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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 06:07 PM   #1
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Kwan Says Thanks, but No, to NBC's Offer

Kwan Says Thanks, but No, to NBC's Offer

By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television WriterMon Feb 13, 8:52 AM ET



Michelle Kwan won't be on the ice, and she won't be behind a microphone either. Soon after an injured Kwan bowed out of the games, NBC executives courted the athlete they had banked on being its biggest draw, hoping to lure her into the broadcast booth.

But Kwan turned down the job offer, saying she didn't want to be a distraction for remaining members of the U.S. Olympic figure skating team, NBC Sports spokesman Michael McCarley said Sunday.

The star withdrew from the Olympics on Sunday because of a strained groin muscle, ending her quest for her first gold medal in what was expected to be one of the most compelling stories in Turin.

NBC Sports had first contacted Kwan's agent in January, when it had appeared unlikely that she would be competing, McCarley said. NBC Universal Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol made Sunday's offer only an hour after her news conference, when she had come to NBC's studios to be interviewed by Bob Costas.

Women's figure skating traditionally is the most-watched Winter Olympics event, and Kwan is its biggest star. More women than men usually watch the Winter Games, and that's due largely to figure skating.

"It's like a lead actor leaving a series," said Marc Berman, television analyst for Media Week Online. "It's not positive."

NBC broke into its overnight rebroadcast of its prime-time coverage at 4:20 a.m. EST to report Kwan's withdrawal.

"She's probably the most significant athlete at these Olympic Games," said skating analyst Scott Hamilton. "And so for her to pull out is a gigantic story, and a loss for the U.S. team because so much of the focus was going to be on her."

Even if Kwan had stayed, national champion Sasha Cohen was likely to be the U.S. team's best hope for a gold medal in figure skating, McCarley said. Viewers tune in because of the Olympic experience, not necessarily because of athletes they knew beforehand.

"Stars emerge during the games themselves — not before," McCarley said.

Recognizing the importance of figure skating, NBC had hired well-known skating analyst Dick Button for its broadcast team. NBC also inaugurated a daily one-hour show just on skating, airing each evening on the USA Network.

Kwan's withdrawal will hurt NBC most in attracting casual viewers who might not have watched much Olympics coverage otherwise — the type of person who transforms something merely popular into a television event, Berman said.

"I'm not a die-hard viewer of the Olympics," he said. "But I wanted to watch Michelle Kwan. And I would have gone out of my way to watch it."

NBC's rivals aggressively are trying to compete against the Olympics this year. Fox, for instance, will air four "American Idol" episodes during the Olympics, and each "Idol" episode so far this season has had more viewers than the Olympics opening ceremony did on Friday.

The opening ceremony was seen by 22.8 million people on Friday — half the number of viewers for the opening of the Salt Lake City games four years ago.

"Nobody expected them to do 45 million again," Berman said. "To lose about half the audience — that's big. That's dangerous. That's very dangerous."

NBC rebounded Saturday, when its viewership went up to 23.6 million people on what is usually the least-watched night of the week on television. It was still below the 29.4 million who watched the second night of Salt Lake City, but higher than Nagano eight years ago.
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 06:23 PM   #2
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nbc fvckin expects her to get over it just like that.
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 06:25 PM   #3
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I also was looking forward to watching her but the figure skating is still fun.

If I were her the last thing I'd want to do would be stick around and publicly watch the others taking my place.
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 06:31 PM   #4
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I do not thnk she gonna watch..it hurts her a lot....wont bee asy for her to get it over...
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 09:38 PM   #5
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what idiots---> like she was going to say: " yeah, why not!" now watch their ratings drop like stones.
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 11:38 PM   #6
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I don't blame her at all, I would'nt want to speak to anyone at all until the Olympic games were over if I were Michelle....
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 02:01 PM   #7
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NBC Unbloody believable. What a sincere move after saaying her withdrawal will lose them their ratings....
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 03:10 PM   #8
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And this is the network whose Today Show personality kept saying Emily got bumbed from the Olympic team because of Michelle when Emily was never nominated to the team to begin with.
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 07:39 PM   #9
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Kwan never whined or complained when her place was taken by Nancy Kerrigan...
Tough decision for her to withdraw....
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