"Inside Out" File Under Olympics Narrative / Marketing Scheme
"In a provocative interview in the current New Yorker, NBC Sports
researcher Nicholas Schiavone reveals that the age old "nature vs. nurture"
argument fuels the network's Olympics coverage."
"In more than 10,000 interviews over six years that helped NBC mold the
kind of coverage people want, the network found that while what Schiavone
considers the three elements of human nature – "think, feel, do" – apply
to both sexes, men and women use them in different ways."
"I think it's partly the genetic code, but I think that society also
encourages the two different perspectives, because they are complementary
– the emotional dimension and the rational dimension," said Schiavone."
"The researcher went on to say that because women are the childbearers, the
human race comes from the "inside out.""
""It's nature, nurture and physiology. I wonder if the appeal of the
Olympics to women the way we [at NBC] do it, 'inside out,' is that life
itself comes from inside out, whereas men take a more externalized
approach. You could say we dwell in the tension between male and female,
the external and the internal," said Schiavone."
"In so many words, what Schiavone and, by extension, NBC, are suggesting is
that while men are happy with the event itself, women need to know who the
participants in the event are and how they can identify with them…"
– Quoted from Milton Kent's "Media Watch" column, Baltimore Sun, August 2,
1996, Page 8D
This has nothing to do with "new media", as such, but it does point to a
mildly interesting case study in how media and capital teach new dogs old
tricks. A male friend mentioned over last weekend (July 28th) that they
were more interested in the "soft-focus narratives" surrounding the
athletes in the Olympics, than in the coverage of the results of the
athletic competitions. This topic had come up a number of times in
conversations over the previous two weeks with my significant other (a
female) as we watched these phenomena unfold. Of course, I open the
mailbox on Monday (July 30th) to find a copy of the 8/5/96 edition of The
New Yorker which contains a "Letter from Atlanta" subtitled "Inside-Out
Olympics: NBC finds its feminine side" written by David Reminck. The
article (which contains the interview excerpted in the article above among
other things) discusses some of the strategy on NBC's part to make sports
more palatable to a female viewership (and bring higher ratings, profits
etc.). If you watched this jingoistic spectacle anyway (as I did) and
absorbed a lethal dosage of NBC's five ring telecast philosophy, the
article (which hints at film and feminist theory) may move a few synapses
in other than sporting and patriotic directions. And think, I thought it
was safe to be a women's sports fan.
For the USA Today Female Athlete Marketing Angle Check Out: