales: "If the Games are as earthshaking as NBC keeps saying they are, then they merit better coverage than NBC is giving them" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/23). In Minneapolis, Noel Holston writes, despite NBC's pledges to show as much as possible, "anybody who watched much of the first three days knows the network is doing nothing of the sort" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/23). NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay notes the "endless" NBC promos in addition to nine minutes of ads per hour (NEWSDAY, 7/23). ANNOUNCER GRADES: After giving high marks to gymnastics and swimming announcers, the L.A. TIMES' Larry Stewart criticizes the cycling coverage and announcer Al Trautwig for going "overboard with the dramatics, while forgetting about basic reporting" (L.A. TIMES, 7/22). In K.C., Randy Covitz makes the case for Bill Walton -- not Magic Johnson -- to be the third man on NBC's basketball crew (K.C. STAR, 7/22). In St. Pete, Ernest Hooper writes that John Tesh is getting a "bad rap." Hooper: "As long as it is genuine, I prefer too much emotion as opposed to not enough" (ST. PETERSBURG TIME, 7/22). In Washington, Tom Shales writes, "For the most part, Tesh is showing a previously suppressed dignity" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/23). In Boston, Jack Craig calls it "highly presumptuous" for Jim Gray to label 14- year-old silver medalist Amanda Beard as "America's sweetheart" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/23). NOSE FOR NEWS? The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Alexandra Peers: "While wire services and newspapers are chock full of tales of the credential foul-ups, heat stroke and transportation nightmares besetting Atlanta, it's Never-Never Land on NBC" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/23). NBC Sports spokesperson Ed Markey said he "didn't think much of the transportation story." But ACOG's problems were covered by NBC News (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/23). Ernest Hooper: "All is not well in Atlanta, but you would not know by watching NBC's prime-time broadcast" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 7/23).
The "In Depth" segment of "NBC Nightly News" focused on the improvements in sports medicine which have allowed numerous U.S. athletes to compete in the Atlanta Games (NBC, 7/22)....CNBC's Susan Lisovicz reported on how minority and women owned businesses played a role in constructing Olympic venue sites. Nearly 1/3 of the $387M in construction and vending contracts went to companies owned by minorities and women ("Sports View," 7/22)....NBC's Bob Costas, after a feature on the Battle of Atlanta: "Part of the reason Atlanta was able to land the Olympics was that for all the past history the city has demonstrated a real commitment for racial inclusion for the past several years. Without the former [Martin Luther] King aide and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, Billy Payne's vision of bringing the Games here would never have made if off the drawing board. And, as in most Atlanta business ventures, the Olympic effort included significant participation by African-Americans. No one would suggest that the Dream has been fully realized. Significant problems remain here. But, at long last, this one time bastion of the Confederacy seems to be doing better than most of the country in dealing with America's original sin and continuing dilemma (NBC, 7/22)....In L.A., Larry Stewart contrasted the Civil War piece with non-coverage of various sports. Stewart: "Hey, NBC, we tune in to watch competition, not for a history lesson" (L.A. TIMES, 7/23).
The European Broadcasting Union said yesterday it wants a refund of some of the $250M it paid for rights to the Atlanta Games. In a letter to IOC, EBU cited working conditions "so bad that its members could not deliver acceptable programs to viewers and listeners." The EBU is the largest media rightsholder after NBC and any refunds "would be a severe financial setback" for ACOG (Richard Walters, FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/23). The EBU's Jarle Hoeysaeter said broadcasters arriving at some events "looked for competitors names and found blank papers instead." The results system listed the age of one fighter at 95, when the boxer was only 21 (Johnson & Brown, USA TODAY, 7/23).
MCI introduces new TV spots on NBC's telecast. The campaign will be complemented by aircraft skywriting over Atlanta during the event. MCI said it has spent $20M in media alone to run 82 spots during the Games. MCI is also sponsoring 15 prime time vignettes, called the "Last 24 Hours" which features NBC highlights from the previous day (AD AGE, 7/23)....Reebok Int'l has hired The Bonham Group, a Denver-based sports marketing firm, to evaluate its Atlanta sponsorship presence (The Bonham Group)....New Balance will keep the three story building next to Centennial Park that it bought and renovated into a hospitality area. They will now rent it to other companies as hospitality space for conventions and other trade shows. New Balance has invested $3M into the building (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/23)....Swatch watches with Annie Liebovitz photos on the band and face are selling strong at Centennial Park. They are also available at Macy's (USA TODAY, 7/23)....Sources say Swatch is close to signing a deal with Sydney 2000 officials to renew their sponsorship. They would join McDonald's and Coca-Cola, who have also made commitments past '96 (Dottie Enrico, USA TODAY, 7/23)....Nielsen's top advertisers for coverage of Sunday's NBC's telecast include McDonald's, Coca-Cola Classic, and UPS. McDonald's aired seven ads; Coca-Cola had 5, and UPS ran 5 (USA TODAY, 7/23)....The PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS' Ed Moran looks at athletes and the difficulty in achieving commercial success: "All the right factors will have to fall into place in an exact order before ... [companies] start tossing paychecks." Marketers agree TV coverage is essential. ISI VP Steve Rosner: "An athlete might have a great underlying story, but because of the lack of coverage, during or before the Games, it might get lost" (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 7/23)....Atlanta-based UPS' Olympic sponsorship is profiled in the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. In two years, UPS has invested nearly $100M in its Olympic marketing program. UPS Dir of Business Development John Alden said the company is in the final stages on deals for Nagano and Sydney (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/23).
