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Volume 25 No. 63

Olympics

White at the base of the halfpipe after his final run wiped away tears and took selfies with fans
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

U.S. snowboarder Shaun White today won his third Gold Medal in the men's halfpipe event, but "details of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by a former female bandmate" have made "renewed appearances in the headlines," according to Tara Sullivan of the BOSTON GLOBE. White following his latest Olympic win was "eventually asked about the allegations ... and he tried to silence an issue he years ago settled out of court by calling it gossip." White said, “I’m here talk about the Olympics, not gossip.” A followup question was then "cut off " by a media rep. White has admitted to sending "sexually explicit text messages and pictures" to the woman who accused him of sexual harrasment, but has called the "entire exchange a consensual joke" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/14). ABC's Amy Robach notes she and "several other women raised our hand to have a question" at White's press conference, but "only men were called on." ABC's Matt Gutman said White "should have expected that that question (about the lawsuit) would come." Gutman: "He probably did expect it, yet when I asked him about those sexual misconduct allegations, he seemed to be caught off-guard." USA Today's Christine Brennan said, "I understand that he would rather not talk about this, but I don't know that he gets to make that call" ("GMA," ABC, 2/14). White appeared on NBC's "Today" this morning and apologized for using a "poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today" ("Today," NBC, 2/14).

PART OF THE WHOLE PACKAGE: YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan writes as the fallout of the #MeToo movement "reverberates across America, cases such as White’s can confuse those who want to appreciate achievement and yet find themselves abhorred by the behavior of those who achieve." However, to act like the Pyeongchang Games "exist in a vacuum is hubristic, and to separate action and actor is impossible." The Olympics and White are "part of a greater world, one in which norms are changing and a culture that once allowed mistreatment of women is no longer acceptable" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/14). USA TODAY's Martin Rogers writes White is "still a gold medalist of course, but being anointed as the greatest requires special factors beyond the arena of performance." The allegations are a "part of his story now, and will remain so" (USATODAY.com, 2/14). ESPN's Mike Golic Jr. said it was "weird to see the dichotomy" between the two sides of White -- Olympic star and alleged harasser -- and it "made me uncomfortable." Golic: "You want to see the accomplishment and understand what it means for the Olympics. But you see the way it was dismissed in the press conference by him and the U.S. Snowboarding PR person, and you can't help but feel uncomfortable" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 2/14).

FOCUS ON OLYMPIC LEGACY: In Salt Lake City, Aaron Falk writes White "cemented his already impressive Olympic legacy with his third gold medal." White at the base of the halfpipe after his final run "wiped away tears, took selfies with fans" and draped himself in an American flag. White then said that he was "already thinking about his next trip to the Olympics and an opportunity to add to his legacy: a chance to win a skateboarding medal" in the '20 Tokyo Games (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 2/14). The AP's Will Graves noted White's win made him the "first American male to win gold at three separate Winter Olympics." The Gold Medal was also the "100th overall gold for the United States in the Winter Games" (AP, 2/13).

FACE OF A REVOLUTION: In California, Scott Reid writes it was "fitting the Team USA’s 100th Winter Olympics gold medal was won by the athlete who more than any other pushed the Games into the 21st Century." White is the athlete who "most personified what has been called the Californication of the Winter Olympics, the push toward X Games style sports in hopes of higher ratings among a younger demographic." He is the "rare non-skating Winter Olympian to reach household name status" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/14). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Brian Costa notes snowboarding has been part of the Winter Games since '98, but "even as the sport moved from its counterculture roots into the mainstream, it didn’t have a crossover star." White "changed that." His Gold Medal at the '06 Turin Games "started a run that would make him one of America’s most recognizable Olympians." He became as much a "commercial success as an athletic one." His array of sponsors and entrepreneurial ventures "helped make him in some ways bigger than the sport itself" (WSJ.com, 2/14).

