Update: strong ratings for NBC: Despite dire predictions, Olympics always comes through

Update: The final numbers are in, and NBC has reason to be pleased. The network averaged 21.6 million viewers per night for its primetime coverage, up six percent from the last European Olympics in Torino in 2006. The complete release is below.

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I refrained from using these Al Michaels quotes during an interview I did with him prior to the Olympics. I didn’t want to put a hex on the Games.

But Michaels, a Olympics veteran for ABC and NBC, downplayed all the forecasts of doom and gloom in Sochi.

“Everyone is always worried,” Michaels said. “Will the weather be good? Will everything get done in time? What about terrorism? People even were asking me, ‘Are they going to put you in a Gulag?

“Every Olympics I’ve done, people say, ‘It’s going to be horrible.’ You know what? It’s … Continue Reading

DVR alert: NBC to air powerful films during Saturday’s coverage

Here are the previews and rundowns for a couple compelling films during NBC’s Olympic coverage on Saturday.

Long Way Home: The Jessica Strong Story

Paralympic athlete Jessica Long will be the subject of a 20-minute feature, Long Way Home: The Jessica Long Story, that will air within NBC’s Olympic coverage Saturday night.

Long Way Home chronicles the story of Long, a world-class swimmer, 12-time Paralympic gold medalist, and 21-year old American from a Baltimore suburb, who was born in Russia and adopted by American parents. The feature tracks Long’s journey from the States to Siberia – Baltimore to Bratsk – to meet her birth family.

A double amputee and a Russian-born orphan, Jessica Long has grown up as two people simultaneously, a dedicated and determined young woman who has used that drive to become one of the most-decorated U.S. … Continue Reading

Al Michaels: Legendary ‘Do you believe’ call almost wasn’t part of movie, ‘Miracle’

It is the four-year ritual for Al Michaels. When the Winter Olympics rolls around, he repeatedly gets asked about his legendary “Do you believe in miracles?” call which punctuated the United States’ legendary victory over Russia.

Michaels is quick to point out that 34 years have passed since the 1980 Olympics.

“If you’re under 40, you don’t remember it,” Michaels said.

The call, though, remains vibrant to the next generation thanks to the movie, Miracle, starring Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks.

“I can’t tell you how many youth coaches tell me they show that movie at the beginning of the season,” Michaels said. “The movie has given it a different life.”

However, here’s the kicker: Michaels’ famous call almost didn’t make it into the movie. I’ll let Michaels take it from here:

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The director (Gavin O’Connor), a terrific … Continue Reading

Bob Costas is barely on the air in primetime; NY Times’ takes out stopwatch

I don’t know about you, but I have noticed that you barely see Bob Costas during NBC’s primetime coverage. Basically, he serves as a bridge from one sport to another, sitting or standing in that big studio.

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times had the same impression. He went one step further and used a stopwatch to quantify how much viewers see Bob. The answer: Not much.

Sandomir writes:

He has no fixed length of on-screen time. But it turns out he’s not on much. In his first two nights back after sitting out six days with the infection, Costas was a visible presence for a mere 5 minutes 28 seconds on Monday and for 10:17 on Tuesday, nearly half of it an interview with the figure skating analysts Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir.

Costas was surprised by

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20 years ago: Recalling how lone camera crew captured Nancy Kerrigan’s cries of ‘Why, why?’

NBC is doing a documentary on the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding affair. It is scheduled to air on Sunday, although it could be sooner depending on what happens with the weather at the Olympics. In an interview with Mary Carillo, Kerrigan talks for the first time about the infamous whack to the knee.

You will notice footage of the infamous incident contains the Intersport logo. Here’s why. Intersport’s Gene Samuels was the only cameraman to record the historical scene below. Intersport president Charlie Besser continues to cash in on the copyrighted footage, especially this year with the 20th anniversary retrospectives. He contends the dramatic video helped lift the story to a level never seen before or since.

Besser: We were doing a live one-hour TV special previewing the OIympics. We approached Campbell’s. Their spokesperson was Nancy Kerrigan. They were interested in … Continue Reading

Crossing the line: When sideline interview veers from forgettable to exploding Twitter

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University examined Christin Cooper’s with Bode Miller.

From the column:

Usually the postgame interviews are replete with forgettable snippets of athletes answering the how-does-it-feel questions in the heat of the moment. He or she mutters clichés about giving thanks to God and saying they couldn’t have done it without their teammates. Blah, blah, blah.

However, there are times when the postgame interview dives off the deep end and becomes more discussed than the event itself. Nothing likely will ever top Jim Gray’s World Series game “apologize now” interview with Pete Rose. Recently, ESPN’s Heather Cox took considerable heat for her excessive questioning of Jameis Winston’s off-the-field situation just minutes after Florida State won the ACC title game.

Then Sunday night, Twitter blew up in the aftermath of Bode Miller’s … Continue Reading

Olbermann torches Miller interview: ‘Tantamount to holding up late brother’s photo’

No, Keith Olbermann wasn’t a fan of Christin Cooper’s interview with Bode Miller. He called it “excruciating.”

He said: “It was tantamount to holding up his late brother’s photo. When that didn’t get him to collapse, pointing to a picture of his late brother’s grave. Then when he finally started to break up, cutting to a live feed from his late brother’s grave.”

Here’s Keith.

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Daring concept: In Internet world where negative sells, new site focuses on inspirational stories in amateur sports

Perhaps the founders of a new site haven’t heard. Negative sells on the Internet. Just look at my pals at Deadspin.

Thrive Sports, though, is looking to buck the trend. It is banking that there is a market for–get this–inspirational, positive stories.

Thrive Sports focuses on telling the stories of athletes who participate in amateur and Olympics-style sports. The Minneapolis-based site has been going hard on the games in Sochi with behind-the-scene tales and videos on the participants and their families.

Several stories were done by Dylan Brown, the brother of figure skater Jason Brown and my son’s good friend. Dylan wrote, “Before he was a high level skater, he was already an incredible brother and person.”

Judging by the quality of the site and an initial advertising push, Thrive Sports has some money behind it. One of its … Continue Reading

Welcome back, old Red Eyes: Costas anxious to help NBC team

Yes, Bob Costas’ eyes still will be red tonight. Deal with it, America.

During a conference call earlier today, an upbeat Costas addressed the worst eye ailment in Olympics history.

From the call:

Welcome back, Bob. I guess one of the things people must have thought is that you stayed entirely in a very dark room for six or seven days trying to heal. But what else did you do during that time?

Bob Costas:  Well the worst three days of it I was primarily in a darkened room. There were other times when just to kind of break the monotony I would go downstairs for a little while to the restaurant of the hotel or – at night walk out on the terrace attached to the room just to get a little fresh air.

And then the second … Continue Reading

Different perspective: Ski writers, broadcasters never pressed Miller about brother

Chris Dufrense of the Tribune Olympics bureau encountered a different Bode Miller than what America saw during his emotional interview with Christin Cooper on NBC last night.

It seems for Dufrense and the other writers who covered his race, Miller’s brother wasn’t an essential theme during his mass interview with the media.

Dufrense writes:

Here’s what I do know: Miller was fully composed when he finally got to the U.S. press station in the mixed zone.

“To hang on to a medal today, I feel really lucky and fortunate,” Miller said.

It had been well chronicled that Miller lost his brother last April to a seizure.

Miller was more emotional than usual in the mixed zone and said ”this was a hard year,” but he did not cry. No one really pushed Miller on the issue of his brother.

Miller, frankly, was not the lead

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