Tony Ponturo, Anheuser-Busch's VP/Corporate Media and
Sports Marketing, said Monday that "both the low household
ratings and the lower numbers of young male viewers will
force the company to sit down" with NBC execs before the
Sydney Summer Games in 2000, according to Kirk & Jones of
the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Ponturo felt that CBS's coverage
"ignored male viewers and played a major role" in the low
ratings. Nielsen Media reports that the '98 Games drew
"only" a 9.3 rating with males ages 25-54, compared with a
17.1 rating in '94. Ponturo: "You have to make sure women
are intrigued with the Olympics. But we're now concerned
that the pendulum is so far over the 21-to-34-year-old male
is saying that 'you're not talking to me anymore.'" Ponturo
said that A-B "may take the unusual step of asking" for NBC
"to guarantee an audience with a more specific makeup --
namely, young men -- when it negotiates" its advertising for
the next Games (Kirk & Jones, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/24).
BELIEVERS: AD AGE's Jeff Jensen reports that A-B, AT&T
and Coca-Cola are "expected to announce within weeks deals
to advertise on NBC's broadcasts of the next five Olympic
Games." A-B's pack is valued at around $375M for the NBC
rights. Jensen: "Although advertisers will try to leverage
the poor performance of CBS to squeeze NBC for lower rates
in 2002, observers said that will be difficult." Momentum
IMC Managing Dir Mark Dowley: "I don't see the problems of
Nagano even putting a dent in the marketability of the next
Winter Olympics" (AD AGE, 2/23). DAILY VARIETY's Richard
Katz reports that CBS's sub-par performance "did not have
implications" for the 2002 Salt Lake Games. TN Media Senior
Partner Steve Sternberg: "Salt Lake City is going to be a
home run no matter what" (DAILY VARIETY, 2/24).
FROM OZ: NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol "anticipates
no problems" with broadcasting the Sydney Games. Despite
the time difference, "despite everything being on tape,
Ebersol said his production will be propelled by
storytelling." Ebersol: "The Summer Olympics is a 26-ring
circus, and there's never a paucity of events to put on.
And Americans are medal participants in all sports. ...
We've shown that the Olympics have to be produced more as
entertainment than a sporting event. ... There is a lot more
fragmentation out there, from on line, so they'd better hit
the emotional high points all the time" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/24).
CBS's primetime coverage of the Nagano Games averaged a
16.2/26, which is down 13% from Albertville in '92 and down
42% from Lillehammer in '94. CBS estimates that 184 million
viewers watched all or part of the Games, making it the
third most-watched event in TV history, trailing only
Atlanta in '96 and Lillehammer in '94. In the February
Sweep-to-date, CBS has a 16.0/25, which is 70% ahead of
NBC's 9.4/15, 122% ahead of ABC's 7.2/11 and 103% ahead of
Fox's 7.9/12. CBS announced that its O&O stations averaged
a 17.5/27 for their primetime coverage, boosting ten of the
13 O&O's to first place in their respective markets (CBS
Sports). Sunday's Closing Ceremony earned an 11.7/18 from
8:00-11:00pm ET, and was beat out by ABC's telecast of
"Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding," which scored a
16.9/26 from 9:00-11:00pm ET (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 2/24).
PLACE IN HISTORY: USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke notes the
16.2 rating makes its the third-lowest Winter Olympics in
history. Grey Advertising's Jon Mandel: "By not running
events, CBS lost the men, and because the warm-and-fuzzy
pieces weren't so warm and fuzzy, women didn't watch" (USA
TODAY, 2/24). Sanford C. Bernstein & Sons' Tom Wolzien said
CBS was the "victim of just plain bad luck ... plus, you had
some very aggressive counter-programming from the other
networks. ... I think there were some very sophisticated
programming tactics that were used this time" (CHICAGO
TRIBUNE, 2/24). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes, "By
various measures, the ... Games were highly successful."
The net posted strong February sweeps numbers, did well with
its O&Os and David Letterman's "Late Show" beat out NBC's
"Tonight Show" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/24). DAILY VARIETY's Rich
Katz writes that industry observers called CBS's performance
"disappointing," but said it "would still benefit the net."
Katz adds that CBS "will turn a profit" on the Games, since
by adding "additional commercial times into its Olympic
coverage late in the second week, CBS helped ensure it would
not lose money on the event." Katz notes "several" analysts
predict CBS will see a $30M profit (DAILY VARIETY, 2/24).
No U.S. athletes in Nagano are "likely to enjoy
anything close to the record" $5M in endorsements that Mary
Lou Retton took home after the '84 Summer Games, according
to USA TODAY's Bruce Horovitz. Horovitz: "If consumers
didn't watch the Nagano Games, why would they suddenly buy
products hawked by medal winners?" While eight gold medal
winners graced Wheaties boxes after the '96 Games, only the
U.S. women's hockey team is featured this year. Wheaties
spokesperson Pam Becker: "Customers felt we cheapened the
equity by putting too many athletes on the box after the
Summer Olympics." Gold Medal Management's Brad Hunt, who
represents Picabo Street, said it could be 90 days before
she signs her next deal: "You can't make a status report one
day after the closing ceremonies." D&F's Allen Furst said
that his group is negotiating with "several Japanese firms"
for his client, Nicole Bobek (USA TODAY, 2/24).
