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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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August 15, 2008 4:38 PM

NBC: No way Phelps Saturday race will be live

Posted by Ron Judd

We neglected to post this yesterday, in all the excitement over beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh's birthday celebration on NBC:

A network spokesman, responding to hopeful rumors that the network would get a clue and at least broadcast one Michael Phelps race -- his likely historic, eighth-medal attempt Saturday evening -- live in the west-coast Disadvantaged Time Zone, has cleared that up:

No chance.

NBC, he reiterated, will continue to broadcast events "when the majority of people are available to watch."

Apparently, that would be about 1 a.m., which is when NBC's coverage of recent marquee events, such as gymnastics, have wrapped up on the East Coast of late. (The network could actually show the same events, live, on the West Coast, and actually have them seen in prime time, but refuses to do so.)

Doesn't matter that it's a major historical event. Doesn't matter that it happens on a Saturday, when a live television office across the country would likely be massive. Just doesn't matter.

It's amazing, and at some point, it starts to feel personal. Did Dick Ebersole perhaps have a bad experience as a child at the Space Needle? You've gotta wonder.

Meanwhile, word arrives that NBC's initial boffo ratings for Beijing have been flagging. For both Wednesday and Thursday nights, they trailed ratings for the comparable time periods in Athens, in spite of marquee events like Phelps' medal quest and women's gymnastics. Given those events, Thursday night should have been a highlight of NBC's entire Games coverage.

Maybe it took a couple days for people to tire of watching events they long ago heard results from dragging on to 1 a.m.

There's more bad news, and you might as well get used to it now: NBC's Olympic contract runs through 2012. Anyone willing to bet that the network won't be showing viewers in Seattle most Winter Games daytime events from Vancouver on a half-day delay, even though they'll be taking place live, right up the road? And you thought this was irritating...

Note also that if you're glibly watching on CBC this time around, you'd better check your channel grid before the Vancouver Games. CBC lost the Games contract to CTV, which will broadcast Vancouver 2010. Neither channel is carried on DirecTV, but most local cable operations offer both.

Comments | Category: Beijing 2008 Games , Canada , Olympic media , Vancouver 2010 Games |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

August 14, 2008 1:47 PM

Raise your hand if you're reading this at work

Posted by Ron Judd

Viewership stats confirm it: The great bulk of online viewing of the Olympics is being done by people doing some daytime "research" in the office.

Nielsen stats show that more than 2 million people lurked on the video section of NBCOlympics.com on Monday, compared to about 850,000 on the weekend, CNET reports. Yahoo also reported an 86-percent traffic surge on Olympic sites from Sunday to Monday.

OK, now get back to "work."

Comments | Category: Beijing 2008 Games , NBC , Olympic media |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 13, 2008 8:49 AM

A Hannah Storm-front hits ESPN, just in time for Beijing

Posted by Ron Judd

ESPN, left decidedly on the summer sidelines due to NBC's lock/stock/barrel ownership of Olympic broadcasts, isn't just conceding the ratings race to the peacock network.

ESPN will expand its popular SportsCenter show to mornings starting Aug. 11, just when the Beijing Games are getting rolling. And it will put a big name with long NBC roots -- Hannah Storm -- in the anchor's chair from 9 a.m. to noon Eastern, the Associated Press is reporting. The announcement was expected later today.

Storm, 45, most recently anchor of the CBS Early Show, has a decade of NBC Olympic experience from Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Salt Lake City.

It's part of a major lineup shuffle in which ESPN will replace nine hours of canned programming (mostly repeats of SportsCenter taped at 2 a.m. Eastern time the night before) with live shows. Under the old format, ESPN didn't begin live broadcasts until 3 p.m. Eastern. A Summer Olympics, with its non-stop news cycle, is the perfect time to make the switch.

"You look at Fox News and CNN, it's inconceivable that they would be on tape for that amount of time," Norby Williamson, ESPN's executive vice president of production, told the AP. "The sports world is evolving in that direction. Things are happening all the time."


Comments | Category: Beijing 2008 Games , Olympic media |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

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Blogroll and links

www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog
www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
www.wcsn.com: News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions.
www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
www.vancouver2010.com: Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site.
www.london2012.com: London 2012 Summer Games site.
www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.