Media coverage of the transportation and technological problems that have confounded Games organizers and angered IOC officials continued to gain intensity, with even broadcast partner NBC getting into the act. Last night's "NBC Nightly News" reported the IOC's concerns over transportation problems and the "unreliable" athlete shuttle bus service. NBC's Tom Brokaw noted athletes are "disgusted" with the shuttles and that authorities were "herding" spectators into "human traffic jams" around the venues. Also, many street vendors and restaurants near the sites are missing out on potential customers and dropping prices. Some vendors are so upset by the lack of business, in fact, that a meeting was forced Monday with the Atlanta City Council to discuss the problem. Brokaw, however, led into a more positive story with this spin: "But even with all these inconveniences, everyday there are so many moments which make it all so worthwhile" (NBC, 7/22). THE RESPONSE: ACOG officials "are throwing more buses, guides to out-of-town drivers, and new routes at their taxed transportation system in an effort to solve their woes on the roads." In other news, major broadcasters (the EBU and Japan's NHK) are threatening suit over the "dismal performance" of ACOG's IBM-produced computer results system. IOC member Alex Gilady: "I'm trying to calm the broadcasters down." ACOG spokesperson Bob Brennan "insisted the bugs are being worked out in the complicated computer system, but he could not be specific". While Brennan refused to blame IBM, ACOG COO A.D. Frazier said they were told by IBM that the problems were "fixable." Frazier: "I don't know why it wasn't fixable before now" (Melissa Turner, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/23). The L.A. TIMES' Randy Harvey reports that IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch has appointed U.S. IOC member Anita DeFrantz to oversee ACOG's trouble-shooting efforts (L.A. TIMES, 7/22). PRINT MEDIA LETS LOOSE: The N.Y. DAILY NEWS: "The world's greatest sports extravaganza has been plagued by snags, delays and other logistical problems" (Luke Cyphers, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/23). USA TODAY notes organizers "scrambled Monday to quiet the chaos" (Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, 7/23). The L.A. TIMES' Mike Downey: "It isn't funny anymore. Atlanta's Olympic organization, an oxymoron if I've ever heard one, is being called 'the worst ever' by members of the international committee" (L.A. TIMES, 7/23). The lead from the top story in the WASHINGTON POST: "A brewing rebellion by Olympic athletes against transport troubles and other glitches is dramatizing a logistical nightmare that threatens to overwhelm the global camaraderie and goodwill [of the Games' opening]" (William Drozdiak, WASHINGTON POST, 7/23). The WASHINGTON TIMES' Tom Knott: "Gone With the Witless" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 7/23). Columnist Rich Hoffman: "This is just too big" (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 7/23). The N.Y. TIMES: "An overloaded transit system and neophyte bus drivers are making transportation the great unknown" (Peter Applebome, N.Y. TIMES, 7/23). The CHICAGO SUN-TIMES' Phil Rosenthal: "Folk aren't asking 'How y'all doing?' down here so much anymore. They know, and they're tired of hearing it" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/23).
There are a number of reports this morning on the fallen expectations of merchants and street vendors in Atlanta. In Philadelphia, Larry Copeland reports that parking-garage owners who had advertised rates of $50 a day "were gladly accepting $7" and that business owners on Auburn Avenue (where Martin Luther King is buried) claimed that ACOG reneged on a deal to close the avenue to traffic and turn it into a pedestrian mall (PHILA. INQUIRER, 7/23). Donald Ratajczak, Dir of Georgia State Univ.'s economic-forecasting center, said businesses ignored the "displacement factor" in that visitors are merely replacing the locals. Roger Tuttertow, Chair of Economics at Kennesaw State Univ.: "People who thought they were going to make a killing were probably a little on the naive side" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/21). In Atlanta, Ronald Smothers reports business is "slow to spotty," with taxi drivers "among the few to cash in so far" due to "glitches and overcrowding" in the transportation system (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/23).