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Volume 24 No. 117

Olympics

          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).