The Inside Scoop on Shaq Vs Tyson Gay (Shaq's Injury and TV Ratings)

August 26, 2010

Last week we chronicled the Shaq vs Tyson Gay "race" on ABC's show Shaq Vs. (If you have no idea what we're talking about click here. Shaquille O'Neal  and Tyson Gay raced each other along with some other sports luminaries Mo Greene (Olympic 100m champ), Desean Jackson (NFL),  Chris Johnson (NFL all purpose leader last year) ,and Dwight Howard (NBA stud).

We said we had to cover it because it would be the most watch track and field "event" in the United States of the year.

We were right. The ratings are in and Shaq Vs Tyson Gay did very well. In fact it was an all-time best for Shaq vs.

The show brought in 5.07 million viewers according to Nielsen and the audience was up 43% from the week before thanks to Tyson Gay (we'll give him all the credit instead of Rachel Ray who was also on the show).

How does that compare to other track meets in the US?

The Prefontaine Track Classic was seen by 1.2 million viewers.  Without getting too complicated, we don't have the total viewers for the NCAA meet,  adidas Grand Prix, or this past weekend's tape delayed Weltklasse meet on NBC, but estimating from the Nielsen ratings (.7 for the NCAA meet, 1.0 for adidas, and .7 for Weltklasse) we think they were watched by roughly  1 million, 1.5 million , and 1 million respectively. So Shaq vs got at least 3 times as many viewers as the next highest rated track broadcast in the US this year.

Three Races Changed to Two Because Of Shaq Injury
As for the race itself, we've heard from two people on the record who were at the taping. And the most interesting thing we've learned is that there were supposed to be three Shaq vs Tyson races but it had to trimmed down to two after Shaq pulled up during the second race. The third race was cancelled as a precautionary measure to prevent further injury. If you look at the video below carefully, you can see Shaq alter his stride at the very end of the relay race  (1:40 into the video) vs Tyson indicating something might be wrong.

Here is the recap from a viewer at the "race: "

    "It was about an hour and a half of the camera crew taking establishing shots, getting interviews, and milling around. Some point during that time Mo Greene and Gay came on to the track and nobody seemed to notice until one of the Oxy sprinters I was with went to get their autographs. 

    But essentially it was a lot of sitting around as the crew talked to the runners for the show. It took about half an hour to film each race since they had to go through the big build-up and everything for the crowd (on an aside: the producer running the show said that because they had expected a much larger turnout the crowd would have to more evenly dispersed through the stands to make it seem like more people were there. I don't know if that speaks more to the public interest in seeing the athletes or to bad marketing.) I haven't seen the episode, but if you were there it was obvious Gay was jogging the whole thing. 

     As for Shaq pulling up, they did tell us at the beginning there would be three races between Shaq and Gay. We left after the second because it was late and we were hungry, but I do remember him starting to pull up at the end of the relay. If only two races made it to the air, then that's probably why."

Michael Fox, an Occidental College student (where the race was taped), confirmed Shaq pulled up saying "they would have run 3 races, but shaq got hurt...". Clearly his "injury" or whatever you want to call it was not too serious but you can see it yourself if you watch carefully.

Check out Shaq pulling up for yourself (1:40 into the video below. Click on the image to start the video).

More: Shaq vs Tyson Recap


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