MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- "Citius, Altius, Fortius" -- "Swifter, Higher, Stronger" in English -- goes the international Olympics motto. But the U.S. Olympic Committee wasn't so swift recently, at least when it announced in July that it planned to pair up with Comcast to create an Olympics channel.
It dropped the idea after NBC and the IOC put on a swift, high and strong protest, with the implicit threat that proceeding could jeopardize or jettison altogether Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Games.
This allowed the USOC and Comcast to bow out gracefully, with USOC President Larry Probst telling the AP that "we want to see Chicago win the bid. Anything we can help to support them, we're going to do that."
It was a pirouette that may have earned a 10.0 from the judges. But it shouldn't have taken the citius, altius or fortius of the IOC to scrap its plan. Instead, another Latin word -- Versus -- should have done it, as all Comcast had to do was look at their own Vs. network's ratings of the world Track and Field Championships to realize that when it comes to most Olympic sports, viewers have a huge hunger -- for about two weeks, once every four years.
This week's coverage on Vs., for instance, has averaged about a 0.1/0 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic. Comparatively, ABC debuted "Shaq Vs." last night, which joined its previous summer schlock sports series, "The Superstars," which averaged a 1.2/4. "Shaq Vs.," in which basketball superstar Shaquille O'Neill takes on other jocks in their own sports, premiered with a 1.7/5, which was the same rating as "More to Love," Fox's dating show featuring contestants who look not like Olympic athletes (including Shaq) but rather the rest of us.
Shaq's show lost to what now passes as the other national (summertime) pastime, watching reality TV, as the night's top three shows were CBS's "Big Brother" (3.0/9), NBC's "America's Got Talent" (3.1/9) and "Hell's Kitchen" (3.5/12), which led Fox to first with an overall 2.6/8 (just above NBC's 2.5/8. CBS was third with a 2.0/6, while ABC and the CW finished fourth and fifth with a 1.4/4 and a.3/1, respectively.)
To be sure, there will be Olympic sports on TV outside of the games. Indeed, what perhaps most upset NBC was that it might compete against Universal Sports, which plans to move the Olympic movement along in-between games by broadcasting some sports not highly rated enough to merit NBC coverage.
|See how all the shows did in the ratings.|
But its expectations, too, should be low. After all, if Usain Bolt's electrifying run, in which he set a new world record in the 100-meter dash (he broke another record in today's 200-meter race), can't come close to Shaq -- let alone those shacking up on "Big Brother" -- Olympic caliber athletes will probably remain quadrennial curiosities for most American viewers.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Wednesday: TV: Whether you revere or revile it, it's always interesting, if not a video mirror to the national soul. All of which is a fancy way of saying don't feel guilty about watching "Octomom: The Incredible Unseen Footage" on Fox.< br /> Thursday: Miniseries maxed out a while ago, but one of the best was "Lonesome Dove," which will be played in its entirety (DVR alert!) on AMC.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
A surprising amount of Nielsen families to watch the Octomom's family.
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NOTE: All ratings based on adults 18-49. A share is a percentage of adults 18-49 who have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all adults 18-49, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. adults 18-49 population with TVs. Ratings quoted in this column are based on live-plus-same-day unless otherwise noted. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of commercial-minute, live-plus-three-days viewing.)
John Rash is senior VP-director of media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.