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How to Bring Fans Back to the Winter Olympics

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

While many skaters showed perfect form, commentator Frank Deford says NBC has not.

NBC: At the end of the day, though, it may simply be that the Winter Olympics are, foremost, a television game show, and history tells us that all T.V. shows eventually grow weary, stale, flat and unprofitable and get cancelled. It was Roone Arledge, ABC's programming genius, who conceived how to package the Games for an American audience. First, he played up quaint location--cue the cuckoo clocks and the lederhosen, the snow, the mountains, the ice, the sequins. He pursued an audience that didn't usually care all that much for sports; that is, in a word, women.

: A few of us will settle anymore for ersatz drama on tape delay when we already know who won. Sure, the Winter Games will do better four years hence when they're back on our body clock in Vancouver, but unless somebody figures out how to update Arledge, the Winter Olympics will just continue on as another musty old show, struggling to keep share and to stay off cable.

INSKEEP: The comments of Frank Deford, senior contributing writer at Sports Illustrated. He does the triple axel each Wednesday for member station WSHU in Fairfield, Connecticut. This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

MONTAGNE: And I'm Renee Montagne. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Frank Deford
Frank Deford died on Sunday, May 28, at his home in Florida. Remembrances of Frank's life and work can be found in All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and on NPR.org.