Olympic Reflections

U.S. Olympic Women's Basketball

U.S. Olympic Women

When trying to put down my thoughts about the meaning of the Beijing Olympics, I keep getting drawn back to this picture of Cappie Pondexter jumping on teammate Diana Taurasi in celebration of the U.S. Womens Gold Medal victory in Basketball–”She ain’t heavy, she’s my sister”–as the old song almost went. The Olympics show off the wonderful potpourri of races and ethnicities that is 21st Century America. Part of our joy that kept us transfixed to the screen for the past two weeks is a celebration of our diversity. What ever the talk from the pundit class about the incipient racism that may be impeding Obama’s campaign, I’m not buying it.

Media Effects

NBC won the lottery as far as the last two weeks went. Dick Ebersol, Pres. of NBC Sports explains.

As the Games neared, ad sales picked up — and, after the Games started off so well, they exploded. Mr. Ebersol said that in the end it may have been NBC’s good fortune that the country was going through some tough times.

“The economy was so dark,” Mr. Ebersol said. “But with $4 a gallon gas, more people were staying home. Many fewer were taking vacations.”

That made people both more available and more susceptible to the pull of the Olympics.

“When these Games came along, it was really at a point where the country was just ready for something they could really get crazy about,” he said.

Equally important for those of us that study digital technology, NBC put up 2200 hours of online video and had 72 million videos streamed in the U.S.

China

Despite what the China naysayers will tell you, I think the Olympics was a big win for China. As Nick Kristoff reported yesterday, Chinese Internet censorship is loosening and I don’t think this process will stop after the games. Chinese pride at no longer being regarded as “the sick man of Asia”, will allow this opening to continue. This is not to say that China is not going to be encountering economic headwinds as I wrote yesterday. The Wall Street Journal outlined three big problems for China in the next few years.

“Americans who worry that China might overtake the United States are worrying about the wrong thing,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson wrote in an article published last week. “Serious troubles in China’s economy could threaten the stability of the U.S. and global economies.”

Three challenges especially stand out for the Chinese: The nation’s changing work force, a widening in the gap between rich and poor and severely constrained supplies of energy and environmental resources.

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0 Responses to Olympic Reflections

  1. Adam says:

    It will be interesting to see if there is any change in China’s environmental policies given the relatively clean air Beijing enjoyed during the games.

  2. Adam says:

    It will be interesting to see if there is any change in China’s environmental policies given the relatively clean air Beijing enjoyed during the games.

  3. Fentex says:

    I think Chinas leadership is going to be extremely happy with their games.

    As I understand it absolutely nothing within their control (regarding the organisation and administration) went wrong, and very little outside their control occurred, and nothing worth mentioning to embarrass them.

    I imagine everyone involved will feel a pride for a job well done and see an affirmation of equal standing in the world of presenting such events.

    I generally feel quite conflicted about this sort of thing – in the context of the big event it’s a success but I personally don’t care for it and are more apt to worry about the lot of those whose homes get cleared away for the new facilities than if someone has an opportunity to win momentary fame.

    On the other hand there seems something worthy in the successful management of so much effort and pleasing in seeing design, engineering and administrative combine so effectively. The lure of society that a gregarious beast can’t look away from I suspect.

  4. Fentex says:

    I think Chinas leadership is going to be extremely happy with their games.

    As I understand it absolutely nothing within their control (regarding the organisation and administration) went wrong, and very little outside their control occurred, and nothing worth mentioning to embarrass them.

    I imagine everyone involved will feel a pride for a job well done and see an affirmation of equal standing in the world of presenting such events.

    I generally feel quite conflicted about this sort of thing – in the context of the big event it’s a success but I personally don’t care for it and are more apt to worry about the lot of those whose homes get cleared away for the new facilities than if someone has an opportunity to win momentary fame.

    On the other hand there seems something worthy in the successful management of so much effort and pleasing in seeing design, engineering and administrative combine so effectively. The lure of society that a gregarious beast can’t look away from I suspect.

  5. Rick Turner says:

    I guess a stabbed and murdered American guy isn’t worth mentioning, eh? Or did that pass you by? Chinese Teflon, it’s called… Fantastic PR spin, that…

  6. Rick Turner says:

    I guess a stabbed and murdered American guy isn’t worth mentioning, eh? Or did that pass you by? Chinese Teflon, it’s called… Fantastic PR spin, that…

  7. Fentex says:

    No, in the context, it isn’t. No more than the other statistically likely thousand murders that day which probably occurred around the world.

    If there’d been several, or a pattern or campaign of assault on foreigners then it would be relevant, but until I learn different that attack seems to have been a sad, stupid, tragic crime like many that occur with depressing regularity and no reflection on the Chinese in general nor very relevant to their efforts to host the Olympics.

  8. Fentex says:

    No, in the context, it isn’t. No more than the other statistically likely thousand murders that day which probably occurred around the world.

    If there’d been several, or a pattern or campaign of assault on foreigners then it would be relevant, but until I learn different that attack seems to have been a sad, stupid, tragic crime like many that occur with depressing regularity and no reflection on the Chinese in general nor very relevant to their efforts to host the Olympics.

  9. China did what they set out to do and that’s creating a spectacle of national pride. What the government can’t do is use that pride to eliminate pollution, provide clean water and create sufficient jobs. For the future, China is much more likely to follow the historic pattern of implosion than to lash out at the world.

  10. China did what they set out to do and that’s creating a spectacle of national pride. What the government can’t do is use that pride to eliminate pollution, provide clean water and create sufficient jobs. For the future, China is much more likely to follow the historic pattern of implosion than to lash out at the world.

  11. Gary Huang says:

    The real legacy of the Olympic games is reflected in the so-called protest zones that the government established. It’s symbolic of the larger issue with China – on the surface, it appears to be a gesture toward opening up and establishing more human rights. In fact, over the entire Olympics, not a single protest is allowed, and the protest zones actually serve as a method of clamping down on dissent, as the government arrests those courageous enough to apply for a permit. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/14/sports/olympics/14protest.html

    Also, on what basis do you believe that increased Chinese pride will lead to increased openness? Nationalism is carefully cultivated by the Chinese government, and love of country is equated with love of party. Chinese pride has led to overseas students throwing water bottles at Tibetan monks, to calls for boycotting French stores, but as for actual human rights and free speech, as Kristof notes, most Chinese don’t care.

  12. Gary Huang says:

    The real legacy of the Olympic games is reflected in the so-called protest zones that the government established. It’s symbolic of the larger issue with China – on the surface, it appears to be a gesture toward opening up and establishing more human rights. In fact, over the entire Olympics, not a single protest is allowed, and the protest zones actually serve as a method of clamping down on dissent, as the government arrests those courageous enough to apply for a permit. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/14/sports/olympics/14protest.html

    Also, on what basis do you believe that increased Chinese pride will lead to increased openness? Nationalism is carefully cultivated by the Chinese government, and love of country is equated with love of party. Chinese pride has led to overseas students throwing water bottles at Tibetan monks, to calls for boycotting French stores, but as for actual human rights and free speech, as Kristof notes, most Chinese don’t care.

  13. Alex Bowles says:

    Regarding the online video component – results here are very mixed. Yahoo! appears to have won the battle, and that’s without one hand very obviously tied behind its back.

    http://blog.wired.com/business/2008/08/nbc-and-yahoo-b.html

    Yes, NBCTV is making a big deal about the success there, but what happened on the online side is, frankly, an embarrassment.

    When you end up fudging numbers and sending out misleading press-releases to spin the fact that your biggest competitor – who didn’t even have access to most of the content – pulled in a bigger audience, you know you’re in bad shape.

    And it’s not like they didn’t have any warnings about the direction things are going – especially wit global events. A similar thing took place at least year’s Live Earth (also NBC). The ‘prime time’ broadcast pulled 2 million viewers. The relatively uncut Bravo feed got 18 million, and the MSN site drew well over 30 million. Moreover, the content / advertiser mix on the site was far more favorable to advertisers than the broadcasts, and the audience tracking data was exponentially more detailed.

    In other words, the real money is online. Whatever NBC made on the broadcast pales in comparison to the unknown sums left on the table by staying focused on broadcast at the expense of web cast.

    Their real problem may be the ‘National’ in NBC. What would happen if they started thinking about being iNBC – interNational. After all, the sponsors are global, and so is the audience.

    Yahoo! has many problems, but one serious advantage is the fact that is was built, from the ground up, as a global company, catering to people who expect what they want to be available when they want it.

    I know I was frustrated because I couldn’t discuss the opening with friends on the East Coast in real time – partly because NBC was working overtime to keep the show off the internet. I wasn’t alone.

    http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/08/10/nbc-upset-over-side-stepping-of-its-tape-delay-for-olympics-coverage/

    Of course, plenty of people like specific broad- cast windows, and the convenience of a big screen in the living room. But ‘protecting’ this revenue stream from the online world by limiting content is just crazy – especially when you’re in a position to make a single ad buy work in both places, and can offer far better targeting and tracking for online placements.

    I realize that TV can still make more money than Web, but if these guys aren’t willing to cannibalize their own revenue streams by developing models people actually like, folks will just route around altogether.

    And if you think it’s bad now, wait until 2012. I think we just saw the last installment of the broadcast-centric games. I wonder if London will be the premier of the Google games, with international broadcasters left to pick up whatever audiences don’t turn there first?

  14. Alex Bowles says:

    Regarding the online video component – results here are very mixed. Yahoo! appears to have won the battle, and that’s without one hand very obviously tied behind its back.

    http://blog.wired.com/business/2008/08/nbc-and-yahoo-b.html

    Yes, NBCTV is making a big deal about the success there, but what happened on the online side is, frankly, an embarrassment.

    When you end up fudging numbers and sending out misleading press-releases to spin the fact that your biggest competitor – who didn’t even have access to most of the content – pulled in a bigger audience, you know you’re in bad shape.

    And it’s not like they didn’t have any warnings about the direction things are going – especially wit global events. A similar thing took place at least year’s Live Earth (also NBC). The ‘prime time’ broadcast pulled 2 million viewers. The relatively uncut Bravo feed got 18 million, and the MSN site drew well over 30 million. Moreover, the content / advertiser mix on the site was far more favorable to advertisers than the broadcasts, and the audience tracking data was exponentially more detailed.

    In other words, the real money is online. Whatever NBC made on the broadcast pales in comparison to the unknown sums left on the table by staying focused on broadcast at the expense of web cast.

    Their real problem may be the ‘National’ in NBC. What would happen if they started thinking about being iNBC – interNational. After all, the sponsors are global, and so is the audience.

    Yahoo! has many problems, but one serious advantage is the fact that is was built, from the ground up, as a global company, catering to people who expect what they want to be available when they want it.

    I know I was frustrated because I couldn’t discuss the opening with friends on the East Coast in real time – partly because NBC was working overtime to keep the show off the internet. I wasn’t alone.

    http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/08/10/nbc-upset-over-side-stepping-of-its-tape-delay-for-olympics-coverage/

    Of course, plenty of people like specific broad- cast windows, and the convenience of a big screen in the living room. But ‘protecting’ this revenue stream from the online world by limiting content is just crazy – especially when you’re in a position to make a single ad buy work in both places, and can offer far better targeting and tracking for online placements.

    I realize that TV can still make more money than Web, but if these guys aren’t willing to cannibalize their own revenue streams by developing models people actually like, folks will just route around altogether.

    And if you think it’s bad now, wait until 2012. I think we just saw the last installment of the broadcast-centric games. I wonder if London will be the premier of the Google games, with international broadcasters left to pick up whatever audiences don’t turn there first?

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