Hi Merrywidow. The way I look at it, advertising revenue and audience ratings go hand in hand. If lots of people watched, companies would want to advertise on the show. So I do not think that a letter-writing campaign is necessarily either foolsh or selfish, as long as it is directed toward increasing the audience for figure skating programming.
I think Doggygirl's letter is a good model (except I would stop after point #1 -- TV execs, like everyone else, have short attention spans, LOL.) ESPN is contractually committed to showing the Grand Prix events, in some form or other, and Worlds. I see no reason why they would not welcome suggstions as to how they might make their programming more attractive to viewers.
To me, the number one problem with attracting an audience is that they show the events two weeks after the fact. I am a enthusiastic fan of the sport, but I didn't bother to watch any of the GP events last year. Why not? I already knew who won and, indeed, I had already seen tapes of many of the performances on the Internet. I was more interested in checking in with Golden Skate to see what was happening with this week's event, than in watching an old rehash of last week's competiton.
So I am not 100% convinced that it is a waste of time to try to convince the TV people that there is a certain core audience out there which they are in danger of losing altogether. At the same time, especially in an Olympic year, there may be opportunities to attract a somewhat wider viewership with more timely and better advertised coverage.
Revenue follows ratings. That's the one thing the TV people do know.