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Good NY Times article on OLN, the TdF and American tele...(9 posts)

Good NY Times article on OLN, the TdF and American tele...BrianNYC
Jul 25, 2003 5:34 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/25/sports/sportsspecial/25sandomir.html
Ya gotta sign up to get the article...what a hassle. nmeschelon
Jul 25, 2003 6:05 AM
Yeah, I had to learn how to read too... Troll. nmspyderman
Jul 25, 2003 6:30 AM
So I'm a troll now, eh? Well FU. nmeschelon
Jul 25, 2003 7:06 AM
now you're a punkPoseur
Jul 25, 2003 12:56 PM
care to shoot for "fool"?
What's your beef? You his girlfriend or something? nmeschelon
Jul 25, 2003 1:22 PM
Here. Text.OldEdScott
Jul 25, 2003 6:37 AM
As Armstrong Rises, Network Rides Along
By RICHARD SANDOMIR

he Outdoor Life Network is a relatively modest sports channel that carries no major sports, and has not contemplated renaming itself something silly like Spike TV (the new name for TNN). But each July since 2001, OLN has reached beyond rodeo, fishing and team sniper shooting contests to carry the Tour de France.

Thanks to Lance Armstrong, the Tour is generating more interest, especially in the United States, than ever before, and it is the type of programming that can stamp a network's name in viewers' minds in the same way "Biography" helped give A&E an identity.

OLN's daily live Tour coverage (the successor to taped highlight shows by ESPN and ABC) proves that a niche sport - with an astonishing American star - can become a network's signature event.

"This is the kind of programming that people will want to find on their dial," Roger Williams, OLN's president, said yesterday by telephone from Bordeaux, France. But OLN isn't widely available, even in the expanding digital cable universe. With 54 million subscribers, it is more than 30 million short of ESPN's subscriber base.

OLN began its Tour coverage in 2001 as part of a four-year deal, then extended the agreement in late 2002 through the end of the decade. OLN's first Tour coincided with Armstrong's third consecutive victory. The network would be a primary beneficiary of what could be Armstrong's fifth straight victory when this year's event concludes Sunday in Paris.

The 30.4-mile individual time trial tomorrow (on OLN at 9 a.m. Eastern) is considered crucial to his chances.

"Lance is to the Tour what Michael Jordan was to the N.B.A.," Williams said.

Last year, between live coverage and replays, OLN generated a 0.8 Nielsen rating (or 336,000 TV households). The network had 42 million subscribers at the time. Now, with its subscriber rolls up to 54 million, the 1.9 rating equals 1 million homes.

But a post-Lance falloff may be inevitable, similar to the drop in ratings for pro basketball during Jordan's retirements.

Williams is planning beyond 2004, when Armstrong may ride his last Tour. He is hoping to create a series of regional races in conjunction with the International Cycling Union and Amaury Sports Organization, the Tour's rights holder, to identify the next American stars, and to bring the first three or four stages of the Tour to the United States.

The Tour is the signature event on a network that has purposely avoided signing expensive deals to carry traditional sports. "I knew there was an abundance of product to buy without being held hostage by the major rights holders," said Williams, a former head of sales and marketing at ESPN.

In a way, OLN is a huge version of the early "Wide World of Sports" on ABC, which was filled with events like barrel jumping and Acapulco cliff diving that no other network wanted or knew about.

Cliff diving is now seen on OLN, and this year the network began carrying the Professional Bull Riders' Built Ford Tough Series.

It wanted another event in July to "extend the bull franchise," as Williams put it. The result was nightly coverage of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, complete with opening and closing ceremonies and the first continuous American coverage of the event.

One requirement of OLN's deal with Amaury is to buy time on a broadcast network for a weekly highlights show. CBS takes over on the Tour's three Sundays with a taped summary of the week's events, and is the first to show the final stage into Paris (Sunday from 5 to 6 p.m.).

OLN will follow from 8 to 11 p.m. with taped coverage of the stage. In 2005, Williams said, the network will shift to live Sunday coverage, figuring the audience is different for each of its productions.

"The CBS version is for casual viewers, with the emphasis on stories,'' said Victor Frank, the coordinating producer of CBS's coverage.
Thanks Old Ed (nm)PEDDLEFOOT
Jul 25, 2003 6:46 AM
Thanks for posting! nmnoveread
Jul 25, 2003 8:41 AM