Posted on: August 25, 2008 3:42 pm

NBC's shoddy Olympic coverage

Now that the Olympics have come and gone, my rage toward NBC was starting to ebb until the Today Show gang spent the morning discussing how great the Olympics were and how amazing the coverage was, and my rage  was suddenly back to that of a militant islamofascist after reading a Dutch newspaper's cartoon section.  I must say that the Olympic coverage was pathetic, at best.  Granted, I expect the frilly human interest pieces, the gushing Chris Collinsworth, the wordy Bob Costas, and the over-the-top calls from the likes of Al Trautwig.  After all, it is the Olympics, not playoff football or the World Series.

My distaste for the coverage begins with the fact that millions upon millions of Americans had to watch incredible Olympic feats on tape delay, three hours behind those citizens who live in the Eastern Standard Time zone.  Now I can understand the tape delay that surrounds a show like Scrubs or ER, but how does NBC explain tape delaying the Olympics, while still having the audacity to place a "LIVE" icon in the upper right portion of the screen?  Okay, I'm watching Michael Phelps barely win the 100-meter butterfly, but I know he won and it's under protest because I have the internet!  I'm very intersted in how NBC expects nearly half of the country to feel about their decision to delay the Olympics to suit their programming desires and, I assume, pad their advertising wallets.  If Fox attempted to do such a thing with the World Series (and don't get me ranting on how poor that coverage is) or the Super Bowl there would be riots in the streets of Pacific Time zone towns and cities.  Please refer to my Dutch cartoon reference if you want a mental image.

Perhaps I'm into the Olympics more than the average west coaster, but I feel strongly that the broadcast company that bids for the rights to cover the Olympics, and, in particular, the U.S. athletes, has a national obligation to provide coverage that is timely and accurate, regardless of what it means for their regular programming and their bottom line.  Live events would have been starting at 5 p.m. on the west coast, which isn't exactly a bad time to air live sporting events.  I can already hear the protests to my position, that I could simply avoid checking the outcomes before watching them, or get satellite programming that allows viewing of east coast channels, or go to Beijing personally and view whatever event I want.  The fact is that I really enjoyed a lot of the Olympics this year, and I shouldn't have to circumvent the poor decisions of NBC executives to enhance my viewing.  Knowing that the women's (ha ha) gymnastics competition is over and the results are in as I'm trying to watch it is just too tempting.  Off to the computer and clickity-clack!  Now I can get to that room that needs painting for a couple of hours.

On another note, NBC could have better utilized their underwatched networks of MSNBC and CNBC to provide a wider variety of the more obscure sports.  Why were replays of "To Catch a Predator" running on MSNBC when there was Greco-Roman wrestling or archery to watch?  The only two sports that consistently ran on CNBC were boxing and water polo.  Another opportunity wasted.  Imean, I'll watch synchronized diving or women's rowing, even 10-meter airgun competitions once every four years.

NBC should be ashamed of their disdain for a huge fraction of the American viewing public.

Category: Olympic Games
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