Web sites to augment Olympic coverage

January 17, 2002|By Candus Thomson

Don't know your Lutz from you Salchow? Does explaining the Iron Cross make you Daffy or maybe just a little goofy?

Not to worry. This year's Winter Games come with an online primer, courtesy of NBC.

Through its Web site, www.nbcolympics.com and nbcsports.com, casual fans and rabid ring-heads can brush up on figure skating moves, take a video ride down the bobsled run or listen to Olympic legends tell of their glory days.

Tom Feuer, coordinating producer of both sites, says that while the sites sizzle, the key to the Web operation is providing information in a format that's close to real time, from results to TV schedule changes.

Marketing research indicates that the main audience for previous Olympics was women, ages 25-44, interested in figure skating.

However, Feuer says these games might be different, with "considerably more" young men drawn by post-Sept. 11 patriotism and the X Games quality of luge, skeleton and skiing events.

Feuer, who was involved in the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney with the now-defunct Quakka.com, says he learned a great deal from the dazzling site, which didn't always deliver.

The NBC sites are easier to navigate and provide support information to enhance understanding of the competition.

Each sport has an equipment list and glossary with photos, so that first-time viewers of the freestyle aerial competition can tell a spread-eagle Daffy from a tuck position Iron Cross. Researchers have prepared 2,430 biographies of athletes and a history of the Winter Games. With a production team of 46, Feuer hopes to have results posted within 15 seconds of the end of an event.

"Our audience isn't the tech-savvy person," Feuer says. "We worked on the `Keep It Simple, Stupid' premise this time."

Still, he says there will be some "whizz-bang stuff." For example, viewers will be able rate players during hockey matches.

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