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View Full Version : Why should TV dictate the splitting of events at Nationals in Canada & the US?



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Sylvia
11-23-2011, 03:50 AM
I thought this topic deserved its own thread... (I just happened to look in the "CTV, TSN to broadcast skating again in Canada!" thread tonight, wondering about all the recent activity in there and have quoted shutterbug's post #100 below.)

New TV format to be unveiled at Canadian championships (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/more-sports/new-tv-format-to-be-unveiled-at-canadian-championships/article2241285/)

Skate Canada will condense all the action of three senior disciplines into one show on Saturday night that will allow the CTV network to show the final groups only from the women’s, ice dancing and pairs events.
...
The lower-ranked groups of skaters will compete during the afternoon, but will not be shown on television. And those who pay to watch them will not know who won the event until the evening.

Not a fan of this idea at all.
Ditto! US Nationals first started doing this in 2008 when the Senior Ladies FS was split into a morning session and a later session for NBC's live primetime coverage:

Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008
9:00-11:30 a.m. Championship Ladies FS (first 2 groups)
11:50 a.m.-2:55 p.m. Championship Pairs FS
Awards
5:50-8:05 p.m. Championship Dance FD
8:20-10 p.m. Championship Ladies FS (last 2 groups)
I remember that Becky Bereswill skated in the morning session and was able to move up to finish 10th overall (though it was not a huge leap up from her 14th in the SP).

This year, the Senior Pairs FS will be split over TWO days and it's the first time the Men's FS is being split up:

Saturday January 28, 2012
12:00pm Championship Dance Free Dance (Session 17)
4:00 pm Championship Ladies Free Skate (Session 18)
CHAMPIONSHIP DANCE AND LADIES AWARDS
8:30pm Championship Pairs- Early Groups 1 & 2 (Session 18)

Sunday January 29, 2012

9:30am Championship Men Free Skate Early Groups 1 & 2 (Session 19)
11:30am Championship Pairs- Late Groups 3 & 4 (Session 20)
1:00pm Championship Men Free Skate Late Groups 3 & 4 (Session 20)
I am strongly against the splitting of events for live TV -- IMO, it can compromise the integrity of the judging and is unfair (even disrespectful) to the skaters who are forced to compete in the earlier session. As for the fans who pay a lot of money to attend Nationals in person, well, I'd better stop typing for now...

aka_gerbil
11-23-2011, 04:45 AM
I'm against it as well for the reasons that Sylvia mentioned.

On top of that, even when they split things up to air them, not all of us at home get to watch. My NBC affiliate is always going to show college basketball instead.

Fridge_Break
11-23-2011, 04:53 AM
If they want to air the events live, why not just do an afternoon broadcast and an evening broadcast like ABC used to? NBC and their terrorization of the Nationals scheduling (including that ridiculous two-weekend event during the Olympic year) is aggravating. :mad:

ETA: And I just now noticed that the early groups of pairs get to compete in the evening, whereas the final groups have a late-morning/early-afternoon session. How does that even compute??

jlai
11-23-2011, 05:04 AM
I have been going back and forth in my mind on this but I think I'm skipping US nationals for this year (again) :( I need to get back home on Sunday for personal reasons but this splitting of events means no matter when I fly I'll be missing portions of men's free skate on the plane.

The logistics of US nationals has been driving me crazy. (Perhaps that's why I ended up going to regionals and sectionals...) I'll probably be skipping US nationals--shame for I really wanna go. (Having 4CC to think about of course means less nationals for me...)

MacMadame
11-23-2011, 05:32 AM
I am not against making changes to a sport to make it more audience-friendly on principle. Sometimes these changes are a good idea and they don't fundamentally change the sport.

However, splitting up the competition like this is a dumb idea and is not fair to anyone. It doesn't even really benefit tv viewers that much as there are ways to show the last flights of thing live that don't involve splitting things up.

reese
11-23-2011, 05:53 AM
It's totally unfair for the skaters to be sure. I don't know anything about what's going on in Canada, but in the US I'm sure USFS feels like they have little choice; with the declining popularity of skating, NBC is calling the shots and my guess is USFS feels like the only way to get all 4 disciplines on the air is to do it this way.

I'm sure if NBC was offering to put the SPs on the air live, USFS would scrap the random draws and start doing it by some sort of seeding system, which would be even worse for the lesser known skaters.

victoriajh
11-23-2011, 07:33 AM
Given that most people who want live events are steaming them online is there much call for the 'primetime' piece anymore? I for one would much rather watch the whole event online that see 5 skaters on tv....

Carolla5501
11-23-2011, 02:39 PM
The sad part is that the networks are paying next to nothing to get these broadcast rights. However, the skating "powers" think that "it's more important to get those few bucks" then to appeal to a large fan base which might in the long run pay more. Getting fans back supporting skating would actually help them get more money from the networks, but......I have never thought long term thinking was a strong point at USFSA. They still seem to think they are in the popularity/attention gained from the infamous "whack in Detroit"

skatesindreams
11-23-2011, 03:14 PM
I am strongly against the splitting of events for live TV -- IMO, it can compromise the integrity of the judging and is unfair (even disrespectful) to the skaters who are forced to compete in the earlier session. As for the fans who pay a lot of money to attend Nationals in person, well, I'd better stop typing for now...

