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Figure Skating's Popularity Decline In The US

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Philly2034, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    But that may have more to do with Vancouver being in a reasonably close time zone to major US cities, so events were on at a more convenient time for US viewers.
  2. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

    No doubt. Geography probably plays a role all over the world. Who knows what Sochi's ratings will be like. But a ratings increase from Torino (and a significant one at that) doesn't demonstrate Americans' continued disinterest in the winter games.

    Now, it can be argued that skating has a smaller role in how Americans watch and appreciate the Winter Games. The Gold Medal Hockey game delivered monstrous ratings in both Canada (duh) and the US (best since the Miracle on Ice). The US had stars like Shaun White and Lindsay Vonn. And Wall Street apparently loved curling. The US won the most medals in those games, so there was more incentive to watch the Games than just because a ladies figure skater could win gold. There are just more sports to watch and like. Skating now has more competition.
  3. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

    Except rinks will never be as close by as a driveway basketball hoop, and skating is expensive (prohibitively so for most families). And that goes back to:
    People can throw a baseball or football in their front yard or in the street. The can play basketball in their driveway or on the neighborhood court. In both cases, you really only need a ball (and maybe a glove). There's simply no parallel to that for skating.

    Ergo, skating becomes a niche sport with niche fans. It's not about having more exposure--it's about physical and financial accessibility. If you can only participate when/if you have a car that can get you there, it's not going to have widespread participation.

    Olympic skating lost out to American Idol in the ratings department IIRC
    PeterG and (deleted member) like this.
  4. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

    I think when we are comparing the popularity of watching figure skating in the U.S. with other sports we should particularly focus on the other sports that are performed to music, where each competitor wears his/her own unique costume, where sparkles are common, and where the performances often tell a story.
  5. Cherub721

    Cherub721 YEAH!

    Dancing with the Stars? :shuffle:
  6. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

    :yikes: let's not emulate that... even if it has a bigger audience...
  7. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

    One thing that struck me about the US Team in London for the Olympcis was that the female athletes garnered a lot of attention and accolades for their performance in London. Whether if be soccer or gymnastics or track or swimming or whatever the girls/women brought it. I think there are a lot of US females in the winter sports that do well too. That wasn't always the case. I was thinking about Calgary in '88. Was Brian Boitano the only gold medal winner (man or woman) for the US? Fast forward 24/25 years and our females have more choices, more training...just MORE. I think it may be hard for skating to compete with all of those choices. And tv is a problem. Would it be too much for ESPN or Fox Sports or even Lifetime to have a half hour or hour program each week (fall/winter) that updates fans and people who curious about the sport on events, personalities, fluff pieces and the "how to's" of the sport. I also miss ABC's "Wide World of Sports" which followed the outlier sports. I'm rambling---I am worried about the sport in the US. I'm happy to see it strong elsewhere.
  8. heckles

    heckles Well-Known Member

    Even better, have the ass-kicking crime-fighters from old cop shows make guest appearances. Have Walker, Texas Ranger come to town and, while wearing ice skates rather than the usual boots, butterfly-kick the bad guys in the face. Unlike in the old Walker series in which the show invariably concluded with everyone fighting in a burning warehouse, they could have their smackdowns on ice. Oh wait, we have the NHL doing those.
  9. Frau Muller

    Frau Muller #1 Dick Button Fan

    Now you understand why the U.S. skating community is so hell-bent on Gracie Gold winning this year's Worlds, to set the stage for (hopefully) a big pay-off at Sochi. If Gracie wins the traditional Gold (not the Team Gold) in Sochi, then post-Olympics ratings for skating in the USA will go through the roof. Ashley also could do it...but Goldie has the long legs to get more product endorsements and sell more magazines.

    It must be a lady - not a pair or a couple. Skating is, for traditional casual viewers, all about 'Miss America/Miss Universe on Ice' - Queen of the Ice. (Yeah, I realize that Johnny Weir thinks of himself as Queen of the Ice but that's not what Farmer Joe in Kansas wants to see.)
  10. Cherub721

    Cherub721 YEAH!

    Ever heard of Gordeeva & Grinkov?
  11. algonquin

    algonquin Well-Known Member

    That is a lot of pressure to put on Gold's shoulders.

