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Thread: Grim look at the future of skating on US TV (Article)

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    Grim look at the future of skating on US TV (Article)

    Interesting read...some good insights as well (registration required):

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/printe...ines-pe-sports

    The forecast is so ominous it could turn figure skating into primarily an Internet sport as a broadcast commodity, barely a decade after its over-the-air network TV ratings and income were in googol range.

    "Will we stay on TV? It depends what you mean by TV," said Eddie Einhorn, the skating association's TV consultant. "I see a combination of over-the-air, cable and Internet/new media. It will likely switch mostly to new media as years go by.

    "Getting a big rights fee from television is the old game. Smaller sports are going to have to find other ways to get broadcast time."

    ABC/ESPN already have shunted figure skating off to time slots that make it cannon fodder — in TV parlance, "counter-programming" — to pro football.

    Sunday telecasts, once programmed for late afternoon, now are aired in early afternoon, where they get ratings from 1 to 2. For the first time in memory, the women's final at the U.S. Championships will not be a Saturday night live prime-time telecast, with the 2007 event airing live in late afternoon. ABC may decide to scrap the last of this season's made-for-TV shows, scheduled for next spring.

    Those programming decisions irritate U.S. figure skating officials, but they have kept their unhappiness to themselves, because public complaints might jeopardize future negotiations. And ABC could point out that the 2006 telecast of the women's final did not get the ratings boost over 2005 that usually occurred for a national championship in an Olympic year.
    NBC, the Olympic network through 2012, has long lived with the philosophy that it did not need to program pre-Olympic sports to build interest in its Games telecasts. No other U.S. network has telecasts of figure skating competitions involving Olympic-eligible athletes.
    One of the biggest players in the sports world, the Anschutz Entertainment Group, recently became involved in skating by purchasing the Champions on Ice Tour and attracting the 2009 world championships to its Staples Center. AEG's billionaire owner, Philip Anschutz, went to Japan to lobby skating union President Ottavio Cinquanta for the world meet.

    "We certainly have a commitment to figure skating, and we will look at all ways to help grow the sport," AEG spokesman Michael Ross said.
    A key question for the skating association is how much money it wants to risk staging events such as the three annual pro-ams, for which ABC now bears the financial burden. Ratings and attendance for the pro-ams have become progressively worse; an attempt to generate interest by letting fans do the judging produced results that owed to popularity instead of performance.

    "Skating doesn't need exposure," Einhorn said. "Skating needs money."
    (emphasis added)

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    I wonder what they will do about it. Maybe, ban costumes for the ladies to attract more viewers in the male age 18+ bracket? Reinstate Tonya? Frame a skater for whacking another?

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    Reinstating Harding would just bring this already low "sport" to rock bottom. I also take it that it would disgust people more than intrigue them.

    I happen to be one of those males who fit the 18-49 demographic that they seem to be looking for (I'm 20), and I can only speak from my point of view- can't speak for all males. But I will say that I would imagine that most males, while they might enjoy LOOKING at female figure skaters, won't necessarily watch figure SKATING.

    (I happen to like doing both of them...for the most part. )

    In all seriousness, though, I find it very interesting that they want more male viewers watching skating. I always believed that women (especially older women) were its core audience (as confirmed by the article). If you change coverage format to try to attract male viewers, you risk alienating your core audience and if you're unsuccessful ratings could dip even lower. But, from reading that article, seems that they don't really seem to care about that demographic...as Einhorn said, it's not really about the exposure but the money. I think this is the last year we'll see skating on broadcast tv and come 2008 the last year we'll see skating on TV at all (save for specials, Today Show appearances, etc.)
    Last edited by R.D.; 12-06-2006 at 03:17 PM.

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    "Skating doesn't need exposure," Einhorn said. "Skating needs money."

    ????

    Alright, I am sure this person was qualified, but heres the oxymoron - How do you generate more money ...... Duh Fred, exposure.

    And I will tell you now, a scoreboard on screen might not "cure" but the guys I talk to think that is a great idea - as well in gymnastics etc...
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dog View Post
    I happen to be one of those males who fit the 18-49 demographic that they seem to be looking for (I'm 20), and I can only speak from my point of view- can't speak for all males. But I will say that I would imagine that most males, while they might enjoy LOOKING at female figure skaters, won't necessarily watch figure SKATING.

    (I happen to like doing both of them...for the most part. )
    Diddo

    One "friend" told me that when they start skating nude or at least in thongs and bikini tops he'll start watching (pig ). But that is truth to the matter of the male mentality a great deal of the time, not all but most. Particularly "sports guys." Is this a fan you would want anyway? If the guys start appearing less like (and I am using their terms here) flamer boys, and the girls keep doing what they are doing - pretty much borderline already IMO - and give it that hard "sports feel" (like not calling it the kiss and cry for one) and the "fluff" pieces show training and previous comps. i.e. "Mom died." end of story! "now they are training even harder and working to destroy the competition ..." The CoP could also spawn a change in approach in broadcasting.

    And commentators need to be more like "sports commentators" and less like Barbara Walters!

    I am the type of guy who is in touch with my feminine side, most sports guys are not. I like it in many ways how it is now, most guys do not. 'nuf said.
    Last edited by SeaniBu; 12-06-2006 at 04:01 PM.

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    i don't understand why they can't just play up the audience that already exists. we watch. and we buy things.

    another point....if football is such a ratings megalith, why has it been mostly moved to espn/cable?

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    Johio--NFL football is mainly on network television, there are potentially only 2 cable games per week, the Monday Night now on ESPN, and for the first time this year the NFL network will broadcast something like 5 Thursday night games. College football is on both cable and network tv. I am one of those oddball skate-nut/football-nut fans!