LOOKING AHEAD: The IOC has formed an internal committee
called the Millennium Olympics Group "to plan out
Millennium-themed marketing activities that would culminate"
at the 2000 Syndey Games (AD AGE, 2/24). USA TODAY's Bruce
Horovitz wrote that advertisers "already are gearing up" for
Sydney as marketing teams from GM, Coca-Cola and McDonald's
are set to meet to "plot strategy" (USA TODAY, 2/23).
AD REVIEWS: In N.Y., Stuart Elliott reviews ads around
the Games, writing on the "poor performance" of Madison Ave.
with "dreadfully dull commercials" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/24).
Linda Tripp, involved in the President Clinton-Monica
Lewinsky dispute, "is a final candidate for a plum
government job helping to coordinate" the 2002 Games,
according to Brian Blomquist of the N.Y. POST. Tripp is one
of three finalists for the civilian liaison job for the
Army. Pentagon execs "wouldn't comment" (N.Y. POST, 2/22).
MORE FROM UTAH: Salt Lake's preparations are featured
in USA TODAY's sports cover story by Jill Lieber under the
header, "New Utah Motto: Be Prepared" (USA TODAY, 2/24).
...U.S. Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) and U.S. Rep. Merrill
Cook (R-UT) said they are "more convinced than ever the
federal government must help pay for the 2002 Winter Games
in Salt Lake City" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 2/22)....SLOC will
have "at most" 50 licensees, compared to 160 in Nagano, and
expects to raise about $35M of the more than $1B needed to
host the 2002 Games (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 2/21).
MORE REAX FROM NAGANO: In Toronto, Al Strachan: "The
people who ran this Olympics did so with a degree of
gentility, civility and politeness that absolutely
astonished Olympic veterans" (TORONTO SUN, 2/24). In San
Jose, Ann Killion: "Japan restored dignity to the Games.
The corporate sponsors were here but low-key" (MERCURY NEWS,
2/24). In Boston, Bob Ryan: "The Nagano Olympics worked for
everyone. ... The Olympics are the Olympics are the
Olympics, and if American TV can't get a proper handle on
it, the fault lies within itself, not the event it is trying
to cover" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/24). A SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS
editorial: "The Olympics have become an overly commercial,
overly professional and overly political event, but they
still have their moments" (EXPRESS-NEWS, 2/24).
Although Team USA came home without a medal, the
Olympic "experience wasn't a waste, at least according to
the NHL. They say the purpose was to get worldwide exposure
for the sport," according to CNBC's Don Dahler. NHL VP
Bernadette Mansur: "Over eleven billion people across the
planet watched the Olympics." Dahler: "Even though the
games aired late, delayed, and to relatively small ratings,
they were some of the highest rated hockey games ever seen
on U.S. TV." Mansur: "We have a very young demographic.
We're stronger than any other sport in the 18-34. And that
demographic stuck with us." Dahler: "When word got out that
some of Team USA's superstars acted like superbrats, some
observers began to question if the great experiment was
worthwhile." But sports marketing consultant Scott Carter
said that for the league, "Ultimately the benefits far
outweighed the shortcomings" ("The Edge," CNBC, 2/23).
ANOTHER VOTE FOR A RETURN: In N.Y., columnist Dave
Anderson supports the league's return for the Salt Lake 2002
Games: "Don't let those who trashed the room spoil what is
the world's center stage for hockey" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/24).
LAUGH TRACKS: On the "Late Show," David Letterman: "I
thought the Olympics and the closing ceremonies generally,
kind of ended up on a bad note when the U.S. men's hockey
team drank several cases of beer and tried to extinguish the
Olympic flame" ("Late Show," CBS, 2/23). On the "Tonight
Show," Jay Leno said, "Even though war has been avoided, the
word is out that the Clinton administration may try some
covert action to try and topple Saddam Hussein. What
they're gonna do is send the U.S. Olympic hockey team over
and have them just trash the place" (NBC, 2/23).
AS OPPOSED TO? Canadian Hockey Association VP Bob
Nicholson, on his team's fourth place finish: "I don't think
it was a disaster at all. We certainly didn't get the gold
medal we were after, but the players themselves were
outstanding" (Grant Kerr, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/24).
MLB: USA TODAY's Hal Bodley writes MLB "can forget
about sending players to the Olympics. The [NHL] proved in
Nagano it doesn't work." MLB President Paul Beeston: "When
we talked about this, we said we had the benefit of being
able to observe what happened with the NHL in the Olympics.
Sure, there are some concerns now" (USA TODAY, 2/24).
While the women's U.S. hockey team won the gold, "most
people connected with the sport think it's ready for a
small-scale regional pro league at best, and perhaps not
even that," according to Barbara Huebner of the BOSTON
GLOBE. USA Hockey Exec Dir David Ogrean: "A full-fledged
professional league is a ways down the line. I think we
need to move forward, but realistically forward." Ogrean
calls the Women's Professional Hockey League (WPHL), led by
Hockey East Dir of Media Relations Ed Saunders, "in the near
term probably one of the best ideas." Its four teams would
have 20 players each, paid $500-$1,000 per game. Ogrean
sees the "biggest boost" of the women's gold medal at the
youth, high school and college level (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/24).
The WPHL is profiled by BLOOMBERG, as Jack McGregor, one of
the league's investors, said the WPHL will incur startup
costs of $1-1.2M. Site selection for the four franchises
will be announced in March (BLOOMBERG/N.Y. POST, 2/24).