CTV BC 2010 Olympics reporter Mike Killeen, recalling his experiences at Spirit of Vancouver House at The Bay, realized “something big’s going to happen” when the 2010 torch relay reached Vancouver.
Despite CTV’s initial technical reservations on following the whole Vancouver event, 8.1 million Canadians eventually watched the torch relay on CTV 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., averaging hourly audiences of 700,000 to 800,000 people.
“And that’s when I thought – wow – something big’s going to happen, and we all saw that it did,” Killeen said.
Other pleasant surprises for Killeen were the broadcasting “firsts,” including unprecedented coverage of the Paralympic Games, resulting in “staggering” ratings for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
Killeen then answered questions from the audience:
Q: How did you cope with the background noise of the crowds?
A: “Headphones! And in Robson Square – we couldn’t hear each other. The producer would signal when we should be speaking!”
Killeen said the crowds were totally unexpected: “None of us expected that. People gravitated to the set… there were thousands of people downtown in the middle of the week. We had 354,000 people watching on a Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. – all new eyeballs for us.”
Q: How did the broadcasting consortium come about allowing people to see what they want?
A: Killeen said it was unprecedented to offer so many platforms through Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium – CTV, TSN, TSN 2, Rogers Sportsnet… and “the consortium did a very god job at steering people to where they wanted to go…”
Q: How many people were working behind the scenes?
A: Killeen reported 1,400 people were working for the Consortium at the Broadcasting Centre manning five sets. “They built five television stations at the Broadcasting Centre,” he said.
NBC had 500 to 600 people, around 50 of them having been here for the last few years. “They were fabulous partners and CTV learned a lot from them as they were in also in Beijing,” he said.
“In respect to online, it was off the charts with people watching everywhere on their laptops. There were millions for the gold medal hockey game.”
Killeen said Vancouver’s response was a surprise: “The consortium, I think, did not have an idea of what would happen on the streets – the atmosphere. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated that.”
Q: What does the Spirit of Vancouver mean for you having been around all that energy?
A: We fed off it. I think it really changed this city forever. We’ve had debates about the ‘no fun city’ in the past – I think that’s solidly gone now. We have proved to ourselves and to anybody else, everybody else, that we know how to party, we know how to celebrate, we can do it responsibly and we can all get along and have fun, and I think that’s what’s changed us forever.”
Craig Hemer, chair of The Board’s Membership Committee and partner, Odgers Berndtson, facilitated the event.
The next weekly Spirit of Vancouver House at The Bay event on Friday, April 9, will feature the designer of the Four Host First Nations emblem, Salish artist Jody Broomfield, Squamish Nation. Register now