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Volume 25 No. 63

Olympics

A Korean television station gave Kim the kind of extensive coverage usually reserved for home athletes
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Chloe Kim will "need to be added to the list" of household names at the Pyeongchang Games after the teenage U.S. snowboarder claimed Gold today in the women's halfpipe, according to Chris Almeida of THE RINGER. Kim is a "bonafide headliner" as well as a "promoter’s dream." She is a "smiley 17-year-old who tweets lame jokes and makes cracks about breakfast sandwiches during Olympic competition, a profile that will surely go over well on the post-Pyeongchang talk-show circuit." Kim’s dominance in the halfpipe "made the rest of the competition a rather dull affair." However, the "total evisceration of competition is how an individual transcends the sport." It is how the best Olympic athletes "become more than once-in-four-years faces on a promo for NBC," and Kim is "now on the Phelpsian path." Her face will be "everywhere" leading up to the '22 Beijing Games (THERINGER.com, 2/12). In DC, Adam Kilgore notes the "coronation of a new American Olympic darling occurred" with Kim's win, and she is "destined to become an even bigger star than she already is." Kim’s athletic "charisma and jaw-dropping talent" makes her appealing to the public, and even to a "broad audience with scant snowboarding knowledge, her surpassing ability is obvious" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/13). SI.com's Michael Rosenberg writes under the headline, "With An Endearing Personality And Unmatched Talent, Chloe Kim Emerges As The Star Of The Winter Olympics" (SI.com, 2/13). NBC's Todd Richards said, “If you don’t know who Chloe Kim is, I have a feeling you will be hearing that name a lot after this Winter Games” (“Winter Olympics,” NBC, 2/13).

YOU'RE A SHINING STAR: The AP's Will Graves noted Kim's win pushes her to a "level of stardom she's not quite sure she's prepared for" (AP, 2/12). The "next stop for Kim is a higher stratosphere of celebrity." She seems "certain to become the big name and face to emerge from these Olympics" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/13). With her Gold Medal, Kim's fame "will surely only soar higher into the stratosphere" (ABC.net.au, 2/13). Kim is now the "queen of snowboarding and, really, of these Olympics" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/13). She is the "marketing department's dream as the appealing face of these Games" (THETIMES.co.uk, 2/13). Kim "figures to become a breakout star in Pyeongchang" (L.A. TIMES, 2/13). USA TODAY's She "went from snowboarder to superstar" with the win (USA TODAY, 2/13). The "next great American Olympian has officially arrived" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/13). 

KOREAN APPEAL: Kim was born to Korean immigrants, and in Salt Lake City, Christopher Kamrani notes this technically is an "American gold," but it is "also for the Korean people." Local media in South Korea "runs Kim clips on TV news broadcasts daily." She had been "marketed heavily by NBC entering these Games," but the world last night "finally got to know" Kim (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 2/13). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Costa & Bachman note a Korean television station gave Kim the "kind of extensive coverage usually reserved for home athletes." Though the stands at Phoenix Snow Park "were not entirely filled, there was broad support for Kim from both Americans and Koreans in attendance" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/13). ESPN THE MAGAZINE's Alyssa Roenigk in a cover story notes Kim's father "believes her Korean marketing potential could reach the millions -- not to mention her haul back home." Seoul-based SEMA Sports Marketing agent Hwang Hyeran, who reps Kim, said, "Chloe can be really famous in Korea. There is much interest in her and much potential for her to have Korean sponsors" (ESPN THE MAGAZINE, 2/19 issue).

CREAM OF THE CROP: CNBC's Carl Quintanilla notes social media, "with all its perils, still provides an avenue for companies to approach the athletes." Kim in between her halfpipe runs tweeted she was hungry for ice cream and churros. That led to Ben & Jerry's and Oreo directly "coming to her." Quintanilla said of Ben & Jerry's, "You can imagine how much they would love to create a custom flavor for Chloe Kim" ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 2/13). Quintanilla earlier this morning read a list of Kim’s sponsors and noted she is “working with some of the biggest companies in the world" at just 17 years old. He said, "There’s a good chance she’s going to have a lot success outside of the sport having won this Gold so early on. ... Corporate American is going to be searching for some involvement with Chloe Kim” ("Squawk Box,' CNBC, 2/13).

