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Posts Tagged ‘Jim Bell’

‘Today’ EP: Olympics a ‘Cleansing Moment’ For The NBC Morning Show

The excutive producer of NBC’s “Today” and the network’s Olympics coverage, Jim Bell, speaks to The Hollywood Reporter‘s Marisa Guthrie in a London 2012 postmortem interview.

Questions about NBC’s Olympics coverage abound, as well as the morning show’s ratings struggles:

The Hollywood Reporter: How will the Olympics provide Today with forward momentum?

Jim Bell: For the Today show, the Olympics were a cleansing moment. It was a lot of fun to be in the midst of such a big event and maximize exposure to people who might not have been watching. Moving forward, we’ve got to convince some of those people that they might want to stick around.

He added later:

Obviously, the first half of 2012 was tougher for us. I don’t need to sugarcoat it. It was tough. But London felt big and special. And it reminded everybody — even us — how lucky we are to be able to work on this show.

Since returning to New York, the show finds itself at risk once again. “Today” won Monday in the ratings, but fell to “Good Morning America” in total viewers on Tuesday. “Today” is pulling out all the stops this week, scheduling high-profile concerts every day, and having Olympic athletes on to serve as special contributors.

Related: My behind the scenes look at “Today” during the Olympics.

Jim Bell on Savannah Guthrie, Olympic Ratings, and Tape Delays

SiriusXM host Chris Russo spoke with “Today” show EP Jim Bell, who is also executive producer for NBC’s coverage of the London Olympics. Russo and Bell talked about both “Today’s” recent changes and the blockbuster ratings so far for NBC’s coverage of the London games.

Russo: “Have you been happy with Savannah Guthrie so far?”

Bell: “I love Savannah Guthrie. We’ve been thrilled with Savannah Guthrie. She’s an amazing talent, a lawyer. She’s got a big personality. She’s smart. I think the thing about the Today show is, you know, it really is, it’s the smart show, it’s the show really where people want to know the news and focus on what’s going on in the world, but also from people that they know, like and trust. And she certainly has been everything we’d hoped for.”

Russo: “In your wildest dreams did you think [the Olympic ratings would] be this good?”

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There Are Spoiler Alerts, and Then There are Spoiler Alerts

“Today” show EP Jim Bell has turned his full attention to the Olympics. While racking up ratings gold as the executive producer of NBC’s primetime coverage, (28.7 million watched Saturday night, the most ever for the first day of competition) Bell is also seeing the criticism about why NBC isn’t showing more events live — a critique that comes up every four years. (With the next Summer games in Rio de Janiero, more events will be live in the U.S. as Rio is only one hour ahead of the East Coast, compared to London’s 5-hour time difference)

Bell has gone so far as to respond to some viewers directly.

Bell, in some of his back-and-forth with online critics Sunday, answered one tweeter who described herself as a St. Louis mom and complained about NBC’s “Nightly News” on Saturday airing results of events that hadn’t been shown on the network yet. Bell tweeted that he’d look into it, and shortly after told her that “Nightly News” would announce a “spoiler alert” to tell people to avert their eyes if they didn’t want to see results.

The thing is, Brian Williams did give a spoiler alert, albeit  in a round about way, right at the top of the broadcast:

Good evening from London. While we try to be sensitive about spoiler alerts for our viewers who like to watch the Olympic games in prime time here on NBC and let the story play out, the news we begin with here tonight has already rocketed all the way around the world.

That was Ryan Lochte beating Michael Phelps in the 400-meter individual medley hours earlier.

Sunday night’s spoiler alert was more upfront, though it came 7 minutes into the newscast as “Nightly” began with political and international news before getting to the Olympics:

If you don’t want to see the results, close your eyes or look away for a moment. We won’t say anything on the air to give it away, but it will be on the screen, and then we will tell you when it’s safe to look back.

2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony Most Watched Ever For NBC, More Than 40 Million Tune In

NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics was the most watched opener ever, with an average of over 40 million Americans tuning in.

This was despite (or due to?) a tape delay that meant that U.S. viewers would see the events unfold hours after they actually happened in London.

Regardless, the 40.7 million average is higher than the 1996 Atlanta games, which had held the previous ratings record with 39.8 million viewers. Beijing 2008 drew 34.9 million viewers, and Athens 2004 drew 25.4 million.

The Ceremony was anchored by Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Bob Costas, with Jim Bell serving as EP. Filmmaker Danny Boyle directed the Ceremony

The Technology, And The People, Behind This Year’s Olympics

The International Broadcast Centre in London

The New York Times has a pair of profiles today, as Richard Sandomir speaks to NBC’s top Olympics producer (and “Today” EP) Jim Bell, while Brian Stelter examines what it takes to put the games on the air.

While Bell has managed NBC’s top morning news show for the last few years, he got his start at the Olympics.

Bell, 44, a former defensive lineman at Harvard who is 6 feet 4 and about 250 pounds, recalled an incident that occurred at the tail end of the Barcelona Games. He was told he quickly had to rustle up video of the marathon’s last-place finisher — a half-blind Mongolian named Pyambu Tuul. Tuul was nearly two hours behind the winner and had to finish outside the Olympic stadium, which was being readied for the closing ceremony.

“I chased it down through a healthy mixture of fear and desperation,” Bell said. “It was difficult to find because the Olympics were essentially over. But I found it in some host broadcasting cabin in a little cabinet where they’d brought the tape back. I pleaded with them to give me a dub of it.”

