Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Phelps Begins Quest to Make U.S. Team; Leads Press Coverage of Athletes

By Dow Jones Insight Staff

The Beijing Olympic Games open in five weeks, and coverage of Olympic trials events has focused the media spotlight on the most promising candidates for a number of U.S. teams. It was no surprise, then, to see that swimmer Michael Phelps, one of the biggest names among U.S, athletes, led all athletes in coverage in both traditional and social media. He received 1,612 mentions, or 21%, of the total 7,851 mentions in traditional media (print and online) of the athletes being tracked by Dow Jones Insight. Among the total 965 mentions in the social media (blogs and boards), 200, or 21%, were about Phelps.

Following the recently completed gymnastics trials, Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin were the only competitors guaranteed berths on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team. Accordingly, during the period of May 30 to June 30, Johnson received 1,110 mentions, or 14%, and Liukin received 994, or 13%, mentions in traditional media. Paul Hamm, who was named to the U.S. men’s gymnastics team despite not competing because of a broken hand, had 1,028 mentions, or 13%, in the press. In the social media sources, Johnson received 161, or 17%, Hamm received 111, or 12%, and Liukin received 73, or 8%.

The Olympic trials for track and field also just got under way. Competition for media and commercial exposure is expected to be heated between women’s sprinters Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards, although the two will not compete head-to-head in China. Felix, who plans to double in the 100- and 200-meter races, has the edge in coverage going into the trials, with 762 mentions, or 10%, in traditional media and 98 mentions, or 10%, in social media. Richards, who plans to run the 400 meters, received 397 mentions, or 5%, in traditional media and 34 mentions, or 4%, in social media. Jeremy Wariner, the defending gold medalist in the men’s 400 meters, received 530 mentions in the traditional media and 83 in the social media.

Among the non-U.S. athletes being tracked, Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang received 943 mentions, or 12%, in the traditional media and 140, or 15%, in the social media. Paula Radcliffe, a British marathoner, received 279 mentions in traditional media and 50 in social media. Rounding out the top 10 athletes in the analysis of traditional media, Australian women’s swimmer Leisel Jones received 196 mentions. Australian men’s swimmer Grant Hackett rounds out the top 10 in social media, with 15 mentions.

Methodology: Analysis includes 6,000 newspapers, wires, magazines, radio and TV transcripts; about 13,000 current-awareness news sites; 60,000 message boards and about two million blogs.

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