BOOST TO SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS: USA TODAY notes Kim had "just over 15,000 followers on Twitter before her first run." After she was done, she had "gained more than 100,000 and her numbers continue to climb." Twitter Communications Coordinator Brenden Lee said that between 8:00-11:00pm ET last night, as NBC "aired her performance live, Kim was mentioned more than 150,000 times on the social media site." Kim has 330,000 followers on Instagram "and rising" (USATODAY.com, 2/13). ESPN's Mike Golic said, "This is sort of how starved we are for personality from athletes and someone being forthright. ... She gained over 70,000 followers last night just by tweeting about churros" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 2/13).

U.S. snowboarder Chloe Kim "soared and spun" to a win in the women's halfpipe last night while "carrying both the weight of lofty expectations and NBC's Monday primetime telecast on her back," according to Phil Rosenthal of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Kim "served up exactly what NBC needed" with her win. Had Kim "failed to deliver," NBC execs could have been feeling anxious, especially while "still waiting to see how much-promoted Mikaela Shiffrin and ... Lindsey Vonn do when they finally hit the slopes" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 2/13). NBC's "Today" was heavily focused on Kim this morning, with the intro to the broadcast airing highlights of her performance with the header, "Face of a Champion." NBC's Savannah Guthrie said there is "one member of Team USA that everybody is talking about this morning." Kim joined Guthrie and NBC's Hoda Kotb live on the set about 30 minutes into the broadcast, saying, "It really hasn't sunk in yet. I don't know where I am or what I'm doing here." Kim made a second on-set appearance at the start of the 8:00am hour, where she was given some of her favorite foods after tweeting she was hungry in between her competitive runs ("Today," NBC, 2/13). 

Skating’s timetable switch has forced competitors to reassess their sleeping and training habits
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

CHANGING YOUR INTERNAL CLOCK: In N.Y., Jere Longman notes the Pyeongchang figure skating competitions usually begins locally at 10:00am, to "accommodate NBC’s live broadcast to a prime-time audience" at 8:00pm ET. That has "forced competitors to reassess their sleeping and training habits." Skating’s timetable switch from evening to morning and the early starts "seemed to have contributed in undermining some of the initial performances at the Games." The Olympic arena has been "half-empty when the competition begins midmorning." The energy level "appeared particularly low on Friday as the team event began." But the general response among skaters and coaches has been to "acknowledge that while the start times are not ideal, they should not be used as an excuse for rickety performances" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/13). The AP's Dave Skretta noted figure skating has "long been among the most popular Winter Olympic sports in the United States," so the decision to feature the events in primetime "should be great" for NBC and U.S. fans, though "not so great for the skaters." German figure skater Bruno Massot: "It is always more difficult when you have an early practice and then the competition takes place two hours later. Maybe that schedule is good for the TV but not for the athletes" (AP, 2/10).

THE HYPE MACHINE IN FULL FORCE: The CHICAGO TRIBUNE's Rosenthal notes Shiffrin’s bid to "compete in as many as five individual Alpine events, with an eye on winning three or more, has been one of NBC’s favorite storylines" so far. It also has been "embraced by sponsors such as Xfinity and Visa." However, would it "hurt anyone to dial it back just a bit, at least until she wins something?" The all-out blitz "risks overkill in the meantime" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/13). Meanwhile, the "solid 45 minutes NBC spent hyping an upcoming qualifying run" by Shaun White last night "left us wondering if there wasn't a better use of the time" (AP, 2/12).

FINDING A SPARK: The AP's David Bauder writes NBC skiing analyst Bode Miller "knows his stuff," but he is a "rookie announcer, and it shows." He delivers "much of the information in a passion-free monotone, and hasn't learned the virtue of strategic silence." Miller and announcer Dan Hicks "delivered a torrent of words" in the primetime coverage of the men's combined event, with "not enough sense of a story." Maybe it was "because medals weren't being decided in the portion of the race NBC aired" in primetime, but their segment "lacked spark" (AP, 2/13).

