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Remote Viewing: Olympic Diehards Turn to Canada for Live Broadcast

Aired September 25, 2000 - 1:55 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you have heard us say this before: Despite the excitement of the athletes going for the gold at the Sydney Olympics, many of the fans consider the television coverage of the games a dud.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Some Olympic diehards are looking elsewhere to watch the action, even sacrificing sleep.

CNN's Ed Garsten explains all this.

WATERS: Not that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LANNY MILLS, GYMNASTICS INSTRUCTOR: Push!

ED GARSTEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gymnastics instructor Lanny Mills likes to push his students to perfection. But, these days, Mills is pushing himself just to stay awake.

MILLS: Today, for example, I got up at 3:45 because the men's gymnastics team finals ran at 4:00 Eastern Standard Time.

GARSTEN: Lanny and his students could simply sleep in and wait for NBC's tape-delayed broadcast of the Sydney Olympics, but that kind of coverage isn't winning high marks with them. So they're defecting to the Canadian network CBC, which carries extensive live coverage of the games, despite the 15-hour time difference.

MILLS: To me, personally, that's pretty important to see it as it's happening, as opposed to after the fact.

GARSTEN: That's what the barflies at Nemo's Saloon in Detroit are saying, too. They want their games in the here and now, not the taped and later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You hear it on the news and who cares? Once you know the outcome, nobody really cares too much about it at that point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CBC Olympics, hello.

GARSTEN: At the CBC's audience relations department, the phone's been ringing off the hook with Americans desperate to find out how to receive their live broadcasts.

SHANE GERARD, CBC AUDIENCE RELATIONS: Some guy from Boston phoned me today and said: You know, is there a bar -- do you know in Boston where I can see you in?

GARSTEN: The answer will probably be no. Only viewers in cities near the U.S.-Canadian border or who own very large C-band satellite dishes can receive CBC broadcasts.

(on camera): Regardless of whether the coverage is live or tape delayed, networks on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border are finding so far, the Sydney Olympics are a tough sell.

(voice-over): They're on the screens at Troy, Michigan sports bar The Spectadium, but few are watching.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So far, they have not been a real big draw.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I gave up about three or four scandals ago.

TIM KISKA, TV WRITER, DETROIT NEWS: They're pulling some people in, but curiously, the numbers are way down from four years ago.

GARSTEN: But ratings matter little to the CBC's decision to broadcast the Olympics live regardless of time zone.

NANCY LEE, EXEC. DIRECTOR, CBC SPORTS: Our philosophy in the sports department is: If it's a sporting event that's happening, we should have it on live.

GARSTEN: And that philosophy is winning a gold medal with U.S. viewers willing to lose a little sleep to watch the games live.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enjoy the games. All the best to you.

GARSTEN: Ed Garsten, CNN, Troy, Michigan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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