    During the broadcast of the Canadian Nationals on TSN & CTV, host Brain Williams kept repeatedly saying, "Figure skating is back and back in a big way" .
  12. PeterG

    PeterG Well-Known Member

    My post had nothing to do with your post. I would have quoted you if that was the case. My post was in response to the original poster who is either lazy in regards to naming his/her thread, or is someone who does think that the USA is the center of the universe. To name a thread (only) as "Figure Skating's Popularity Decline" might make one look like quite an a** in Japan, Korea and who knows how many other countries. :D

    I was so disappointed to see how empty the building was during Davis and White's SD at US Nationals. They could very well be Olympic champions in less than a year. When Tracy Wilson mentioned they were skating to a polka, I couldn't help but think "yawnfest"!!! But darned if it wasn't a wondrous program. The place should have been packed to see it live.
  13. heckles

    heckles Well-Known Member

    Sure, but that half-full arena represented the entire population of Nebraska. :lol:
  14. spikydurian

    spikydurian Well-Known Member

    Brilliant idea! :cheer:
    Call the hit show 'Ice Angels' starring Gracie Gold, Meryl Davis and Marissa Castelli, with Jeremy Abbot as 'Charlie'. :D
  15. PeterG

    PeterG Well-Known Member

    I am sure I read that Nebraska does indeed have an airport however. Are my sources wrong??
  16. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

    Might not. The reason you don't get Ohio Star Ball on PBS any more is they lost funding as there weren't good enough ratings. (All right, mostly ballroom doesn't tell a story, and it's probably more confusing as multiple couples are on the floor at once, but there is music and there are lots of sparkles....) DTWS is crap dancing in general, but people like it because they already know the 'stars.' And gymnastics is harder to find on TV than figure skating!
  17. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

    I was supposed to meet a friend at Nationals, then I looked at the cost. I was seriously taken aback by the price of tickets, and my FSU friend and I would for years buy the cheapest and work our way down. I just want to cut through the bs and buy the good tickets and enjoy my seat and go from there. I thought tickets were crazy. Then airfare and hotel, since I only wanted to be in the host hotel since alot of fun stuff happens with that...., and I just thought, shit I could go to Paris or the 'real' London on this, and not some bs in Nebraska. So I ended up not going. Plus I still haven't been to a competition since CapnCrunch died and there was still some bittersweet feelings there.

    I do think these tickets need to be cheaper. I get it, airfare sucks, but do I want to spend hundreds upon hundreds to have a good seat that will NEVER be filled? Nope. Not anymore.
  18. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

    Well, I'll compare figure skating with DWTS. In terms of amount of coverage, DWTS is really only 3 hours per week with a lot of filler and fluff pieces. And the west coast *still* doesn't get to see it live. I don't see why we want figure skating covered like DWTS.

    In terms of costs, unless Skate Canada is right next to my condo or is in a location that appeals to me or I become an uber of a Canadian skater (and you'll know when I uber), I will try to make Skate America an annual thing. Flying anywhere in the US from Seattle is almost always cheaper than flying from Vancouver to some other Canadian city. And SA tickets are darn cheap. SA is great value for a lot of skating fans.
  19. aims

    aims New Member

    I agree absolutely. The popularity might be declining in the US for myriads of reasons, but no way is it a global phenomenon. The title misleads people to assume that.
    Can't anyone else edit the title i/o the thread poster:confused:
  20. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady Well-Known Member

    Does Canada count as one of the eight countries? First it is ruled by Britain's queen. Secondly, it's kind of just a freezing version of the USA, except for that one province where everyone speaks that ugly French patois.
  21. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady Well-Known Member

    Skating has lost some popularity in all the Western countries.

    Ask Australians on here, and I believe they will tell you skating enthusiasm has dwindled there. It wasn't always like that. Even is a summer sport country like Australia, skating had a serious following. I don't know if this is true now, and it looks like only a few can afford to train for the top levels there anymore.

    The skaters we've seen from Britain over the past fifteen years lead me to ask: Is popular support for skating in the Queen's islands almost dead? It was less than 20 years ago that the UK experienced power outages during the Olympic free dance final because so many Britons who were watching Torvil and Dean simultaneously went to their stoves to warm a pot of tea to calm their nerves down. The sport hopefully retains flickers of this excitement--and pride since the UK invented ice dance as a social activity and a sport-- but it seems dormant as of late.

    I also think in Europe, skating is considered less newsworthy than in past decades. I think in France skating remains beloved, but I could be wrong.

    I don't know what the trends are in Canada and Russia, but the sport seems at least more popular there than in the United States.

    It's nice to see the Baltic countries, the Czech and Slovak Republics, along with Poland and perhaps Hungary continue to field athletes who are notable at Europeans and Worlds. I don't know how popular the sport generally is perceived to be in those central European and former communist nations.

    Japan, Korea, and China seem to be the promising areas. It would be great for Chinese interest if they get in some singles skaters, like Lu Chen, who are competitive. The Asian countries seem to have a long, long way to go before they are good at dance.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  22. snoopysnake

    snoopysnake Well-Known Member

    Yes, and the increasing difficulty emphasis is resulting in more injured skaters who miss seasons, can't sustain their level of excellence, and/or retire before they have peaked and lose fans as a result.
  23. ItalianFan

    ItalianFan Active Member

  24. loulou

    loulou Let It Snow

    I'm not sure what athletes can standard adults identify with, though. Any athlete at top levels is by definition a non standardly built person.
  25. dewey

    dewey Member

    Isn't the airport actually in Iowa?
  26. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    I don't believe figure skating's popularity is declining even in the US. I believe it was declining but at some point it hit stasis and is now holding steady by most measures of popularity.
  27. Susan M

    Susan M Well-Known Member

    Your post lists a lot of contributing factors to the decline of skating viewership in the US, but this particular statement is only half right.