And, he added, “Bob Costas eloquently told the story of how this guy simply came to the Olympics to compete.”

With regards to the tech, NBC has prepared redundancy after redundancy, and has used technology to make little things like the Atlantic Ocean significantly less of a burden.
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‘GMA’ In Strong Position To Win Savannah Guthrie’s First Official Week On ‘Today’

As we have noted, ABC’s “Good Morning America” topped NBC’s “Today” in both total viewers and adults 25-54 Monday and Tuesday. That trend continued on Wednesday, with the ABC morning program handily topping NBC in both total and demo viewers, according to Nielsen Fast Affiliate data.

For the week so far, “GMA” is topping “Today” in total viewers by 360,000, and in the demo by 40,000. “GMA” has been see-sawing with “Today” in total viewers over the last few months, but the NBC morning program has held on to its demo lead, at least for now. Final numbers will be in next Thursday, July 19.

Because this is Savannah Guthrie‘s first official week as co-host of the morning program, the shows are under extra scrutiny. The New York Daily News spoke to “Today” EP Jim Bell about the ratings this week:

Jim Bell, executive producer of “Today,” said he isn’t concerned: “We’ve had three great shows this week,” he said Wednesday, “and we couldn’t be happier with the new ‘Today’ team.”

“After more than 60 years, we aren’t in the business of making any conclusions after two days of unofficial numbers.”

NBC Exec: Olympics ‘stalwarts of the shared American experience’

NBC Olympics production chief (and “Today” EP) Jim Bell talks to Vanity Fair about the upcoming games. Bell talks about big stories for thew games, tape delays, and a subject that he has been dealing with at his other job, ratings:

How much of a concern are television ratings going into the Olympics, especially knowing how much viewing habits have changed in the past few years? Do you have a different overall goal or marker for NBC’s performance?

We’re always focused on ratings and even with shifts in viewing habits, there is still a tremendous appetite for big events, like the Olympics and the Super Bowl. These are stalwarts of the shared American experience and will be for a very long time. The Olympics are unique because they dominate the country’s attention for more than two weeks and are among the most-watched events of all time. Beijing was seen by 215 million viewers in 2008.

Savannah Guthrie Named Co-Anchor of NBC’s ‘Today’

It’s official: NBC News has named Savannah Guthrie the new co-anchor of “Today.”

Guthrie, who co-anchored the program this morning, will officially debut on July 9. The announcement of her promotion comes a day after Ann Curry‘s tearful farewell to “Today” after just a year as Matt Lauer‘s co-anchor.

In a statement, “Today” show executive producer Jim Bell called Guthrie a “standout,” praising her “one-of-a-kind combination of sharp wit and approachability.”

“I’m thrilled to welcome Savannah as our newest co-anchor, and along with Matt, Al and Natalie, we’ve got the best morning team in the business,” he said.

Guthrie has been the program’s 9am co-host since June 2011. NBC did not announce who will succeed her in that role.

Guthrie joined NBC in 2007. Before joining “Today,” she spent three years as the network’s chief White House correspondent. In her new role, she will remain chief legal correspondent for NBC.

More from Bell, and from NBC News president Steve Capus, in the full release after the jump.

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Cash, Cramming and Ann Curry During NBC London Olympics Press Conference

We are 30 days from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, and in a press conference held in the “Saturday Night Live” studio in New York, and on a conference call with reporters today, network executives and Olympics primetime host Bob Costas explained what they have planned for games.

“If you work in television, particularly in sports television, this is really the pinnacle and this is really the time everyone starts feeling the butterflies and starts getting amped up for the challenge ahead,” said Jim Bell, the EP of the London Olympics, as well as NBC’s “Today.”

Some statistics from NBCU: There will be 5,536 hours of live coverage across nine TV channels and online via authenticated streaming. NBCU has 75,000 square feet of space in the International Broadcast Centre in London, and will have 3,000 staffers to cover the games, produce “Today” and “Nightly News,” etc. Around 200 million Americans are expected to tune in to part of the games over 17 days, which underscores just how big a deal the games are for NBCU owner Comcast. Comcast spent $30 billion to secure the U.S. TV rights to the Olympic games through 2020.

That massive deal means that, at least for the upcoming games, the Olympics will be a loss leader.

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Pub Grub for NBC, MSNBC Newsers Ahead of London Games

Dozens of NBC News and MSNBC employees have have packed Bill’s Bar and Burger this afternoon for a Summer Kick-off. The party, just across the street from Rockefeller Center, is to celebrate the upcoming coverage of the London Olympic games. Everyone in attendance received an NBC London 2012 t-shirt. And we’re told that in addition to the usual burgers and fries, there was British fare like Shepherd’s Pie and fish & chips.

NBC News president Steve Capus and “Today” EP Jim Bell were featured in a video that played on the screens throughout the restaurant. Both talked about their first Olympics experiences. Capus, an MSNBC original, talked about covering the 1996 Atlanta games, when MSNBC was just 4 days old. Bell, a former NBC Sports staffer, worked his first games in Barcelona in 1992, where he met his wife, Angelique. Twenty years and four kids later, Bell will be running NBC’s Olympic telecasts in London.

The NBC News teams will start heading across the pond in a few weeks preparing for the opening ceremony July 27.

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