Why should TV dictate the splitting of events at Nationals in Canada & the US?

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Sylvia, Nov 23, 2011.

  1. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    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.)
    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:
    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:
    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...
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011
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  2. aka_gerbil

    aka_gerbil Rooting for the Underdogs

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    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.
  3. Fridge_Break

    Fridge_Break Well-Known Member

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    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??
  4. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    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...)
  5. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    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.
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  6. reese

    reese Well-Known Member

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    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.
  7. victoriajh

    victoriajh Well-Known Member

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    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....
  8. Carolla5501

    Carolla5501 Well-Known Member

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    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"
  9. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    You spoke for me, Sylvia!
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  10. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    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.
  11. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    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.
  12. Carolla5501

    Carolla5501 Well-Known Member

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    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.
  13. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    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.
  14. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    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.
  15. Garden Kitty

    Garden Kitty Tranquillo

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    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.
  16. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    Why don't they just show tapes of the final flights in each event that has already occured, and go live for the one that has not? Sports coverage - including the Olympics and skating - have done this forever.

    I'm sure most people watching don't even think about whether it's live or not, and the potential for spoiling is minimal as most viewers likely won't check online, and if they do, they can choose whether to spoil or not as we all do.

    I don't really get the point of this. TV is very important, especially for a sport like figure skating that also has a strong entertainment aspect, but I don't see why this is even necessary. They can put four final flights into two hours of coverage simply by taping part of it, as has always been done.
  17. missing

    missing Well-Known Member

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    I use a combination of Ice Network and whatever the TV coverage is for any and all skating events, but it still annoys me that at last year's US Nationals, Jason Brown's freeskate fell between the cracks of covered live by Ice Network and covered live by TV, and I didn't get to see him skate.
  18. RD

    RD Well-Known Member

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    Well, times are different now than pre-Internet days. Hard to tape coverage now when you've got instant communication like Twitter, etc. People want things NOW, they want things LIVE.

    It's one thing to tape a GP event, which only core fans would care about anyway- and another thing to tape Olympic events (remember the outcry?). As for NBC sports, they've been clueless for years- particularly under Ebersol's leadership. He never seemed to realize that it's not 1980 any more in terms of Olympic coverage. See how ESPN covers the World Cup? You can do live for those who want it, and show it later on the network.
  19. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Did you ever see Jason's performance?

    2011 US Nationals Jason Brown FS
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G94pHGvq3Fs
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  20. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    But would football ever televise the same game spread out over 2 days?
  21. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    It gets moved to 11 a.m. frequently. Which sucks for fans. We hate it at our house.

    And football has specific rules about the length of breaks between quarters and halves on all levels. Skating does not have specific rules about the timing between groups competing. That gives the network more flexibility to demand the schedule change.

    The complaint was "why should television dictate the schedule?". The reality is that television dictates all kinds of sports schedules as well as the schedules of other events.

    But what am I thinking trying to give a tiny bit of perspective to all the complaining.
  22. RD

    RD Well-Known Member

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    Even the mighty NFL moves its Nov/Dec games around for TV. Mainly to ensure that Sunday night viewers get games w/playoff implications, etc.

    I think you did not see the splitting of skating events before because of the nature of the old 6.0 system. Now that Cop is in place, and is SUPPOSED to be even (although we all know it isn't- PCS still being used as a rep score in many cases), you're seeing the federations and the networks finding the flexibility to split events and move them around for TV.
  23. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

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    I completely agree with you. Splitting up the schedule is stupid but don't blame TV; blame the organizers. Universal Sports has been a huge disappointment for me, they aren't even showing short programs. I would love to see skating live on TV, some sacrifices have to be made.
  24. NorthernDancers

    NorthernDancers New Member

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    This is not reality TV purely for entertainment, but a sports competition. The perspective should be what is best for the sport and what is best for the athletes. I am EXTREMELY upset that this is happening in Canada.