NBC was credited for not having its announcers infringe upon the tension during White's competition
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

U.S. snowboarder Shaun White's "pressure-filled performance" in today's men's halfpipe event, in which he claimed the Gold Medal, "likely will be the most-remembered moment of the Pyeongchang Games for an American television audience," according to David Bauder of the AP.  NBC "seized that moment, mostly by letting it breathe." The camera "focused on White as he psyched himself up for his performance and, afterward, as he waited for the score -- creating exquisite tension" that NBC's Todd Harris and Todd Richards "didn't intrude upon." White's "tear-filled hugs with his parents were heart-melting." NBC should have been "better prepared for the F-bombs, and not abruptly cut away to figure skating during the celebration, but those were small faults." It was a "broadcast to savor" (AP, 2/14). The N.Y. Times' Christopher Clarey wrote on Twitter, "Kudos to NBC for letting that golden White moment unfold without overproduction or much commentary at all. Sensed the tension. Experienced the emotion. Less was more." Bloodhorse's Jeremy Balan wrote, "Great broadcasting by NBC ahead and after the Shaun White final run to let the moment breathe and let the audience take in the silence and tension, rather than having the commentators talk over it." But the Philadelphia Inquirer's Mike Jensen wrote, "Tip to NBC: When famous guy you've been showing all night wins gold, is bawling his eyes out, don't cut to canned feature. You're welcome."

NBC SHAPING THE NARRATIVE: SLATE's Levin & Peters write the past two nights, NBC "didn't show its viewers a snowboarding contest." Instead, it "broadcast the Shaun White show, directing all its star-making apparatus towards the promotion of White as a singular talent" for whom the Pyeongchang Games were the "final act in a clichéd redemption arc." By focusing so intently on White, and by "peddling the fiction that White’s toughest competitor was himself, the network undersold what will surely be one of the most dramatic, tightly contested events in Pyeongchang." Meanwhile, NBC "studiously avoided mentioning White’s unpopularity with his fellow snowboarders, or the sexual harassment lawsuit he settled last year, or anything else that might dispel the hero myth the network had spent so much time and money crafting." The net's coverage shows it is "incapable of acknowledging that the greatest athletes can sometimes be the biggest jerks" (SLATE.com, 2/14). THE DAILY BEAST's Amy Zimmerman noted it "makes sense that NBC would invest heavily in the Shaun White story; the only thing that makes a proven winner more compelling is a comeback." It is also in NBC’s interests "to slalom around this potential scandal" (THEDAILYBEAST.com, 2/13). Lawrance Bohm, the attorney for the female drummer in White's band that sued for sexual harassment, said that he hopes NBC will "eventually recognize the allegations" (N.Y. POST, 2/14).

WHITE DOESN'T ADD MUCH: White appeared on NBC's "Today" following his win, and his interview with Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb was punctuated with questions about the sexual harassment lawsuit, which was settled last May. Guthrie said, "I don't have to tell you not all the headlines today have been positive." White said he was "truly sorry" he used the word "gossip" to "describe such a sensitive subject in the world today." He otherwise did not address the lawsuit, focusing instead to say how he is a "changed person" and "proud of who I am today" ("Today," NBC, 2/14).

NBC through Monday is averaging 23.8 million viewers for primetime coverage of the Pyeongchang Games across broadcast, cable and digital, down 6% from the same point four years ago in Sochi, when cable and streaming were not part of the measurement. The Pyeongchang total audience delivery also is down 15% from Vancouver eight years ago, when much of the coverage was live in primetime. NBC alone is averaging 21.8 million viewers in primetime to date, clearly making up the overwhelming majority of NBC Sports’ Olympic viewing audience. But cable and streaming continue to give NBC a double-digit percentage lift in primetime. On Monday, NBC alone averaged 20.3 million viewers from 8:00-11:24pm ET, but digital and NBCSN coverage gave a 10% bump to that figure for a total audience delivery of 22.3 million viewers. Monday night’s coverage featured U.S. snowboarder Chloe Kim taking home her first Gold Medal. Coverage on NBC and NBCSN peaked from 9:15-9:30pm on Monday as Kim was making her final run. Meanwhile, for the first time during the Pyeongchang Games, Denver led all markets with a 25.7 local rating across NBC and NBCSN (25.7 local rating). Salt Lake City, which finished second on Monday with a 23.0 rating, had taken the top spot each of the first four nights (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