    The cheese fests that so overpopulated the US TV airwaves arose post-94 and didn't have much to do with Michelle Kwan. That year, the CBS network lost their contract to broadcast National Football League games on Sunday afternoons, so hit on the notion of counter-programming with figure skating. So every week there was another made-for-TV competition for pro skaters, mostly featuring Kerrigan and Baiul, with fairly inexplicable judging and eventually even audience voting. Add to that the usual pro events and some other new ones capitalizing on the boom and there was total saturation. The best of the pro skaters were flying around the country competing somewhere almost every weekend. Even the skaters could not keep them straight and came to not much care who won (except for Landover/World Pros). Eventually even the USFS got into the act and added a couple cheesefest-style competitions a year. (These would have been the only ones with Kwan back then.) By about 97 or 98, the boom was starting to fade, but pro skating was still getting better TV ratings than ISU competitions here. It was Speedy's annoyance that World Pros outdrew Worlds that year that caused the ISU to go on a mission to kill pro skating.

    I still think that the demise of the pro events, with no technical rules giving us more interesting, varied, creative and artistic programs has been a large factor in the decline of skating's popularity here overall. While the popularity star skaters achieved during their ISU competition years and the attention from the 94 Olympic season fed the popularity of the pro skating events, it was the popularity of these events that in turn drove interest in skating as a whole, helping viewership of the ISU events. The death of pro and show skating and skating TV specials in the US has, in turn, caused interest is skating as a whole to dwindle. (It's the "rising tide raises all boats" principle - the popularity of one fed the other, but without both healthy, the level was going to fall.

    It did not help that the US produced no real Scott-Dorothy-Peggy-Kristi-BrianB level stars for this circuit (in spite of some OGMs) and that Kwan and some others chose to spend their whole careers in ISU competitions rather than adding their luster and new energy to pro events. Lots of factors worked together, but part of the decline is simply that skating's popularity here in the mid 90s was a bubble that was going to burst sooner or later.

    The real problem is not just that it fell, but that it has fallen even below the pre-94 level of interest. (Actually I think it is probably even down to the pre-88 level.) That is where you have to look back at ISU for failing to fuel the system.

    I guess folks from other countries are asking why we think this topic is important. The answer is money. While skating enjoys great popularity in Russia and reached new heights in some Asian countries and maybe elsewhere, none of that makes up for the revenues the ISU looses from the US TV contract.

    For folks who have been watching skating for 25 years or more, I think it is probably also fair to say the entertainment value of ISU skating events has declined a lot in the last decade. The non-intuitive scoring produces results that look even more wrong than back when they were determined by protocols and judging deals. Changes in choreography and poor music choices driven by COP requirements and what it rewards and penalizes has caused skating to loose a lot of it's grace and elegance and, frankly, its watchability for me.
  28. PeterG

    PeterG Well-Known Member

    Hmm. I dunno. But I checked a map and Texas is just a few inches below Nebraska. Maybe there's a shuttle??

    Oops, sorry about that. I did not mean to imply that Canada was a real country. There are so many countries that are bigger and more important. Sorry again! :eek:
  29. algonquin

    algonquin Well-Known Member

  30. Judy

    Judy Active Member

    It is good to hear that other countries are experiencing increasing popularity with the sport!

    With North America (and I'll group the U.S. in there as key) I think the huge ratings after the Kerrigan fiasco led to gaining new fans but also lost a lot of fans when the scandals hit. I know that I lost interest for a number of years and have only slowly come back. As well I agree that people got sick of the contrived competition in the show skating .. pretty fixed right from the beginning!).

    In the U.S. it's huge that there isn't a woman star. There always has been but not anymore. Why is that? Is it that the women have had trouble adapting to the new requirements in the programs? Are the technical requirements too demanding and difficult now that it makes it impossible for a star to emerge? They used to pump them out year after year.

    And one thing that I think overall is more minor but in the "old" days you could tune to NBC or CBC and watch skating. Now sometimes it's on satellite and at odd hours. Likely it's a lot cheaper to broadcast this way but it might be at the expense of the viewers or the casual skating fan who doesn't think to do the work to find out what hour, week or month a competition is being broadcast.

    As for the galas - yes I agree with whoever posted that there doesn't seem to be a lot of effort put ino the galas anymore. That's why I don't do SOI .. perhaps one reason for the skaters is the technical requirements leave not much time to practice exhibitions.

    And yes the new judging system is hard to follow although I like it and prefer the technical requirements especially in dance now. I used to watch dance and think wtf? what is that? lol