AD GAME: ADWEEK's Chris Ariens noted NBC's "Today" is "incorporating sponsored content into the morning newscast" during the Games. NBC's Al Roker yesterday "read what appeared to be a news story about Intel using 1,200 drones in a choreographed display during the Opening Ceremony Friday." He then "began reading marketing copy about NBC’s use of virtual reality during the Games." The integration was "actually part of Intel’s sponsorship deal with NBC Olympics." There was "supposed to be a graphic that indicated this was sponsored content, but due to a 'technical error' it didn’t show up." It was "fixed for the later feeds" (ADWEEK.com, 2/12).

With more primetime offerings available via cable and streaming during the Pyeongchang Games, NBC is seeing significant lift to its broadcast TV number from those options. During Sunday night's coverage, which featured the figure skating team event, among others, NBC Sports drew a total audience delivery of 26.0 million viewers across all platforms, which is the number the network has used to sell ads during these Games. The traditional NBC broadcast, which saw all skiing competitions cancelled due to high winds in Korea, accounted for 22.7 million viewers of that figure, with cable and digital providing a 15% bump (up from a 13% bump on Saturday and an 8% bump on Thursday). NBCSN on its own averaged 3.0 million viewers on Sunday night, which marked the net's best audience in that window since a NASCAR Cup Series race in '15 at Bristol. Coverage on NBCSN included U.S. skier Jamie Anderson winning a Gold Medal in the women's slopestyle event, as well as mixed doubles curling and men's biathlon. NBC Sports Digital properties posted an average minute audience of 309,000 viewers, which is the company's best primetime figure for Pyeongchang to date. While the combination of broadcast, cable and digital figures may be more reflective of current consumption methods, NBC Sports' figure on Sunday night was still its lowest audience for the first Sunday of Winter Games competition since Turin in '06. The Sunday total audience delivery was just a few hundred thousand viewers below the same window in Sochi four years ago and Vancouver eight years ago. Meanwhile, Salt Lake City on Sunday was the top primetime market for NBC's coverage for the fourth night in a row (25.9 local rating). Denver was No. 2 at a 24.5 rating, while Milwaukee was No. 3 at a 23.9. Minneapolis-St. Paul, which led all markets four years ago, ranked No. 9 on Sunday with a 20.7 (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). ADWEEK's A.J. Katz wrote NBC execs will "likely be content" with the audience figures for the first weekend of the Pyeongchang Games. Primetime viewership has "moved closer" to Sochi on a night-to-night basis with the total audience delivery number (ADWEEK.com, 2/12).

WINTER OLYMPICS PRIMETIME VIEWERSHIP FOR NBC
NIGHT
DAY
TURIN ('06)
VANCOUVER ('10)
SOCHI ('14)
PYEONGCHANG* ('18)
Bonus
Thurs.
n/a
n/a
20,016
17,200
Opening
Ceremony**
Fri.
22,200
32,641
31,690
28,300
2
Sat.
23,239
26,189
25,115
24,200
3
Sun.
23,244
26,372
26,323
26,000
NOTES: * = TAD number includes broadcast, cable and digital viewing in primetime. ** = Pyeongchang was first time Opening Ceremony was streamed live (hours before NBC telecast).
Download the
NBC Winter Olympics Viewership Trend
Snowboarders weren’t happy about FIS' decision and were quick to voice their frustrations
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Int' Ski Federation (FIS) has "dismissed the concerns of snowboarders who complained about treacherous conditions at the women’s slopestyle by telling them that 'nobody was forced to go down and compete,'" according to Sean Ingle of the GUARDIAN. A number of snowboarders "expressed their anger at the FIS’s decision to allow the event to go ahead in 30mph crosswinds" yesterday. FIS Communications Manager Jenny Wiedeke insisted that "while conditions were tough they were also safe." Ingle notes there were only "nine clean runs out of 52 in total with riders falling, face-planting or pulling up because they couldn’t build enough speed" (GUARDIAN, 2/13). YAHOO SPORTS' Ryan Young notes many snowboarders "weren’t happy" about the decision and were "quick to voice their frustrations." Norwegian snowboarder Silje Norendal, who finished fourth, said, "When it’s alpine, they have a higher status. And they really want a good show. I feel like we’re definitely coming in second. We can actually get super hurt. And it’s just really unfair. It’s such a young sport. It’s just sad that we all feel sometimes that we’re coming in second." Canadian snowboarder Spencer O'Brien: "There was no riders’ meeting to discuss options or to see if the majority wanted to ride or didn’t want to ride. We just got told we had to go" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/13). Austrian snowboarder Anna Gasser, who fell on both her runs after being the pre-event favorite, added, "It should have been postponed. We tried to speak to officials but the Olympics put us under pressure to do it today. It’s a little funny that they can move the downhill five days and they pressure us into riding in these conditions" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 2/13).