WINTER OLYMPICS PRIMETIME VIEWERSHIP ON NBC
NIGHT
DAY
TURIN ('06)
VANCOUVER ('10)
SOCHI ('14)
PYEONGCHANG ('18)
TAD* ('18)
1
Thurs.
n/a
n/a
20,016
15,995
17,249
Opening
Ceremony**
Fri.
22,200
32,641
31,690
27,837
28,286
3
Sat.
23,239
26,189
25,115
21,394
24,159
4
Sun.
23,244
26,372
26,323
22,676
26,201
5
Mon.
21,069
25,224
22,395
20,295
22,341
AVG.
22,436
27,864
25,366
21,777
23,800
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 Olympic Viewership

WHAT MAKES A VIEWER? In N.Y., Draper & Maheshwari write the total audience delivery number being touted by NBC in its ratings releases for Pyeongchang is a "standard of its own making." It is the "latest attempt at a valid head count in an industry where no one seems to be able to measure the crowd." Viewers are "spread too far and wide, no longer huddled around the TV." NBC used TAD during the Rio Games two years ago, but this is the "first time it has sold advertising based on it." NBCU Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Dan Lovinger said, "Advertisers now recognize that a viewer is a viewer." He eschewed the idea that there is a "fundamental difference between television and digital viewers." NBCU Chair of Ad Sales & Client Partnerships Linda Yaccarino has been a vocal critic of Nielsen in recent years, believing that the measurement company’s methods "don’t accurately count all the new ways people are watching its shows." While NBC "sees a strong need for better measurement of non-television viewers, especially in sports, it won’t necessarily be rolling out TAD across the NBC universe." The Olympics are "unique property, with thousands of hours of programming playing out on broadcast and cable channels, unlike a hit drama like 'This Is Us'." But while broadcasters "need to capture every viewer possible and figure out how to count them," they "aren’t yet in agreement on how to do that." ESPN Senior VP/Fan & Media Intelligence Cary Meyers, whose network is working directly with Nielsen on a live-audience metric that would be a different version of TAD, said, "In order for the industry to move forward, we have to coalesce around a single-source approach." TV data firm Simulmedia Founder & CEO Dave Morgan said that while it was "smart of NBC to push its own metric for the Games, it is also the right move for Nielsen to proceed carefully as it develops an industry standard for tracking viewers across a 'dizzying array' of consumer devices in the digital world" (NYTIMES.com, 2/14).

While viewership for the Pyeongchang Games are down from four years ago, the audience figures have been higher than NBC "had anticipated when it began negotiating with advertisers looking to buy time in the 18-night spectacle," resulting in the ad sales team having "some bonus available inventory on its hands," according to Anthony Crupi of AD AGE. NBC Broadcasting & Sports Chair Mark Lazarus said the Olympics ratings "increased our capacity in ways we did not expect." The net as a result is "freeing up some of the commercial time it had held back as a hedge against possible makegoods." Lazarus said that NBC has "'a few million dollars' worth of inventory it had salted aside for makegoods that it can now sell to 'advertisers who came in with smaller buys and who want to buy up' or, perhaps, newcomers who approached the PyeongChang Games with a wait-and-see attitude." Media buyers who bought time against NBC's Total Audience Delivery metric confirmed that the network's current numbers are "landing right in the sweet spot of its guarantees." The expectations of those who "bought into the complete TAD package far outweigh that of the early birds who negotiated against guaranteed household ratings." Lazarus said nearly 90% of Olympics advertisers "bought the entire suite of products" (ADAGE.com, 2/13). In L.A., Stephen Battaglio writes, "Television's age of lowered ratings expectations has come to the Winter Olympics." However, NBC execs "weren't in a panic" (L.A. TIMES, 2/14). 