    There are the skating fans who KNOW when every broadcast is going to be on, we will always watch skating...why target the 18-49yr old males for this? Why not target the demographics and build on that? There has to be a better way of building the skating audience again...

    eliza88

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    Quote Originally Posted by seanibu
    One "friend" told me that when they start skating nude or at least in thongs and bikini tops he'll start watching (pig ). But that is truth to the matter of the male mentality a great deal of the time, not all but most. Particularly "sports guys."
    The interesting thing is that "sports guys" SAY they like to look a pretty girls in skimpy costumes, but when it comes down to it, what they really like to watch is football. Beefy lads covered from head to toe (except for those tight little pants they wear.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    The interesting thing is that "sports guys" SAY they like to look a pretty girls in skimpy costumes, but when it comes down to it, what they really like to watch is football. Beefy lads covered from head to toe (except for those tight little pants they wear.)
    :chorus: You like'a the tight pants unh?

    That is a good point, IMO this is saying they can't "associate" with the guys.

    For example, most guys that "could" associate with someone like Johnny are probably to busy with things like ... I don't know, Goth stuff or shopping to get into a sport at all. And the girls are "probably" wasting their time fawning over him, well unless they are Russian.

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    No, things are not looking good. And according to last week's Nielsen ratings Ice Wars tanked too (70th place). Hopefully ESPN and other cable outlets can attract enough viewers to keep skating on the air. I don't really care if it stays on a netwrok or not. In fact, trying to keep up with ABC's sporadic/now-you-see-it-now-you-don't/tune-in-at-3:00 am schedule has grown tiresome.

    We've come a long way from the mid-90's heyday. Sigh.

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    All the more reason why there is a need for winter sport channel. Not just skating but any sport they have at the Winater Olympics. Expect hockey they already have VS / Outdoor Network.
    If there is no money coming in from networks wheres the prize money going to come from. The price for event are already priced out of reach for some.
    Just my thoughts.

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    why target the 18-49yr old males for this? Why not target the demographics and build on that? There has to be a better way of building the skating audience again...
    ITA honestly if they're stupid enough to target avg straight men thinking they're going to watch figure skating then the idiots deserve low ratings.
    For example, most guys that "could" associate with someone like Johnny are probably to busy with things like ... I don't know, Goth stuff or shopping to get into a sport at all.
    Shopping is nice but, I always make time for Johnny. but the thing is I wouldn't have even known he existed or that figure skating was even still a sport? I honestly thought it was a thing of the past till I just happened upon it one day flipping the remote. And I should be part of their core target demographic.
    W/ any product you increase interest by 1st determining what your demographic is. Then you court that demographic; ignoring groups that your research suggests won't be interested in order to save marketing $. That's what they need to do IMHO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dog View Post
    Reinstating Harding would just bring this already low "sport" to rock bottom. I also take it that it would disgust people more than intrigue them.

    I happen to be one of those males who fit the 18-49 demographic that they seem to be looking for (I'm 20), and I can only speak from my point of view- can't speak for all males. But I will say that I would imagine that most males, while they might enjoy LOOKING at female figure skaters, won't necessarily watch figure SKATING.

    (I happen to like doing both of them...for the most part. )
    No. LoL The girls in figure skating aren't what one would want to see...sans clothing. They're like...little girls.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fernan View Post
    No. LoL The girls in figure skating aren't what one would want to see...sans clothing. They're like...little girls.
    There are women, too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vodka Shot View Post
    ITA honestly if they're stupid enough to target avg straight men thinking they're going to watch figure skating then the idiots deserve low ratings.
    I resent that j/k

    Quote Originally Posted by Vodka Shot View Post
    W/ any product you increase interest by 1st determining what your demographic is. Then you court that demographic; ignoring groups that your research suggests won't be interested in order to save marketing $. That's what they need to do IMHO.
    Precisely, they want to determine the group that is going to bring the most revenue and court them. Change the format that brings in the 3- 13 and 55- and has been, hope they stay and bring in the "Money spenders." How often a child's schedule is going to be put onto a school event instead of going to or watching FS. And how can you get them if it is airing at 3am anyway. I see what you are saying, and that is the rule of thumb, but doing the same thing when you NEED different results is not a good business plan.
    Last edited by SeaniBu; 12-06-2006 at 08:04 PM.

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    Sorry to be pessimistic but I agree with the article.

    IMO, ABC has not changed the format of presenting the most important competitions since they first started except they had Bill McKay then given importance to the competitions which got people interested. Gannon tries with the script they hand him but it doesn't seem to get the public interest up.

    NBC getting less and less Olys ratings each time does not do anything about it, I can't help but think it will be the lowest next time out. However,NBC will show, along with CBS all those tacky 'shows' for the holidays which, of course, will undermine serious competitions because those shows do not enhance the sport of figure skating.

    As fans (and we are limited in the public milleu) we are divided among the serious competitions and the fluff competitions as well as those Shows. True, some fans have left because favorites have moved on with their lives but that is a small fraction of disinterested people.

    Tomorrow (or today whenever you are reading this) a very important competition will take place: The Junior Grand Prix. How many fans care about this? But soon there will be the Marshalls to give you some fluff competition which will be scrutinized by the not so serious fans as if it were the most imortant event of the season. I don't know the format but I don't think it will be international. Too many Japanese skaters to upset Marshalls' Kwan replacement.

    True, one will be televised; the other unfortunately, will not. There is no demand for getting sponsor to produce the Junior Championships neither by the public nor by the fans.

    I believe the problem lies with the fans for being limited in their interest in figure skating. They have not given the word-of-mouth it deserves. The networks will only show what is going to produce money for them. Can't blame them, they have a Board of Directors to answer to.

    Tomorrow if anyone is interested is the JGP Finals and it is possible that the Americans will sweep the disciplines.

    Joe

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