24 February, 2010

Olympic Hockey Rules The Day for Canadians and Ratings

As the 2010 Winter Olympics roll on in brilliant and beautiful Vancouver on Canada's west coast the event most prized in the eyes of the host nation is the Men's Ice Hockey competition. The Games of these Olympiad have moved through tragedy and difficulty towards triumph and as the competition settles in for its 2nd half there is plenty of more excitement in store.

CTV, owned by CTVglobemedia, the television network in Canada with the rights to televise the Olympics, much like NBC in the US, has several programming partners helping to deliver a full slate of live events to Canadians across the country. This standing in stark contrast to the much maligned and debated NBC approach of tape-delaying full events so they can be shown in prime time.

So back to Canadians and the love for ice. The Men's Hockey competition, featuring a who's who of the National Hockey League was the spotlight event of these games, and viewership certainly hasn't disappointed so far. In the preliminary round a marquee match-up between the host Canadians and strong American team became the most watched television event in the history of Canada, with an Average viewership of over 11Million and a peak of 13Million.

To put this in perspective, 33Million people live in Canada, meaning 40% of the country was watching a preliminary round game. America's yearly spectacle that is the Superbowl just attracted the largest audience in history at over 100Million, a slightly lower percentage. Is hockey a new marketing power? In the US the game was shown live on cable network MSNBC and it drew almost a record in terms of viewership, only bested by election night coverage of now US President Barack Obama. The Olympics have been a ratings win for NBC and its affiliates and for the company, despite the swelling online-community grumbling over tape-delays, viewers are coming out to watch the network's coverage.

Average ratings are sitting in the US at about a 14.5, meaning about 26Million viewers, which is up 20% for the last Olympics Games in Turin, but expectantly down from home-hosted Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002. NBC had even beaten American Idol and have become the most dominant Olympics in terms of ratings wins. A good breakdown of the numbers can be found at The Crowe's Nest (Link).

While the numbers are very good, they still pale in terms of coverage that the Canadian networks have been receiving for their hockey broadcasts and analysis. For the Canadian Men to go for Gold they have to play and win 4 games in 6 nights and if they get there, CTV can expect home run after home run in their coverage and with their advertisers. One down for the Canadians yesterday and today's Match-up with the Russians in the Quarterfinals looks to break even more records in the domestic market. How much would a network rake in if it could broadcast a Superbowl 4 times in 6 days? This is why in this country, in the end, hockey rules the day.

08 February, 2010

New Orleans Saints are Superbowl Champs but what of the Commercials?

A football team embraced by a city as escapism; and for the excitement it provided the residents of New Orleans following the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, has now come full circle to offer its hometown the celebration it deserves and desires. The New Orleans Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts in Superbowl XLIV, the 44th such contest of football's conference champions, and sent the French Quarter and the surrounding and still rebuilding areas into a frenzy that's likely the continue well into Mardi Gras.

As much as the spectacle of the Superbowl is remembered for what happens on the field, it gets almost as much attention for what happens in between the action. Commercials, are always a hot ticket and with price tags in the $2.5Million to $3Million range for a spot this year it was up to corporations to deliver catchy, memorable and likable ads. A game that featured two of the league's top Quarterbacks was sure to be a windfall for CBS Corp. (CBS), and early ratings would suggest that's the case. A report this morning puts viewership of the game at a 23 year high. That's a lot of eyeballs watching the players on the field and all those commercials.

Alcohol always seems to go after the comedic bone with Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) and its legendary stable of Superbowl spots. The Clydesdale's, the Wassup guys, the Frogs and more have all pushed Budweiser Beer onto the masses for years with recent Bud Light ads becoming the "lighter" touch. This year's game featured the musical technique known as Auto-tune with several men crooning to each other over the phone after getting some Bud Light. The ad also featured Auto-tunes foremost proponent Mr. "I'm In Love With A Stripper" T-Pain, or as he's known amongst the younger hipster crowd, the dude on the [expletive] boat with Andy Samberg.

Motorola (MOT) went for comedy and sex appeal as it showed off its new Android powered smartphone the Devour. Using Google's (GOOG) Android operating system and its own MOTOBLUR interface, Motorola looks to continue the successful smartphone push it has enjoyed on Verizon (VZ) with the Droid. The ad featured a bubble bathing Megan Fox pondering what if any consequences would arise from her sending a photo of herself in the bath. Subsequently men all over the country are instantly distracted and much chaos ensues. The company has even put several out-takes from the ad on its website.

Staying with Google for a moment, the company for the first time has decided to advertise on this big a stage. The results, one part sappy, one part romantic, one part technology and all parts effective for portraying the message of Google being THE destination to find anything. The ad features the main Google search screen as a story unfolds of Boy meets French Girl, Boy searches for ways to impress French Girl, Boy Searches for flights to France, Boy searches for work in France, Boy searches for chapels in France, Boy searches for help building a crib.

Discount Brokerage and Superbowl mainstay E*Trade (ETFC) brought back its popular baby investors with a little twist, female companions and a new catch-phrase "milk-a-holic".

Taken together, the ads this year have according to early reviews been lacking the punch of previous incarnations, but sifting through the mass of advertisements, which are all featured on a special YouTube channel one can still find some that will undoubtedly be talked about over the water-cooler for the week to come.

Disclosure: Author owns GOOG, VZ