You spoke for me, Sylvia!

danceronice
11-23-2011, 03:17 PM
The networks are giving them more money than they will pocket in ticket sales doing it the other way. Don't bow to them, ticket prices for people attending on site go up, fewer people buy them. Skating's unpopular enough USFS at least isn't in a position to do any bargaining.

GarrAarghHrumph
11-23-2011, 03:31 PM
Given that most people who want live events are steaming them online is there much call for the 'primetime' piece anymore? I for one would much rather watch the whole event online that see 5 skaters on tv....

This is not the case. Looking up their stats shows that only 24,000 people in the US used Ice Network in October. I'll assume that October's numbers will hold true through the season, plus or minus some thousands. To be generous re: the numbers, I'll also pretend that everyone accessing Ice Network is there to watch skating videos live. But let's be really generous, and say that maybe, for the GPF, if it's on live, it'd get 50,000 viewers, although I think that number's high.

In contrast - although of course, this is exaggerated due to circumstances - 28.4 million people in the US watched the men's free program at the Olympics.

Obviously, expectations for live viewing on tv of more minor skating events is way less than 28.4 million, but it's also way more than 50,000, even on cable.

Because this is FSU, where stats are fun, to make a really rough, worst-case guesstimate at what ratings might be expected for figure skating, live, in primetime, I'll look at the lowest rated Ultimate Fighting Championship (a popular sport, but not a major sport) on a cable channel (Spike TV) - and they got 600,000 US viewers. So even in my worst estimation, skating would get 600,000 viewers on tv if shown live on cable - and most likely, they'd get far more on a major network.

In addition, studies have shown that in order to attract a larger audience, sports do best if shown live. NBC did a ton of research over the years on this, for the Olympics, and that's why their marquee events are now shown live, if possible, and in primetime - to the point where they work with the host country Oly committee to schedule the event to happen in US east coast primetime, when possible.

Carolla5501
11-23-2011, 03:35 PM
The networks are giving them more money than they will pocket in ticket sales doing it the other way. Don't bow to them, ticket prices for people attending on site go up, fewer people buy them. Skating's unpopular enough USFS at least isn't in a position to do any bargaining.

Yes, the networks are paying them more, but... every year in the US it seems they get less and less... they are now on "marginal" networks most of the time (I can't believe Universal pays welll LOL!)

The problem is USFS is doing NOTHING to increase popularity, but a lot ot hurt it.... high ticket prices, bad timing of events etc..... They need to work WITH the network and convince them that increasing the popularity of the sport is good for BOTH sides. Network gets more veiwers = higher ad rates (have you seen those rating numbers in the US, that's why we get the sad dog commericial over and over and over again) USFS gets more money.

Instead both sides seem determined to drive off fans :( I expect that in a few years with the exception of "Olympic" years Figure Skating will not be on TV much at all.

PDilemma
11-23-2011, 03:53 PM
Television controlling scheduling is nothing new in any sport. If you have a major conference college football team in your area, look at their schedule for next season. I guarantee you that almost every game will say "TBA" for the time as schools wait for television coverage to determine game time. If you've been to a game, you know that there are "television time outs" for commercials that disrupt the game, where the players stand around on the field.

The World Series used to have an afternoon game or two, long long ago. Television moved it all to prime time (Eastern time--even if the game is played on the west coast).

Presidents even have to time speeches to the convenience of major broadcasters if they want it to have live coverage, and they aren't getting paid to be on the air.

This is hardly a figure skating only issue.

danceronice
11-23-2011, 04:00 PM
Yes, the networks are paying them more, but... every year in the US it seems they get less and less... they are now on "marginal" networks most of the time (I can't believe Universal pays welll LOL!)

The problem is USFS is doing NOTHING to increase popularity, but a lot ot hurt it.... high ticket prices, bad timing of events etc..... They need to work WITH the network and convince them that increasing the popularity of the sport is good for BOTH sides. Network gets more veiwers = higher ad rates (have you seen those rating numbers in the US, that's why we get the sad dog commericial over and over and over again) USFS gets more money.

Instead both sides seem determined to drive off fans :( I expect that in a few years with the exception of "Olympic" years Figure Skating will not be on TV much at all.

Except if costs go up, fewer people buy tickets, they have to raise prices...and people whine and complain and don't buy tickets, meaning their profit margin drops even more.

For TV: they change the scheduling to try and put the money people in the best viewing hours, ticket-buyers whine and complain and don't buy tickets and TV points out that live-viewing fans aren't interested, why should they pay more...

If the BASE fans constantly complain, won't buy this, won't watch that, the networks can rightly say "Even your core fans don't really care."

What is USFS supposed to do to increase viewership? Besides the Second Coming of Michelle Kwan.

Garden Kitty
11-23-2011, 04:09 PM
I hate these split events and think it really is unfortunate for the skaters. But I also recognize that the "powers that be" recognize at least skating in the US isn't as popular as it used to be, and I can understand their desire to try different things in an effort to make it more user friendly and attract new viewers.

However, I hope that when they try these things to appeal to fans, they also balance the interest of the skaters and try to come up with a solution that maximizes everyone's interests as much as possible.