the Olympic flame go out early?
By Kristen Weller
March 10, 2006 | According to
Fast National TV ratings American Idol
beat out the Olympics for 2006's Winter Olympics, which
has faced a huge decrease in ratings but NBC remains
Ebersol said, during a press conference, that while
ratings are down considerably from Salt Lake City in
2002 and Nagano in 1998, they continue to meet projections.
The prime time ratings for the Turin Olympics were down
more than 30 percent from the Salt Lake Olympics.
An article released on the Scripps Howard News Service
acknowledges the main reason for the slump is the time
delay. "Some folks won't bother to watch a sporting
event, even something as grand as the Olympics, if they
already know the outcome," the article
That sentiment seems to echo throughout many students
at Utah State University, which stay informed with Olympic
news by checking the Internet every few days.
"That way you can know about the Olympics and still
watch your favorite shows," Lindsey Curtis, a junior
majoring in journalism, said.
Ultimately, the issue boils down to image. The Olympics
have been around for years, and are not as trendy to
the younger population. US
A Today has offered 10 ways for the Olympics to
boost their image.
Put more 'reality' in Olympic TV. As is shown
by the ratings, American viewers prefer hype and details
to actual reality. Some suggestions from the article
include having hidden cameras to catch the late-night
activities of the athletes, and streaming that content
to sites that are already popular like myspace.com.
Let the viewers have a vote, even if it isn't the
final answer. The popularity of American Idol demonstrates
the American desire to have a say in what goes on, even
if it has no bearing on the outcome. Perhaps an online
or text message voting system would boost Olympic ratings.
Other suggestions include a Web site for viewers to
post their feelings, gripes, favorite moments of the
Tap the technology. Catherine Mullen, general
manager of the TV music network Fuse suggests distributing
the games through other media like podcasting, or with
live broadcasting on cellphones.
Highlight the rivalries. Americans are big
on competition. Michael Lynch, senior vice president
of marketing for Visa USA, an Olympic sponsor, points
to the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" when the U.S. hockey team
overcame the Russian team for an incredible gold medal
win. "We could do a much better job building up the
rivalries," he said.
Decide some events head-to-head. To often,
sports activities are drawn out over days or weeks of
competition. Working less by the clock and more head-to-head
will increase the excitement of the games, and hopefully
the ratings. Including more background on the top three
finalists will make this one final race more exciting,
and allow viewers to feel more in touch with the athletes.
More music, less talk. The Olympics cannot
hope to reach the young American population with the
same music it has been using for decades. Taking a step
toward more diverse musical genres will give more people
the opportunity to connect with the games. While decreasing
the amount of talk, it is also time to make the talk
more hip. It is time to find some younger, hipper commentators.
Katie Paine, a consultant for business reputations,
said, "Instead of someone translating snowboard-ese
into English, you need someone who actually speaks snowboard-ese."
Go back to the 4-year wait. Having some form
of Olympic games every two years could be too much too
often. In 1986,
the International Olympic Committee decided to change
the schedule of the Olympics. The Summer and Winter
games were originally held in the same year. This has
created a disinterest in the Olympics. The importance
of the games is diluted by the frequency, said Pam Murtaugh,
a management consultant.
Be less predictable. This tip can work especially
well when dealing with the opening and closing ceremonies.
Even little secrets like who will be the final torch
bearer can be enough to keep the viewers interested.
Incorporate the extreme. With the increasing
success of ESPN's x Games it is clear that what the
viewers want are more exciting events. A revamped snowboarding
competition to include skate park terrain complete with
jumps and sliding rails is that the Olympics need said
Ron Semiao, creator of the X Games.
Rethink the Olympic mission. Many criticize
the Olympics for being addicted to the corporate dollar.
It is time to make the Olympics about the athletes and
events again. The decisions need to be made not by the
sponsors but by the participants. According to the IOC,
the Games have always brought people together in peace
to respect universal moral principles. It does not say
that the Olympics were started to make big money. It's
time to get back to the basics in this regard.
The Olympics are not completely lost the way they
are now. There are plenty of people who are watching
the games. Ben Jackson, a junior studying engineering
at Utah State University said, "I think we are more
grown up then most people out there. American Idol is
no big deal. But the Olympics- now that is important."