IN A GOOD SPOT: VARIETY's Brian Steinberg noted while NBC acknowledged that viewership in primetime had fallen, "viewership in other dayparts is up." Lazarus said that the net "took erosion into account when devising advertiser guarantees, and established benchmarks accordingly." Lazarus: "If you look at the total media landscape, if you are down roughly 5% over a four-year period -- no one is doing as well as that in television. We are doing very well" (VARIETY.com, 2/13). Lazarus noted that Pyeongchang has "already surpassed the overall digital consumption of the Sochi games four years ago." Lazarus: "This turned out to be the most consumed Winter Games in history." Lazarus said while past Olympics have seen audience spikes for specific events, this year, “people are coming for the Olympics, and they’re staying at a relatively even level throughout the evening." He added, "People are coming for the Games, regardless of what the specific content is." ADWEEK's Jason Lynch noted that is a "promising development," given that some of the "biggest U.S. stars" in the Games -- including skiers Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin -- have yet to compete due to weather delays (ADWEEK.com, 2/13). Lazarus said that the Olympics "remain the biggest event on television with an audience that is double or triple that of the combined audience of the other networks during prime time" (PHILLY.com, 2/13).

Local authorities pushed an Emergency Alert to all cellphones in the area warning people to go indoors
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The strong winds around Pyeongchang are "becoming a serious problem" with the Games nearing its second week, as it has been "blowing for days, postponing, delaying and otherwise marring several ski events in the mountains," according to Cathal Kelly of the GLOBE & MAIL. Local authorities around midday local time today "pushed an 'Emergency Alert' to all cellphones in the area warning people to go indoors to avoid the weather." Alpine skiing events have been "badly disrupted," and the logistical issues are "becoming nervy." Alpine events are already scheduled to "run every day until the end of the Games," and many athletes were planning to "vacate rooms up in the mountains for teammates once they had completed their events" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/14). NPR's Hu & Chappell note the winds "reached up to 50 miles per hour," and as they "hurled snow and debris around ... the sky sometimes looked as if a turbulent ( and very dusty) storm cloud had descended upon the earth." The wind in Gangneung "blew apart a temporary tent and toppled a security scanner." A "moveable fence was also knocked over" (NPR.org, 2/14). In DC, Barry Svrluga writes the winds have "set off car alarms, impaled sand into skin, toppled concession stands and forced officials to shut down an entire cluster of venues -- sending everyone inside." The "serious stuff for the public, and not just the athletes, came on the day the women's slalom was canceled at Yongpyong Alpine Center." Fans "dutifully filed in, sat for more than an hour, then filed back out, mobbing buses down the hill" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/14).

EVEN BETTER THAN THE REAL THING? USA TODAY's Josh Peter noted the snow being used for the Games is "undeniably fake" despite the Jeongseon Alpine Center, like many venues in Pyeongchang, being covered "by what appears to be 100 percent real snow." Snow Machines Inc. Project Manager Ian Honey said the snow is "at least 98 percent (manmade)." Peter wrote even though the "heavy use of man-made snow may be a surprise to TV viewers and spectators, there's no coverup or raging controversy here." Honey said that the '14 Sochi Games "depended on snow that was 80 percent man-made." It appears Pyeongchang "lacks natural snowfall to host a Winter Olympics without substantial help from technology." Less than an inch of "natural snow was on the ground when the athletes arrived" (USATODAY.com, 2/13).

Kim was working with brands including Nabisco, Toyota and Visa before the Games started
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Gold Medal-winning U.S. snowboarder Chloe Kim "almost seems tailor made for endorsement deals," according to Ahiza Garcia of CNN MONEY. Kim is already sponsored by Burton Snowboards and has a "bright future as a spokeswoman for that company." Ahead of the Pyeongchang Games, Kim also "started working with brands like Nabsico, Visa, Toyota, and Samsung." Advertisers seem to "love her life story -- her parents are immigrants from South Korea, and her dad pretty much quit his job to help her train." The companies have "featured her in several emotionally charged, biographical commercials." Wasserman Managing Partner Elizabeth Lindsey said that Kim is "well on her way to becoming a major influencer because of her personality." Lindsey: "The way that athletes are used today in brand campaigns, they have to have a personality and a voice to match" (MONEY.CNN.com, 2/13). Kim said, "I actually love working with sponsors. It's so much more than just a contract but it's like I genuinely only want to work with people that I agree with on certain things." Kim wants "to be cautious" of who she works with "because when I work with someone it's a two-way contract so I just need to make sure we're all on the same page and all onboard" ("Squawk Alley," CNBC, 2/13).

