Looks like America’s remaining little window on non-Olympic figure skating is set to stay open for a while. This press release announced today that U.S. Figure Skating has reached an agreement with NBC to extend its multi-year partnership through the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. What does this mean to you, the eager-to-watch viewer? I can only speak in terms of the coming season, as that is all that was mentioned in the release:
+ It means you’ll get to watch 2 hours of Skate America, live (ladies final only), from 2-4PM ET on November 15.
+ It (unofficially) means for the rest of the ISU events of the Grand Prix season, you’ll have to subscribe to Ice Network or pray you can catch a program or two on You Tube before it gets yanked by The Powers That Be.
+ It means you’ll get 8 hours of competitive Nationals coverage (and 2 hours of exhibition stuff) come next January.
+ It means they’ve structured Nationals so that two finals (Pairs and Men’s) air live one weekend, while the other two (Dance and Ladies) air live a whole weekend later. (I can’t recall if they did that this past season or not).
+ It means the 10 total hours of Nationals coverage will be “the most network coverage of this event since 1998”, according to the release.
+ It means NBC is happy to boast that Nationals’ ratings in “the first year of the agreement” (which was 2008 I believe) were up 164 percent over the previous year’s coverage on ABC/ESPN2.
+ It means we even got a bit of interesting trivia: Those 2008 Nationals (or U.S. Championships, as they’re officially called) were “the most-watched U.S. Championships since 2003, when the event benefited from the lift that figure skating received from the 2002 Salt Lake Games.” I found this a little amusing because the first thing that came to my mind with the 2003 Nationals was the “Disaster in Dallas”, AKA the senior men’s final. Remember that?
+ Oh… and it also means that no deal seems to be struck yet with regards to coverage for 2010 Worlds. Sigh.
Anyway, go check out the press release for more details and quotes from executives all around… as well as more information that you ever wanted to know about USFS, Ice Network, NBC, etc. (all have at least a paragraph mention at the end).
Then bow your head in thanks for the fact that skating is still getting ANY TV coverage in America.
But as you’re doing that, you might want to add a quick prayer that IceNetwork finds a way to share all their coverage with a broadcast network—NBC or otherwise. Like I say in the top left corner of the blog… Let’s keep the skating where everyone can see it!
(Maybe a pipe dream at this point…yes, I know. But it still needs to be said.)
For anyone not sure of what the “Disaster in Dallas” was all about, check out this Clip of the Day. Johnny Weir wasn’t the only one having problems that night, to be certain, but they were certainly noteworthy. Pay attention to the story Button tells about “falling on his face” once in a performance, then being so angry he couldn’t see straight, yet still finishing his routine… just as Weir finishes his performance prematurely.