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Thread: Do big name stars really increase television viewership?

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Do big name stars really increase television viewership?

    The consensus seems to be that NBC television is hoping that Sasha Cohen will show up and skate well at U.S. Nationals. Do you think that casual fans, who otherwise would have skipped the event, will be more likely to tune in because of a familiar name?

    Evan Lysacek is World Champion. Do you think anyone cares?

    Do names like Belbin and Agosto draw in fans who without them would not be interested enough about ice dance to bother?

    What about the Olympics? Do you think that most people will watch just because of the grand spectacle, and root for the home team out of patriotism, without regard to who the individual athletes are?

  2. #2
    n_halifax
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    The consensus seems to be that NBC television is hoping that Sasha Cohen will show up and skate well at U.S. Nationals. Do you think that casual fans, who otherwise would have skipped the event, will be more likely to tune in because of a familiar name?

    Evan Lysacek is World Champion. Do you think anyone cares?

    Do names like Belbin and Agosto draw in fans who without them would not be interested enough about ice dance to bother?

    What about the Olympics? Do you think that most people will watch just because of the grand spectacle, and root for the home team out of patriotism, without regard to who the individual athletes are?
    I do think there are only a handful of "big" names who will draw in casual fans of the sport that are still competing. I look at my parents, who were very supportive of me and interested in the sport when I was competing, but lost interest thereafter greatly because of the lack of TV exposure, the demise of televised professional competitions and the 6.0 system going kaput. They still know who Sasha Cohen is, who Evgeni Plushenko is, who Joannie Rochette is (we are Canadian) and they will tune in out of patriotism and the excitement of the Games being held here but as for a lot of today's 'stars', these are AWESOME AWESOME skaters but not household names. At least not yet... In Canada, the names casual viewers best know are Elvis Stojko, Josee Chouinard, Bourne and Kraatz, Emanuel Sandhu, Sale and Pelletier, Underhill and Martini, Kurt Browning, Brian Orser, Jennifer Robinson, Liz Manley (of the Canadian skaters) and the household names of yesteryear: Kwan, Boitano, Hamill, Witt, Hamilton, Eldredge, Gordeeva/Grinkov, Bonaly, Yamaguchi, The Duchesnays, Torvill/Dean, etc. etc. I think it's not that today's skating stars aren't any more memorable, it's that the lack of TV and media exposure these skaters are getting compared to before (at least in North America), the death of professional figure skating made for TV competitions, the new judging system and thus, the cookie cutter programs they are ALL skating as a result, are not contributive to captivating the GENERAL PUBLIC's attention.

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    nefertiti..reincarnate
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    I'm not sure if CoP is one of the serious factors.
    As long as there is tight competition between your compatriot skater(s) and the rivals seeking the same championship, that should draw attention regardless of the judging system.

    I wrote "compatriot" but IMO even nationality isn't decisive, either.
    It seems to me that dramatic wins and tense rivalry are the main magnet that draw attention of general viewers. In Japan, Mirco Crocop once used to be the fans' most dramatic hero in marshal arts, and he's not Japanese. Neither was late Airton Senna in Formula One, but I'm pretty sure he's loved the most, not the several Japanese pilots who were/are in the scene.

    "Heroes" are the ones that have the drama quatity in themselves. They are the ones who can once in a while bring outburst of joy to the viewers, and that doesn't necessarily depend on a gold medal.

    If "big names" mean such personal charisma, then yes.
    But personally I don't find enough charisma in Sasha.
    If she makes a dramatic comeback with a skate-of-her-life at US Nats, then she'll be such.

    BTW just as a reference:
    In most part of Japan you can watch men's and ladies' singles of both Euros and US Nats via community satelite and consequently via cableTV ... live and also replay. (But of course, not on regular broadcast.)
    There are always demands of enthusiasts, however small in population, and it seems to me that to make business(profit) out of such demand is always possible as long as the system is fit to the size of it.
    Last edited by sorcerer; 01-07-2010 at 12:36 AM.

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    Desperate Mouse Killer kandidy's Avatar
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    For me who is Asian, if sasha withdraw, I guess I will just wait for the pbp or internet summary of the event. Not that I dislike Ashley, Racheal, Caroline and Mirai but I don't think they could keep me stay awake watch the event live considering the 12 hours time difference,

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    Do big name stars really increase television viewership?

    If your name is Yu-Na Kim, then definitely yes....particularly if you also happen to be Korean.


    I think in countries where figure skating is more prominent right now--i.e. Japan, Korea, etc--where the big name stars are probably tantamount to movie stars, figure skating stars can definitely draw in more television viewership. This is probably partly due to patriotic reasons, as those big name stars are quite likely to land on the podium and I think people like to see their compatriots win something, even if they are not particularly fans of the sport.

    As for casual fans in the US...I doubt many of them would even know any familiar names besides that of Michelle Kwan or other retired greats like Peggy Fleming. Speaking from personal experience with friends who are casual fans, they're more likely to just tune in because of pretty girls in short skirts or attractive men in form-fitting outfits

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    The consensus seems to be that NBC television is hoping that Sasha Cohen will show up and skate well at U.S. Nationals. Do you think that casual fans, who otherwise would have skipped the event, will be more likely to tune in because of a familiar name?

    Evan Lysacek is World Champion. Do you think anyone cares?

    Do names like Belbin and Agosto draw in fans who without them would not be interested enough about ice dance to bother?

    What about the Olympics? Do you think that most people will watch just because of the grand spectacle, and root for the home team out of patriotism, without regard to who the individual athletes are?

    Interesting questions you pose, Mathman, and the only one I am certain of is that Sasha Cohen (here in the good ole US of A at least) brings in viewership.

    People tend to remember familiar names, especially at the Olympics, and Sasha Cohen's name has been synonymous with the Olympics since 2002. I think that was the Olympics wherein she got a lot of coverage because the President of the United States sat by her in the stands & talked to her mother on her cell phone, lol. Also, she made the last group & finished just off the podium in 4th place. And, of course, her looks (like Katarina Witt & Katia Goordeeva) draw people in, which is both good for viewership & also for figure skating. A win win situation if you will.

    Then in 2006 she was back again, this time skating exquisitely to Romeo & Juliet, truly one for the ages. I remember I stopped following figure skating religiously back then because of the introduction to COP sometime in 2003, I was on strike, but of course I had to watch the Olympics, which I wouldn't miss for the world. And was blown away by Sasha's performance. To this day, as God is my witness, hers is the only performance I watch again & again & again (have never watched the others, truth). Also, that one performance alone by Sasha brought me back to figure skating, like magic. When she fell twice I was sure she was off the podium, another 4th place finish, but the new judging system (aka COP) awarded her the silver medal. That's when I decided COP wasn't so bad, I would give it a chance, still prefer 6.0 mind you, but am open to the new COP. All due to Sasha's R&J at the 2006 Olympics.

    But back to viewership, Sasha Cohen became a real celebrity at the 2006 Olympics. Lol, I remember how the "Flying Tomato" had a crush on her, and there were endless interviews with her, et al. The 2002 Olympics introduced Sasha to the general public, but the 2006 Olympics made her a celebrity IMHO. And the 2010 Olympics will make her into a supernova...

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