LOCAL CELEBRITY: In L.A., David Wharton notes Kim is a first-generation Korean American, which explains why her "face has been splashed across" local Korean newspapers and television this week. This aspect of her Olympic experience has "not only boosted her celebrity, it seems to have touched her in a personal way that extends beyond sport." Kim said: "I definitely, when I was younger, struggled a little to understand my identity and who I wanted to be." It was a big deal when Korean speedskater Lim Hyo-jun "earned the host nation's first gold medal in a 1,500-meter race last Saturday." But Kim "quickly stole the spotlight with a historic performance at Phoenix Snow Park three days later." Kim: "I feel like I got to represent both the U.S. and Korea today" (L.A. TIMES, 2/14). ESPN's Sarah Spain said Kim is a 17-year-old "with all the charm in the world" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 2/13). NBC Sports Bay Area's Kelli Johnson said, "She has everything you want her to be. It's a great story" ("The Happy Hour," NBC Sports Bay Area, 2/13).

Under Armour's flawed suit in Sochi was a reason U.S. did not medal four years ago
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

U.S. Speedskating has yet to medal at the Pyeongchang Games, but Under Armour is making it known that "it's not the suits" affecting the team's performance, according to CNBC's Carl Quintanilla. There was some "controversy" at the '14 Sochi Games where Team USA members "complained that the aerodynamics" of the UA suits were slowing them down. UA products will "be worn by about 375 athletes" from 16 countries throughout the Games, the "biggest presence" the brand has had at a single Olympics ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 2/13). ESPN.com's Wayne Drehs noted UA over the past four years has tested "more than 100 fabrics in 250 different blends" on mannequins in wind tunnels in "search of the combination" that Team USA will wear at the Games. UA "received the brunt of the criticism for the U.S. struggles" at Sochi, as their high-tech suits were "replaced by an older model American athletes had raced with in the past." However, instead of UA or U.S. Speedskating "walking away, they doubled down, started from scratch and analyzed everything they can do on and off the ice to improve their performance." U.S. speedskater Joey Mantia: "The suits are simply not a worry for us. It gives us a huge peace of mind to know that so much R&D has gone into this, everything we've asked for as athletes they have given to us and things couldn't be any better" (ESPN.com, 2/12).

HERE WE GO AGAIN? The AP's Beth Harris notes there are "six events remaining to avoid another shutout" for U.S. Speedskating. Team USA's mood at this point at Sochi had "turned sour and everything was being called into question, including their too-tight skin suits and ill-fated training at altitude for a sea-level games" (AP, 2/14). In Milwaukee, Gary D'Amato noted wrote it is "too early to label this Sochi 2.0," but once again the "overriding theme is skaters from the Netherlands celebrating medals" while Americans search for answers (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 2/13).

STAYING TRUE TO HIMSELF: In Chicago, Shannon Ryan noted U.S. speedskater Shani Davis' lasting legacy will be "breaking down imposing barriers to become one of the best ever in his sport, all while refusing to acquiesce to public image expectations." Davis was "criticized last week after tweeting that he felt deserving of being the U.S. flag bearer" at the Opening Ceremony, and he "isn’t a go-along, get-along type." Davis has a "friction-filled history with U.S. media, fellow skaters and U.S. Speedskating." But it is "fair to wonder if Maame Biney or Erin Jackson would be competing in South Korea as the first two black female Olympians in short- and long-track speedskating if not for Davis’ pioneering" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 2/13). In L.A., Dylan Hernandez writes Davis "should be showered" with adoration as he "closes his career." But he "won't let it" happen. He "never has and history will remember him as much for the controversy he inspired over the years as his triumphs on the ice" (L.A. TIMES, 2/14). In N.Y., Andrew Keh noted leading up to the Games, Davis had "used social media to broadcast various grievances -- with the USOC, with team sponsors, with the news media." Davis has also "repeatedly called out NBC" for what he "seems to regard as negative narratives and mischaracterization about his career" (NYTIMES.com, 2/13).

GMR Marketing is helping companies like Hershey "connect with consumers both in Korea and at home" during the Pyeongchang Games, according to Sarah Hauer of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. This marks the 15th Olympics for the company, and a staff of "160 is on site in South Korea." GMR has been "working with Olympic partners for more than 25 years" and is aiding USOC sponsor Hershey's marketing campaign around the Games. The agency in South Korea is "handing out hundreds of thousands of Hershey Kisses at a U.S. military base," while the new Hershey Gold Bar is being "touted with the help of previous gold medal winners such as speed skater Apolo Ohno." Domestically, GMR is "distributing coupons for free candy bars with every gold medal won by American athletes." GMR has eight clients for which it is "facilitating 15 different activations in Pyeongchang." It also works with "worldwide sponsors including Visa and Procter & Gamble" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 2/14).

RISE TO THE TOP: CNBC's Carl Quintanilla said noted IOC TOP sponsors "contribute nearly 20% of revenue to the IOC, and tech companies are lining up to make their mark on the Games." Intel is "rolling out 5G and drone technology for these Games" and choreographed a "drone Olympic ring display during the Opening Ceremony." Alibaba as part of its new 10-year sponsorship plans to "digitize the Olympics and its revenue stream." Alibaba Founder & Chair Jack Ma: "We want to make every Olympics Games so that people can make more money -- not only the athlete, the government and the cities, but also the fans." Quintanilla noted the 13 TOP sponsors pay "an estimated $100 million per Olympic cycle for exclusive marketing rights." Coca-Cola has "digital vending machines" in the Olympic Village, while Samsung's "VR-packed Olympic showcase has fans lined up outside" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 2/13). 

ONE OF A KIND: In South Korea, Jun Ji-hye noted Samsung "extended its Olympic legacy of supporting athletes by delivering over 4,000 exclusive smartphones to all Olympians participating" in the Games. The company also offered the phones, which are a "special edition of the Galaxy Note8," to IOC and POCOG staff. The special edition phone "showcases a shiny white back glass to convey the winter atmosphere and gold Olympic rings inspired by the Olympic Torch." The device also features pre-loaded Games "themed wallpapers and preinstalled useful apps" (KOREATIMES.com, 2/11).

Tirico is getting credit for his personable interviews with athletes and their families
Photo: TWITTER

NBC Broadcasting & Sports Chair Mark Lazarus yesterday gave primetime Olympics host Mike Tirico a "public endorsement." Lazarus said Tirico is "just as good if not better than we thought he'd be." He added viewers "seem to find Tirico accessible and pleasing, and he's done a good job drawing out athletes and their families during interviews" (AP, 2/13). In L.A., Libby Hill wrote Tirico has "done an admirable job" taking over for Bob Costas, providing the "soothing, if slightly boring commentary that keeps the main Olympics broadcast churning along" (LATIMES.com, 2/13).

SITTING ON THE SIDELINE: In N.Y., Andrew Marchand notes Costas' career with NBC is "essentially and quietly over" after giving up the Olympics hosting duties. Costas has the title "emeritus" and he is "still being paid by NBC, though there is not much left for him to do." He did not specify "how much more time he has on his NBC contract, but said it was years." Costas will "continue to call 20 or so games on MLB Network and be featured in other specials." He was "quick to say he had no problem with NBC and said he would be disappointed if any story gave the impression he has an issue with his longtime home" (N.Y. POST, 2/14).

WHAT DID YOU SAY? THE ATHLETIC's Steve Berman cites a source as saying that S.F.-based KNBR-AM has suspended host Patrick Connor from appearing on the station for the "rest of this week." Connor yesterday appeared on SiriusXM Barstool Radio's "Dialed-In with Dallas Braden" and "enthusiastically mused about the 'countdown'" until Gold Medal-winning snowboarder Chloe Kim turns 18. He also called Kim a "little hot piece of ass" (THEATHLETIC.com, 2/13).

AN HONEST APPROACH: In DC, Tik Root talked to NBC's Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir and asked them if they intentionally "toned it back a bit" in their analysis after online criticism earlier in the Games that they were too "mean." Lipinski said, "We toned it back?" Weir added, "That's a shock to us." Lipinski: "The only thing that happened is that there's been pretty good skating over (the weekend). The first day of skating ... it was disastrous, and there was really no other way to put it. So, if we see more skating like that, we're definitely gonna call it as we see it." Weir: "We have to call it like we see it or we'd be doing a disservice to our sport" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/13).

CHECK YOUR LOCAL LISTINGS: In Colorado Springs, Woody Paige writes he "can't figure out the TV schedule of events, or the time in South Korea." There is a 16-hour difference between Pyeongchang and Colorado, and Paige writes he has "yet to witness an American medal accomplishment 'plausibly live.'" Paige: "I did watch cross-country skiing. ... But I missed OUR luger winning a silver medal." He adds, "What's going on in Pyeongchang ... for Team USA, and especially the athletes with a Colorado connection, is rather amazing (I hear)" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 2/14).

Actress Reese Witherspoon has "become the most prominent celeb cheerleader, actively rooting" for U.S. Olympians Chloe Kim, Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu on her social media accounts. Rippon said, "I want to represent my country to the best of my abilities. I want to make Reese Witherspoon proud." Witherspoon responded in a tweet, "Oh @Adaripp, you make me so proud! Keep making us all so happy!" (L.A. TIMES, 2/14). Meanwhile, "SNL" cast member Leslie Jones is "live tweeting the Olympics for NBC." Jones has "emerged as the Olympics' anti-announcer, funny and often salty, especially when it comes to the fashion." Nothing "escapes her sharp eye: not black gloves, not a skating pair in checkers, not even her and Johnny Weir's matching hairstyles." And she "does it all while watching from home on her television" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/14).

CONTROVERSY ON ICE: South Korean fans today “hurled online criticisms, including death threats,” at Canadian speedskater Kim Boutin, who won the Bronze Medal in the 500-meter short-track speedskating event after a “controversial disqualification” of South Korean Choi Min-jeong. Min-jeong, after initially finishing second, was disqualified for making contact with Boutin. Boutin “locked down her social media accounts” following an “avalanche of heated comments by South Korean supporters” (WSJ.com, 2/14).

OLYMPIC SPIRIT: IOC TOP sponsor P&G today in Pyeongchang hosted a panel discussion on gender equality as part of its “Love Over Bias” campaign. IOC member Anita DeFrantz gave the opening remarks from a panel that included former U.S. figure skater Michelle Kwan, U.S. bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, Polish speedskater Katarzyna bachleda-Curus and Canadian skiers Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (P&G).

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.

GOLDU.S. SNOWBOARDERS -- The Americans stayed a perfect 4-for-4 in snowboard competition as Shaun White won his third Gold Medal in Wednesday’s halfpipe.

SILVER: ALIBABA -- The IOC’s newest tech sponsor has put its best minds to work on some of the Olympics’ most frustrating aspects: traffic congestion, inefficient ticket distribution, pedestrian wayfinding and media production.

BRONZE: EUROSPORT -- The European Olympic rights holder has figured out how to make it financially feasible to deliver quality individualized coverage to 48 countries across multiple languages.

TIN: THE WIND -- No, we’re not talking about NBC commentators’ incessant talking during the Opening Ceremony. Fierce winds have wreaked havoc on the alpine skiing schedule, as well as played unwelcome roles in competitions ranging from snowboarding to biathlon.