[DISCLAIMER: I am American and I am only familiar with how figure skating was/is presented in the US. I'm not sure how it worked/works in other countries. Any info on international broadcasts would be fascinating.]
Back in the glory days of ABC/ESPN coverage, there were SO many fluff pieces about the skaters' personal lives, struggles, successes, training, etc. As I got older, they were kind of annoying, but ever since NBC took over, I've really missed them. I felt like I "knew" the skaters back then through the fluff pieces. We can have a whole other discussion about whether they were overdramatic, framed accurately, etc, but my point is that they made the skaters seem more real to casual viewers. Now, it's like, just show the skating and NOTHING else. It's highly unlikely that any casual viewers can even name the skaters after the competition. The coverage just feels SO rushed nowadays, so impersonal. There was a certain intimacy about ABC/ESPN coverage that is completely missing from NBC.
Something else I've been wondering about for a while is why every network showing the GP uses the ISU feed now. ABC/ESPN had their own crew, with a director, producer and who knows who else. Terry Gannon would always thank them by name at the end of the broadcast. On NBC, it seems like there's no crew, just commentators. Are broadcasters "required" to show the ISU feed now? Is it a rights issue? Sometimes the ISU's choice of camera angles is just strange. (Example: the overhead shot right at the beginning of Chan's GPF LP ) IIRC, Olympic broadcast camera angles are left up to the individual networks involved. Correct me if I'm wrong.
So, what changes need to be made to make figure skating broadcasts more watchable for the casual viewer? My suggestions would be (1) bringing back fluff pieces, (2) explaining IJS better, (3) using NO overhead shots, and (4) showing more skaters (if you see the earlier groups, you get a much better sense of how good the top tier skaters really are). I know this is all wishful thinking, but we can dream, right?