    There are 18 singles skaters, 12 pairs teams (if there are enough entries) and 15 dance teams (if there are enough) at Canadians - only 3 flights for each event. The pruning of entries is done at Challenge. This year, the men's event is not impacted. I guess they are way more important than the other disciplines. I guess they've forgotten the popularity of ice dance, given the fact Virtue/Moir are current reigning Olympic champions. It's ladies, pairs and dance. So basically what Skate Canada is saying is that the entries that don't qualify for the top flight from the Short program don't matter. They aren't worth watching. What if some of the lower entries skate better than the top flight? There will be some skaters "on the bubble" for top flight status. How can we guarantee the same measuring stick has been used for all 3 flights so the competition can be fair to the athletes? This is a judged sport, not tennis or baseball or golf. In order to be fair, it needs to be treated like one competition. What about the fans who now have to wait around all day to watch an entire event? What happens if the numbers in pairs and dance are not full, and there are only 12 teams in total in dance? Are there 3 flights of 4 skaters? Doesn't that mean that a team is then robbed of their opportunity to skate in the same competition? And won't the fans feel robbed that they missed great skaters who would otherwise finish in the top 5 but just happened to have a few bad moments in the Short? It's not beyond possible that someone in 6th place can skate lights out and end up on the podium, especially if the scores after the Short are really close. Are we expecting the results to be predetermined like the bad old days? What about the fans at home? Not everyone can travel across the country to a national competition. But they may want to cheer on their local favourites and get to know the developing skaters, even if they don't finish in the top 5 in the Short program. This decision is so WRONG on many levels. I really hope Skate Canada hears from so many people very loudly that they change their minds. If this is about CTV, then they need to revoke the rights and give to CBC, who did a great job of showing ALL skaters and events on Bold at Canadians. :mad:
  25. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    So? The other sports get moved around, too. I suspect that one reason the Breeder's Cup is split into Friday/Saturday instead of a more logical Saturday/Sunday is they don't want to overlap with Sunday football. (That, and as racing is a special case, there might be rules as far as where the actual races are held about betting on Sundays. There are odder laws on the books. But again, wagering makes racing a little different than other sports.)
  26. Lil Sarah

    Lil Sarah Member

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    I don't like the splitting events either. I get that CTV/TSN want a night of "championship figure skating" but I think its silly to actually split up the events. I can just see at the end of the live coverage, and your national pairs team are these 5 pairs: oh whoops you didn't get to see the 5th because they weren't in the final flight!

    I know sports have been catering more to television networks, but I definitely don't like it! (and I'm going to be in Moncton for Canadian Nationals and I don't like the prospect at all!)
  27. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    And 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. college football games are what is "best for the athletes"? Some game times dictated by television are also not good for the facilities and cities where the events are held. I know from local police that they hate kickoffs in Nebraska in the late afternoon or evening because of more problems with tailgating and drunk fans. But no one is asking them. Television decides the game times almost every week.

    As for the poor fans who can't go and might find the television schedule inconvenient--really? What about the whole list of college football games this Friday? Oh no! What about the poor fans who have to work that day since it is, after all, not a weekend? Someone think of them! Why is there Monday Night Football in the NFL? Some people work second shift, they can't watch! It should be stopped...Seriously, some people aren't going to be able to watch an event on television no matter what it is and when it is aired. It is beyond not realistic for television networks to only air something when it is convenient for every single person who wants to watch it.

    But no one here is indulging in petty complaining at all...:slinkaway
  28. bardtoob

    bardtoob Well-Known Member

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    No, but football games do have specific television timeouts.
  29. Lara

    Lara Well-Known Member

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    The difference is that moving a game to 11 am, while sucky, impacts *everyone* playing equally. That's not the same with splitting skating groups like this. The person who sits 7th after the SP, despite perhaps being very close to the top group, is simply not going to be on an equal footing with those skating much later. And that's plain wrong IMO.
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  30. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    Agree. CoP is *supposed* to put skaters on equal ground, but we know that's not the case.

    And, as I said, this is completely unnecessary. Networks can show pre-recorded segments of the competition whenever they want - they always have in skating, and in other sports as well, notably the Olympics. They even have the added bonus of being able to show the actual top six, rather than the final flight, as well as earlier highlights of anyone who did anything particularly interesting.
  31. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    Where everyone on the field stands around awkwardly and the air is completely sucked out of the stadium for five minutes or so...sometimes impacting an offense's tempo or momentum.

    But, again, the point about football games being scheduled at bad times is that television has long scheduled sporting events not the best interests of the athletes, coaches, facilities or their staff, security concerns, cities, or anything else. Figure skating is not unique in experiencing the problem nor is it going to change.
  32. Carolla5501

    Carolla5501 Well-Known Member

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    Heck if I am on the west coast MNF is over before I get home :)

    Honestly you are correct. It's not about the athletes, it's ratings etc...

    My concern is that I don't think it's helping the "ratings" in figure skating because I don't think it addresses the issues that keep folks from watching (AKA as a lack of interest and an uneasy feeling that "it's rigged" IMHO I am not saying it's rigged, but I think folks feel that way about figure skating)
  33. NorthernDancers

    NorthernDancers New Member

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    I really don't care what time of day the skating is shown, to be honest. That's what PVR is for. My complaint is that Skate Canada has decided to split the event in 2. There are basically going to be 2 competitions: one for the presumed top tier, and one for the rest. The first 2 flights will happen earlier in the day, and the top flights at night, except for the men which will take place in one event on Sunday. There was nothing wrong with the way that CBC managed this last year. They showed the entire event on Bold when the event was scheduled. They put together a program, some live and some taped, for the prime-time show on the main network. I would think this is way better idea for TV, since they will actually get to setup the drama and the competition according to the real results, instead of the presumed results. Now, they are betting on the fact that the top flight after the Short will be the top flight in the end. That isn't always going to be the case.

    This is not about petty complaining. This about what is fair for the athletes and to produce a fair competition. This is not golf, show jumping, tennis, etc. This is judged competition. Furthermore, the new format is not fair to the fans who buy tickets to the competition. They would want to watch the whole event, and not have to wait around all day if that's the only event they wanted to watch. Maybe they wanted to only watch Ladies or Pairs. Not everyone buys an all-event pass.
  34. NorthernDancers

    NorthernDancers New Member

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    Here's a relevant question..... Thinking about gymnastics national championships in the US and Canada..... Would the gymnastics federation take a floor routine competition and divide it up into a morning competition for the perceived lower performers, and then an elite competition just for the presumed elite competitiors in the evening? I'm guessing the answer to that is a firm no. All competitors perform right after each other in the same event and timeframe. If you are in the event, elite or not, it's all at the same time.
  35. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    And won't it be embarrassing if the person sitting 7th after the SP ends up winning the title without being televised live?

    It's bound to happen sometime. We've seen skaters win the freeskate from 7th and take a lesser medal, under both 6.0 and IJS.

    In pairs we've seen skaters win from 5th after the short, outside the final group.

    Not common, but it can happen. So I'd hope the networks would at least keep tape of a medalworthy performance leading after the earlier groups and plan some time to show it during the live broadcast.
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  36. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

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    Richard Dornbush won the free skate and the overall silver medal at Nationals after being 7th after the short. Emanuel Sandhu and Elena Liashenko went from 7th to 1st overall at Grand Prix Events soon after the implementation of IJS/COP.

    Splitting the event is just an awful idea. :mad: I was upset about it in its first incarnation. I feel bad for the skaters whose dream it was just to qualify to Nationals and whose experience just won't be the same if they compete (even leaving alone criticisms about the possibility of judging not be comparable between the early and later groups, or groups held on different days (an even WORSE idea!)).
  37. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    If athletes and coaches are bothered by it or consider it terribly unfair, I'm sure it will be voiced to the federations at some point. In my experience with an association which runs competitive events, coaches were asked for feedback about events including scheduling, usually anonymously. If the Nebraska School Activities Association can manage to get (and often listen to) feedback from participants and coaches, I would think that the Canadian and American figure skating feds can do the same (and probably do).So if it is a disaster, I'm sure the coaches will have their say.
  38. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

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    You are comparing two separate sports that don't show the same on TV. Gymnastics has four events going on at once. They don't show the floor routines 1-20 in order, it just doesn't happen. They go back and forth from one event to the other depending on who/what is being shown. The worst gymnasts don't get shown in a live event.

    Same with skaters, if they had two rinks they may preempt a live Kemp and King to show a live Patrick Chan which honestly I would rather watch. But there is only one rink, so they have to pick and choose.
  39. Fridge_Break

    Fridge_Break Well-Known Member

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    I am pretty sure Northern Dancers was referring to the event finals in which only one event goes on at a time.
  40. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

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    So the suggestion is they only show the top eight skaters per discipline? :shuffle: