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CNN Today

David Paro of SFX Sports Discusses NBC's Poor Olympic Ratings

Aired September 21, 2000 - 1:28 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, NBC is trying to make up for the disappointing ratings for the Olympics so far. The network has started running extra commercials to compensate advertisers for lower- than-anticipated audiences.

For some insight now, we're joined by David Paro. He's senior vice president of SFX Sports Group, which represents such big names as Michael Jordan, Andre Agassi, and Greg Norman.

Hi, how are you doing, David?

DAVID PARO, SFX SPORTS GROUP: I'm doing very well, thank you.

ALLEN: Well, it sounds like you need to shoot one of your big stars down there to Sydney to pump up these ratings. What do you make of this?

PARO: Well, going into this Olympics in Sydney, obviously, NBC was faced with some challenges. A 15-hour time difference is certainly significant. And, they made a choice that they were going to do things in a certain way, tape the coverage, not go live, as they're doing in Canada, and they're living by that decision and trying to move forward. The time difference, indeed, has a major impact, not to mention that, certainly, there have been a lack of compelling stories from a U.S. standpoint, as you typically might see in an Olympics, and that -- that has hurt them. So, they have to come back a little strong.

We still have some track and field and some other great events to come back. We'll see where it takes us.

ALLEN: I was going to say, Marion Jones hasn't taken to the field yet.

PARO: Marion Jones certainly...

ALLEN: Seeking her five gold.

PARO: Right, Marion Jones has put a lot of pressure on herself. And I think now, possibly one where it could really boost the ratings, maybe another one. But, I think she's up for the task. Michael Johnson is an exciting story, and there are some other stories that are going to come out that we might not have even think -- thought of at this point. The U.S. baseball team is doing pretty well. Some interesting things, we'll have to see where it goes.

But, certainly, NBC, they're in this more from a marathon standpoint than a short-term. This is one of a number of Olympics that they have committed to and -- and they're trying to make the best of a very tough situation.

ALLEN: Well, do you think a mistake, their decision to tape- delay everything?

PARO: Not necessarily, I think hindsight is always 20-20 on a case like this, and it's very easy to point fingers at NBC, and maybe not giving the same experience. They made a decision and they have to live by it. I think they could have done some things differently, possibly going with some of the cable side and going live in a different way. But, I think they are sticking to it, trying to create the best possible audience and hoping for some stories to come out to boost.

ALLEN: What do you think about just, just big picture, in general? I was reading an article in "The New York Times" that said people have a lot, so many options today for entertainment and information, even -- see the Olympics barely beat "Monday Night Football" and it's never been so close before.

FARO: Right, well, understand the Olympics typically isn't having to compete with football as well. And football, as you know, in this country, is a very dominate force from a television standpoint. And not just on Sundays or Monday nights, but also in the mind set of particularly the sports-fan consumer.

But you couple that with over the last four years, since, say, since Atlanta, the amount of communication and information that is available, in so many different ways, is so much stronger than it was just four years ago. That hardcore sports fan, if they wants the results, they can get them in a way that typically they haven't been able to, to watch on prime time, during the national broadcast of the Olympics.

ALLEN: David Paro, thanks. If anyone missed the swimming last night, they really missed something. So, hopefully the folks will tune back in. Thanks for joining us.

PARO: Thank you.

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