Monday, February 20, 2006
Why Are The Olympics A Ratings Disappointment?
USA Today and many others have numerous explanations for why the Olympics are doing only modestly in the ratings. But here's my take. First, of course, the Olympics are boosting the ratings for every cable channel -- like USA and MSNBC -- that is carrying them. Plus, NBC's website is exploding with people checking out scores, downloading videos, etc. The Olympics is a huge source of material and the better NBC gets at exploiting that material in every possible platform, the more money they'll make. And yes, USA Today is right that the Games -- especially the Winter Games -- are bloated. The Olympics has desperately added a bunch of Gen X sports -- not because they want to reach kids particularly, but because they want to have as many days of TV as possible and the Winter Games traditionally had far fewer events than the summer games. But the single biggest reason isn't mentioned: the disastrous decision to alternate the Games every two years. That turned the Olympics from a once-every-four-years special event a la World Cup -- into the event that never seems to go away. American Idol wisely only does one show a year. The Olympics would be smart to suck it up and go back to the every four years format as soon as possible.