Vancouver Day 8: Hockey hits the heights
There was a concern in many parts that once the men's hockey tournament started in Vancouver that the Olympics as we knew them were pretty much over. Hockey would likely dominate the Games, what with panels of experts dissecting everything from the defensive pairings to what kind of tape is being used on sticks.
Well, hockey's in the spotlight and it's not hard to understand why.
Thursday's Canada-Switzerland game, one of those David vs. Goliath things, averaged 6.8 million viewers on CTV and two French-language channels. The audience peaked at 12.1 million, according to BBM Canada overnight ratings,
The 5.02 million audience on CTV alone more than doubled that of Survivor on Global (2.45 million), which a lot of people apparently watch in the belief that it's actually real..
About 19 million Canadians tuned in to some part of the game, almost two-thirds of the country. And this was Switzerland, not exactly a traditional rival -- although the land of cheese and yodeling is starting to become one.
The fact Canada was pushed to a shootout may have been the best thing for CTV. Sunday's game against the U.S. was going to be a big draw anyway, but now the game takes on a lot more importance. There's already a feeling of panic in the streets.
Had the Swiss been bombarded the way Norway was in the tournament opener, Sunday's game might have been a formality.
Thursday was another big night for the CTV-Rogers consortium, which averaged 5.94 million in prime time. Next to hockey, the biggest draw was Christine Nesbitt's medal presentation: 4.1 million.
To put these audiences in perspective, Hockey Night In Canada is averaging around 2 million for its early game.
CTV SOUTH? People have long complained about NBC's American-centric coverage of the Olympics, a charge that never really was fair. Yes, when the Games were in the U.S. the flag-waving got a little nauseating out of control, but in general NBC is no more focused on their own athletes than any other broadcaster. But there might be some legitimate complaints this time around about NBC focusing too much on Canadians. It's almost as if NBC has adopted Canadian athletes. The other night, it showed Maelle Ricker's medal ceremony, including the anthem. Maybe that was for the benefit of Americans who watched the opening ceremony and may have wondered what our anthem really sounded like. Prior to the men's figure skating short program, NBC aired a feature on, guess who, Patrick Chan.
TANGLED WEB: One of the more challenging jobs at the Games is ensuring that all 10,000 media members and all the official broadcasters get enough bandwidth. How much? VANOC has compared its broadband needs to staging three Super Bowls for 17 consecutive days. The guys in charge of this are Avaya and Bell Canada and part of keeping the traffic flowing is anticipating the peak usage times. So far, the biggest come when the public hits websites like vancouver 2010.com and ctvolympics.com. ``People are streaming to their desks and watching three-minute recaps of the day's activities," says Dave Johnson, Avaya's general manager of Olympic programs. The other hot items are gold-medal events. So far, there have been 10 million video downloads at the CTV site. ... What's most amazing about the CTV site, other than the quality of the live feeds, is the ability to watch events with or without commentary on the world feed. You can also call up leader boards and statistics whenever you want.
THE GOOD: While it doesn't always produce great results, or even good results some time, the CTV fam-cam that focuses on athletes family has found some gold. The reaction of Christine Nesbitt's family after her race was great. ... Good analysis: Liz Manley on figure skating and Russ Howard on curlilng. ... There are so many features on CTV sometimes you wonder if you've tuned in to the Family Channel, But there's no denying their quality. Rick Hansen's features, like the one on Melissa Hollingsworth's relationship with her father, are great. So is the How Tough Are These Athletes? bits. It's hard to top Jacques Villeneuve flying down the skeleton track. ... Best view of the day: A cable-cam used on ski jumping gave viewers a pretty good idea of the speed involved in a sport that few know very well. .... NBC's Sandra Bezic on Patrick Chan's long program Thursday: ``Patrick Chan is an immense talent. He's just not baked yet.". ... CTV ski analyst Cary Mullen on the deteriorating course during Friday's men's Super G: ``You can't pull the Zamboni out halfway through this one." ... Best liline of the day came from James Duthie as he spoke with co-host Lisa LaFlamme moments after Tiger Woods' mea culpa: ``I want to apologize, Lisa, for my indiscretion," he said in typical Duthie deadpan. ``I used your powder puff earlier today."
THE BAD: All those super slo-mo shots are wonderful, but you really have to wonder what some of these producers and camera operators are thinking. During Friday's men's Super-G, things were delayed after a horrific crash involving a Swedish skier. As CTV analyst Brian Stemmle talked about ``the sick feeling" he had in watching medics tend to the skier, cameras focused on a bird sitting on a fence and, in super slo-mo, showed it taking off. Incredible. ... Here's a phrase that should be forever banned from all broadcasts: ``That's not what he was hoping for." It's used when somebody crashes on the first turn or falls down or trips over his own shoelaces. When that IS what he was hoping for, then we want to hear about it. ... Another phrase I'd like to hear less often: lactic acid. You hear it a dozen times in every race. I'm getting lactic intolerant.