MONEY RULES EVERYTHING: YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan wrote the event "should not have run Monday," but the competitors' "well-being was sacrificed to the altar of the television networks that pay billions of dollars to program the Olympics." A "hole tore open in NBC's primetime programming" with the cancellation of the giant slalom, and both rounds of slopestyle "filled it, if not quite ably." FIS never bothered to go into the snowboarders’ tent and "solicit the opinion of the women without whom there would be no television program because doing so would’ve disrupted the power dynamic that gives FIS leverage to impose itself" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/12).

Gerard was scheduled to leave Korea for a series of television appearances in L.A. and N.Y this week
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

U.S. snowboarder Red Gerard "could become one of the more recognizable American athletes" coming out of the Pyeongchang Games after his Gold Medal-win in the snowboard slopestyle, but a "lifetime of Olympic glory may not be" for him, according to Brian Costa of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Performing tricks "for digital snowboard films ... has become increasingly lucrative and attractive for many riders." Sage Kotsenburg, who won Gold in the slopestyle event at the '14 Sochi Games, now "makes a living" appearing in these videos, and Gerard has "already shot two such films himself." Most Olympic snowboarders outside of Shaun White do not land "lucrative endorsement deals." However, the "evolution of digital media has enabled many snowboarders to essentially become online video stars." Gerard could "have his fun and earn enough of a living making films and still maintain enough of a competitive schedule to return to the Olympics." Evolution Management & Marketing's Ryan Runke, who reps Gerard, said that his client likely will try to balance both "for at least another four or five years." Runke noted that making the videos does not provide the "sort of mainstream exposure and sponsor interest that an Olympic gold medal does." Costa noted Gerard was "scheduled to leave Korea for a series of television appearances and photo shoots" in L.A. and N.Y this week before "returning to compete in the Olympic big air contest" next week (WSJ.com, 2/13).

PLAYING THE WAITING GAME: FOX BUSINESS' Thomas Barrabi notes it "could be years" before Gerard's "newfound fame translates into a major boost for his wallet." Given the "niche popularity of winter sports and the four-year Olympic cycle, Gerard will need to build on his gold medal-winning campaign to earn the crossover stardom" that White has achieved. Univ. of North Carolina marketing professor Jonathan Jensen said, “There was a time when one gold medal could solidify an athlete financially from an endorsement perspective, but I don’t think that is the case any longer. It’s so difficult to break through the clutter today." Barrabi notes U.S. winter sports athletes historically have "seldom achieved mainstream marketing success," with White and skier Lindsey Vonn serving as the "rare exceptions." While Gerard is "just gaining mainstream America’s attention," he came to Pyeongchang with a "strong group of corporate sponsors that includes" Mountain Dew, Oakley, Comcast, Ice Breakers and Burton snowboards (FOXBUSINESS.com, 2/13). Gerard when asked what his dream sponsor would be, said, "I would love to partner with Chipotle. I love eating there more than ever and I would be so honored to represent them" ("Closing Bell," CNBC, 2/12).

FOLLOW ME: In Colorado, Antonio Olivero noted Gerard gained approximately 91,000 Instagram followers in the 24 hours "after he won the snowboard slopestyle gold medal." Gerard said that entering the contest he had "around 50,000 followers, and by early Sunday evening" that number "crept up to 141,000" (ASPEN TIMES, 2/13).

Biney still has another chance to race in this year’s Olympics, in the 1500m event that begins Saturday
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee notes U.S. speedskater Maame Biney found herself "bumped and boxed out" in today's 500-meter quarterfinals, which led her to finishing fourth in a heat where only the top two advance. Had Biney medaled, she would have been "introducing a gold medal-branded Kellogg’s Corn Flakes on Thursday." Biney still has "another chance to race in this year’s Olympics, in the 1500m event that begins Saturday." But her prospects in that event "aren’t nearly as bright as they were in the 500" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/13).

TAKING OVER: YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Kaduk notes the small tiger stuffed animal "modeled after Pyeongchang mascot Sooharang has been a ubiquitous presence at these games, greeting all three medal winners with a pleasant smile after each event." The toys were "designed to replace" the flowers traditionally given to winners. The official site of the Games had plain dolls for sale for $23 and dolls "wearing traditional Korean dress for about four times that." However, they are now "all sold out" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/13).

GET EM' WHILE THEY'RE HOT: The KOREA HERALD's Cho Yun-myung notes sunglasses in the shape of Olympic rings are being "handed out each day at the Medals Plaza within the Pyeongchang Olympic Plaza." And the glasses have "gained mounting interest online." About 200 of them will be "given out every day during the Olympic Games period, but it’s first come, first served." The sunglasses are "not sold at official goods stores" of the Pyeongchang Games. This has led them to "sell out” within about 15 minutes by "early-bird visitors to the Medals Plaza" (KOREA HERALD, 2/13).

In South Korea, Bak Se-hwan notes dozens of Olympics staff who are "locked up at a remote youth training facility due to norovirus infection have blamed the organizers for the spread of the sickness in Gangwon Province, accusing them of 'irresponsible action.'" Five support staff said they had “heard from no one when they should get back to work or be released from quarantine.” The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that as of yesterday, a total of 194 cases of norovirus "were confirmed, including infections outside the facility." No athletes so far have tested positive "for the virus" (KOREA HERALD, 2/13).

SONG REQUESTS: The AP's Dave Skretta notes the Int'l Skating Union's "popular decision to allow lyrics in all performances" after the '14 Sochi Games has "expanded the breadth of what is available, and skaters have taken broad liberties with it." Figure skaters are performing to artists like Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Snow Patrol, Benjamin Clementine, Lorde, Christina Aguilera and Adele. German figure skater Paul Fentz during his short program last week "wound up doing Paul Anka's version of the Oasis hit 'Wonderwall'" (AP, 2/13).

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

GOLD: CHLOE KIM -- What are expectations and pressure to a 17-year-old? Kim, the heavy favorite, crushed it for Gold in the snowboard halfpipe, maintaining U.S. snowboard perfection and rewarding her deep list of sponsors. 

SILVER: 24 HOUR FITNESS -- There’s nothing new about an incentive program that brings top performers to big events. However, the USOC sponsor dipped below the C-suite to reward a Pyeongchang trip to managers of its top gyms, a nice twist to build moral at the hands-on level.

BRONZE: TARA LIPINSKI & JOHNNY WEIR -- Love ’em or hate ’em, we appreciate their honest assessment of some of the mediocre performances in the figure skating competition. As Weir himself pointed out, “I’m a commentator, not a ‘complimentator.’”

TININT'L SKI FEDERATION -- Forty-one of the 50 women in snowboard slopestyle either crashed or bailed out because of high winds. It was the governing body’s call to hold the event in such harsh conditions. The criticism it’s receiving for that decision is warranted.

Neal Pilson was president of CBS Sports during the '94 Lillehammer Games, the highest rated Olympic Games on record. Those Games were made famous by the figure skating competition between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. CBS pulled an astounding 48.5 rating during the first night of competition between the two -- TV numbers that rivaled Super Bowl ratings at the time. Pilson joined the SBJ/SBD Media Podcast to offer his memories of Tonya and Nancy, share his thoughts on the film “I, Tonya” and give a few predictions about how the Olympics in '32 will look.

 

Take a look back at some recent SBJ/SBD Media Podcasts: