I would first like to thank you for picking up eligible figure skating international competitions after ABC decided not to renew their contract with the ISU.
However, I have to say that I feel your coverage could have been done much better than the way it was handled last season. I do think a lot of it was due to the fact that it was your first year covering the figure skating season, and you're still learning what the skating viewership wants to see.
As a loyal fan of figure skating, I would like to give you some insight on what we want to see. I know many things you do are trying to attract new fans, but as the ratings show, your efforts seem to be failing at gaining casual fans while losing the loyal fanbase you already have. There are a lot of means to get the skating coverage now, and American television isn't the only option to see these competitions anymore. That is why it is more important than ever to get the loyal fanbase back and play to them, rather than trying to dumb it down to the casual population.
I would like to see more competition and less fluff. I don't mind fluff, and I do find some to be very well-done and enjoyable. However, fluff should never take the place of the actual competition. When half or even a quarter of the coverage is fluff, then it's too much. It would be much better to see more skaters competing. There is more to figure skating than the top 4-6. There are many talented and entertaining teams that do not always place in the top 6, but are very worthy contenders. It would be great to see more than 4-6 competitors because as a real sports network, you know that a competition is better with more competitors competing. You're also really lucky right now because figure skating is much more competitive than ever. All of the disciplines (ice dance, mens, ladies, and even pairs to a lesser extent) have top 10 (maybe even more) that can challenge for medals. You really have a goldmine of talent to show, now just show it.
Also, your audio seems to be very low. I didn't have a problem with the way ABC did their audio, but I notice that everytime I watch ESPN coverage of figure skating, I can barely hear the music while the commentators seem to have their volumes up much higher. Music is every essential to a figure skating program, and everyone (including casual viewers) would much rather hear and watch a figure skating performance with excellent sound and crisp music than watch one with low music and loud commentary.
It would also be much better if you'd show the competitions much closer to the date they actually occured. Like I said before, figure skating fans have a lot of means to get the coverage now with the internet. In order to stay competitive, you cannot show a competition 2 weeks after they happened. Even one week is pushing it. I know that may sound harsh, but 2 weeks or more is really unacceptable nowadays.
Now, I know there are some things I've asked that are beyong your control, but I feel that many of the things I and many figure skating fans have asked for are very possible. I mean ESPN shows hours upon hours of Poker and Eating competitions, so I believe managing the time you do have to show figure skating can be easily done.
Please show the loyal figure skating fanbase that you do care about this particular viewership and that ESPN did not buy figure skating just to team it up with other "women's" sports on nights where ratings aren't strong anyway in a lame attempt to gain some women viewers.
Again, thank you for buying the rights to figure skating.