Kara Goucher made her debut on NBC TV on April 24, during the busy weekend athletics broadcast with Drake Relays and USATF Grand Prix. Kara, a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, took the silver medal in the 10,000m in Osaka 2007 WC.
In this column, I wanted to bring up several points on why Kara Goucher joining NBC TV as a sports analyst on middle and long distances is important to the sport.
The truth is this; if the powers that be want to build the sport, they still need it on terrestrial TV. As NBC TV has the Olympic ideal, and the Olympic Trials, two of the most critically watched broadcasts will be seen on NBC, plus five track meets in 2021.
Add into the mix, the plethora of streaming TV, and ESPN, and American track fans have much to watch. Also, never stop checking out You Tube, as all the media brands post clips on their YouTube channels.
1. Kara Goucher obviously does her homework.
The sexualizing of women broadcasters and the weaponization of positive or negative commentary has been part of TV sports broadcasting since sports on TV began. The truth is this. Women are at least 61 percent of most American sports broadcasting audiences. And that special demographic, 18-40, is key for global marketers.
The women’s TV audience is tough. They want to know the back story, not the old Upclose and personal done by ABC in 1984 that made many hate Olympic tv coverage. ABC paid $136 million for the 1984 Summer and Winter Olympics. NBC paid $550 million in a bid for the 1988 Olympics.
In her debut, Kara Goucher came across as relaxed, confident and someone who did her homework.
2. Kara Goucher reaches a demographic and is a role model.
When Kara left Nike several years ago and moved to Oiselle and some other brands, I recall some media snickers over how she would never be the icon that she could have. I remember noting that Kara Goucher, and her partner in life and business, Adam Goucher, did nothing without some introspection.
The social media that Kara Goucher has done, the writing that she has done for various media groups, and the camps she has developed all were building for an opportunity to speak to and for a new generation of both men and women, who want to enjoy athletics with announcers who do not pander, but provide background and are not afraid to make a comment.
3. The changing media landscape shows NBC needs a more personal Olympic TV team.
I like that Ato Boldon, Paul Swangard, Lewis Johnson, Trey Hardee, and Sonya Richards-Ross are on the A-team. I know little about the new guy, Leigh Diffey, the Indy 500 announcer. What I do like is that he will spend two weeks geeking out on track & field. My advice to Mr. Diffey: ” Let the races do the talking, add to them, give us some background, and dear God, give the athletes time to breathe before doing an interview.”
4. Kara Goucher sees the big picture.
I was there in 2007 when Kara won her bronze in the 10,000m (now a silver, due to a Turkish drug cheat) in hot and humid Osaka, Japan. I was so darn happy to see her, lap by lap, battled the best athletes in the world. Having seen how hard she had worked, and how much Adam and she gave up, after a plethora of injuries, I was smiling and tearing up. We won few distance medals then.
She has won, and she has lost, and she has shown class. The 2016 Trials in the marathon were so difficult, as her 4th place in 2:30.24, just one minute behind Shalane Flanagan. A class performance, and a fitting end to an elite career.
Those experiences will help Kara Goucher communicate to the potential sports fan and actual sports geek the challenges of middle distance running in a championship environment, where places and medals matter first.
5. Kara Goucher makes a great addition to the NBC A team.
In the NBC team, all seem to be doing what they were made for. No one takes the job for granted and is on their A-game. They know that doing an inane broadcast will not be tolerated by NBC, as too much is at stake.
Kara Goucher showed the finesse of a veteran analyst and was careful to see the benefits of the team theme that NBC supports in the Olympic Trials and Olympics broadcast.
We look forward to seeing Kara Goucher join the team on June 18-June 27 (Eugene) and July 18-August 8 (Tokyo).