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Volume 24 No. 156


NBC Sports execs "were decidedly pleased with the performance of the Sochi Winter Olympics, thus far," according to Michael O’Connell of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The seventh day of Sochi coverage saw ratings approaching the '10 Vancouver Games, and, "with multiple platforms, they're breaking records." The "negatives of Sochi” have “not seemed to deter viewers." NBCUniversal President of Research & Media Development Alan Wurtzel said, "Our viewers were totally aware of all that, but a total 87 percent said it didn't matter to them." Over the weekend, 44% of viewers who said that hearing results prior to Sunday coverage indicated that it "would have no impact on their intent" to watch (, 2/13). In L.A., Meg James reports NBC execs are giving the Sochi Games "a high score," as audience levels "have exceeded the network's expectations.” Viewership on digital platforms during the Games "has jumped 54% compared with the Vancouver Games" in '10. People who watched the Olympics on digital devices "were more likely to watch the TV coverage too" (L.A. TIMES, 2/13). VARIETY's Rick Kissell wrote NBC's overall average primetime viewership of 25.9 million through Tuesday is an "impressive feat given that much more of the action from Canada was live -- and well ahead of Torino" in '06. Wurtzel said of the time difference, "For most viewers, it just doesn’t matter. The headline of this Olympics is that our multi-platform and network strategy has clearly resonated." Kissel wrote the decision to telecast 12 hours of live coverage on NBCSN has "resulted in record ratings for the cabler”(, 2/12).

WELCOME TO THE FUTURE: Wurtzel said, "Cross platform viewing is really what the future is going to be." Wurtzel said that initial stats from this year's Winter Games coverage showed that the majority of viewers "are watching them on TV and on other devices simultaneously." Wurtzel noted the digital growth and credited “users' increased ease with authentication." CABLEFAX DAILY notes other findings include the smart phone "is the device that people use most often, followed by tabelts and PC/laptops" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 2/13).

Despite U.S. snowboarder Shaun White missing out on a medal in the halfpipe on Tuesday, his appearance during NBC’s primetime coverage gave the net a big boost over the same nights during both the ’10 Vancouver and ’06 Turin Games. NBC earned a 13.7 fast-national rating and 23.7 million viewers from 8:00-11:03pm ET on Tuesday, up 12% and 17%, respectively, from the same night in ’10. Along with coverage of White, NBC also aired Gold Medal finals for women’s luge singles and women’s ski jumping, as well as the figure skating pairs’ short program. Coverage on Tuesday was up 21% and 29%, respectively, from a 11.3 rating and 18.4 million viewers for the same night during Turin in ’06. Tuesday night also helped NBC’s five-night average draw close to the average seen during Vancouver. The net is averaging a 14.4 rating in primetime, just short of the 14.5 at the same point in ’10, and up 13% from the 12.7 average rating seen in ’06.

WE’RE GOING STREAKING! NBCSN continues its strong performance during the Sochi Games with another record daytime audience. Coverage on Tuesday from 6:00am-3:00pm averaged 1.1 million viewers, marking a new record for the net during that time period, topping the record set on Monday. NBCSN also had set records during Sunday’s and Saturday’s coverage.

TWIN PEAKS: It has been a neck-and-neck race between the Minneapolis-St. Paul and Salt Lake City markets as to who wins the race for highest-rated market during NBC’s primetime Olympic coverage. Through five nights, the Twin Cities have won three times, with Salt Lake City winning twice. Minneapolis-St. Paul is averaging a 22.5 local rating, while Salt Lake City has a 22.3 rating. Rounding out the top five markets are Denver (20.2), Milwaukee (19.5) and Ft. Myers-Naples (18.6) (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

NO COSTAS, NO PROBLEM: NBC today announced that Bob Costas will miss his third consecutive night of coverage tonight due to an ongoing eye infection (Mult., 2/13). NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus said of the buzz generated from Costas' absence, "I am not surprised it has got this much attention. Bob is America’s Olympic host. They’ve come to expect him being here. When he’s not, it’s a story. We’re taking it day-by-day, and we hope that Bob will be back in the chair soon" (VARIETY, 2/13). Lazarus said that Costas "was being treated by Russian doctors" (L.A. TIMES, 2/13). Meanwhile, USA TODAY’s Robert Bianco reviews Matt Lauer’s performance as the substitute host of NBC’s primetime broadcast and writes he has been “fine: A dependably professional presence both alone and when bantering with Mary Carillo or Cris Collinsworth.” Lauer is “not a sportscaster, but he's spent years taking the ‘Today’ show to the Olympics, so he's familiar with the sports and many of its athletes.” Costas is “irreplaceable, which is why, wisely, Lauer did not try to replace him.” The approach he took in his introduction Tuesday was “that of a friend stepping in to help an ailing co-worker.” If viewers are upset at Lauer’s presence, it is due to “two problems Lauer can't fix: He comes with ‘Today’ baggage attached, and he's not Costas.” Bianco: “When it comes to Olympics, Costas is simply the best in the business, a likable personality, totally at ease in the job, who links a dry, self-deprecating wit to a depth of knowledge and a retained sense of wonder” (USA TODAY, 2/13). In L.A., Mary McNamara writes, "Lauer brought his trademark boyish insouciance to his debut; though he did wear socks, he was not, by gosh, going to shave" (L.A. TIMES, 2/13).

WOMEN'S DAY: The AP’s David Bauder wrote yesterday’s Canada-U.S. women’s hockey game was a “delight all around.” It was “tense and well-played,” and the announce crew on NBCSN “performed, too.” Play-by-play announcer Mike Emrick “should never be taken for granted,” as his “ability to anticipate moves, to convey information without crowding the airwaves and to build excitement is unparalleled.” Bauder: “He clearly loves hockey, but doesn’t treat it as a private club no one but devotees can enter” (AP, 2/12).

NBC's "Today" show audience "got trounced" by ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday, marking what could be the "first time 'Today' was beaten in the overall ratings during an Olympics," according to Claire Atkinson of the N.Y. POST. "GMA" coverage had 6.2 million viewers, which was 410,000 more than "Today." The first few days of the Sochi Games had helped "Today" win back its No. 1 position in the "advertiser-sought after demographic" of adults 25-54. But on Tuesday, "the two broadcasts were separated by just 90,000 viewers -- with NBC winning the demographic by a nose." The "Today" show has a "24-hour exclusive window with Olympic athletes, after which other networks can conduct interviews" (N.Y. POST, 2/13). VARIETY's Rick Kissell notes for the first four days of the Olympics, "Today" was beating 'GMA' on average in both total viewers (6.06 million to 5.98 million) and the adult 25-54 demo (2.55 million to 2.27 million). During the Vancouver Games, "it won over ABC by a whopping 1.6 million total viewers, including by 1.1 million viewers in the 25-54 demo." Compared to the "first Tuesday from Vancouver," viewership of "Today" was down 9% while "GMA" shot up by 40% (, 2/13).

USOC officials are "sounding out international officials in Sochi about a potential American bid for the games -- and the feedback is positive," according to Stephen Wilson of the AP. The USOC is "currently weighing a possible run" for the '24 Summer Games, and the '26 Winter Games also "would be an option" if '24 is ruled out. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said, "There's a recognition that the U.S. is an important market, and at some point in the future, the games should go back there." The U.S. last hosted the Summer Games in '96 (Atlanta) and the Winter Games in '02 (Salt Lake City), and Wilson noted the IOC "may be eager to encourage another bid from the U.S. because it would bring a high-profile player into the race and boost interest in the Olympics." But "whether IOC members want the U.S. to win is another matter." The USOC has been "consulting with cities interested" in bidding for '24, including L.A., S.F., San Diego, Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia and DC. The USOC "hopes to make a decision by the end of this year." The IOC bid process "begins in 2015, with the host city to be selected in 2017." Blackmun "insisted the focus is solely on 2024." He said, "We're not currently engaged in a process of weighing summer vs. winter. We're engaged in a process of looking at what our options would be for a summer bid and assessing the viability of a summer bid" (AP, 2/12).

Agent Steve Astephen says sponsors are showing interest in Sage Kotsenburg
U.S. snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg, who won Gold in the Olympic debut of slopestyle snowboarding on Saturday, could “possibly appear on a Wheaties cereal box this spring,” according to Michael McCarthy of AD AGE. WMG President of Action Sports & Olympics Steve Astephen, who reps Kotsenburg, said that the phone has been “ringing with sponsors intrigued” by his client. The agency has “already approached General Mills, maker of Wheaties, and Olympic sponsor Procter & Gamble.” Snowboarder Shaun White and skier Lindsey Vonn appeared on Wheaties boxes “after they won gold” at the ’10 Vancouver Games. General Mills is not a USOC sponsor, but the Olympic marketing blackout “for non-sponsors ends on Feb. 26, three days after the Closing Ceremony.” Nike sponsors Kotsenburg, and Astephen believes the company will “end up running ad campaigns celebrating his success.” Astephen also thinks due to Kotsenburg’s “youth, good looks and fun-loving personality … the sky’s the limit for more long-term sponsorship deals.” Astephen: “He’s got that laid-back, funny atmosphere to him. He’s a special kid. He’s going to have a lot of fun.” Baker Street Advertising Senior VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman said that Kotsenburg and fellow U.S. snowboarder Jamie Anderson, who won the women’s slopestyle, are “two of the most marketable athletes so far” from the Sochi Games (, 2/12).

The COC this week reportedly "raised concerns that the Budweiser Red Light campaign suggests an association between the Olympic movement and the beer made by Labatt Brewing Co. Ltd., which is not an Olympic sponsor," according to Ashante Infantry of the TORONTO STAR. The Red Light promotion debuted on Super Bowl Sunday with "an ad depicting hockey fans at a Moscow bar watching a game in which Team Canada triumphs over Russia." Featuring a "roving blimp", which arrives in Toronto today, the commercial’s tag line "'Let the goals begin' could be read as a play on 'Let the Games begin.'" Labatt Marketing Dir Kyle Norrington in an e-mail wrote, "We have gone out of our way to make it clear that Budweiser Red Lights are not related to any one league or event." Infantry notes the COC’s official beer sponsor is Molson Coors Brewing Co., which is "getting Olympic traction with its beer fridge campaign." Molson Coors Senior Manager of Corporate Affairs Forest Kenney said that the brewer "isn’t going to be ruffled by a competitor’s 'noise,'" but added that some Canadians “might be surprised to learn that Labatt’s parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev sponsors American Olympians." Kenney said, "If you were to interview people on the street and ask them if they were going to support the brand that’s actually giving money back to the COC or the one that’s giving money to the U.S. Olympic Committee, it’s going to make a really easy choice for them." He added, "We don’t try and build our brands on the back of someone else" (TORONTO STAR, 2/13).

Each day during the Winter Games, THE DAILY offers our take on the business performances of some of the people, sponsors, broadcasters and other entities around Sochi.

GOLD: BMW -- The automaker's program with the U.S. bobsledding team is a textbook case of a win-win sponsorship. USA Bobsled has certainly benefitted from the faster sleds that BMW helped design, while BMW has utilized smart marketing to promote that relationship and its brand.

SILVER: U.S. FREESKIING -- The men's freeskiing team dominated the slopestyle competition, becoming the first U.S. team to win Gold, Silver and Bronze since '02. Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper threw down big runs and went a long way to boost Team USA's medal count, which had been lagging up until today.


BRONZE: DOW CHEMICAL -- The Michigan-based company has sponsored USA Luge since '07 and contributed some of its technology and expertise to the redesigned sled that Erin Hamlin rode to Bronze on Tuesday. Its efforts were critical to Team USA's first individual medal in luge ever.

TIN: SOCHI MEGASTORE -- From the outside, the megastore looks every bit as big as London's. It is a huge building with long lines that can take more than an hour to get through. But the interior is half the size of the exterior, which is why lines are long. Plus, it is laid out in a way that would drive a retail consultant crazy. T-shirts, a staple at most Olympics, line a wall at checkout and are not even on display. That has not seemed to hurt sales too much, which topped $600,000 on the first day it was open, but it no doubt has not helped them, either.

SportsBusiness Daily/Journal have converted their On The Ground blog into a comprehensive, daily website devoted to the Sochi Games and the business behind it. The site is free and runs through Monday, Feb. 24, the day after the Closing Ceremony. The site also can be accessed through the On The Ground link on SBJ Olympics writer Tripp Mickle is in Sochi providing news updates, people profiles and personal insights from the Games. Entries currently on the blog include:

Sochi Games help McDonald's expand business in Russia

* USA Hockey signs three new deals, boosts revenue to $2.75M

* Japanese company Airweave signs USOC sponsorship

* Catching Up With: Dermot Boden, Citi's chief brand officer

* TV Review: NHL Network debuts show devoted to Sochi Games