NBC's No Good Olympic Coverage
February 19, 2010
"NBC's Olympics coverage is vile," wrote one angry Facebook (News - Alert) friend."The women's downhill is on NOW, but there is apparently no way to watch it. No TV coverage, no live coverage on the NBC Web site. Disgusting."
Comments on that post included "Hey, that's no fair...they do cover the full contact sport that is Poker" and "You'd think with all the money Bob Costas makes, he could afford a better rug."
Henry Blodget wrote, "As of 2:15 ET, the Men's Downhill is underway in Vancouver, as NBC's Web site, NBCOlympics.com proudly proclaims. But there's no live coverage. Not on NBC's Web site, and not on NBC's TV networks, not anywhere NBC controls."
Absolutely unbelievable that NBC would find a way to screw up one of the true showcase events of the Winter Olympics. As Blodget said, "It didn't seem possible that it would happen again. It didn't seem possible that, in the middle of a national holiday, NBC would be so self-serving that it would risk infuriating millions of viewers by tape-delaying one of the most popular events at the Winter Olympics - the Men's Downhill. But it's not only possible. It's fact."
Not that Olympic coverage in the past has always been sterling. Other Facebook comments include "this is how I recall the Olympics of my youth - Franz Klammer + two other racers, three hours of Jim McKay and 15 promos for “Welcome Back Kotter."
We do wonder how covering such a simple thing could be so difficult? Point the camera at the skiers and roll film, something like that? As Blodget wrote, "the eager audience who tuned in to watch the Men's Downhill live, like the eager audience that tuned in to watch the French Open and Wimbledon and other sporting events that NBC buys the rights to so it can ruin, are instead left to curse a network that is now actively preventing them from watching the event until it's long over and all the drama is gone."
"The Vancouver Olympics has established that NBC has no interest in maximizing viewer interest in the games, or in minimizing the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars it says it will suffer from covering the event," wrote industry observer Scott Bradner.
Bradner also said "it is now a very long time, in Internet years at least, since the mid-1980s but one could hardly tell when looking at the NBC Olympics Web site. If you go to the video page and ask to view the 'full live streaming schedule' you get a quite pathetic and limited list of events. When I looked on Feb. 14, curling and hockey were the only sports listed."
Most of the Winter Olympic events will not be shown on TV in the United States, Brader writes, which is too bad - here in New Zealand we have four cable channels dedicated solely to Olympic coverage, and commercials are rare. We've seen curling, short track, curling, speed skating, biathlon, curling, Luge, Alpine downhill, curling, figure skating, curling, curling, some other sport we've never heard of, hockey and curling.
They even replayed the opening ceremonies, scientifically determined to be the most boring ceremonies ever inflicted on any audience anywhere, with the five and a half-hour 1966 Soviet May Day parade coming in second.
"The video is available since almost all of the events are being shown on TV or streamed over the Internet in other countries. It would not cost NBC all that much to stream the events it will not be covering on its shows. Such coverage, particularly of training and preliminary events, would increase interest in the finals, at least some of which NBC will be carrying. But that would make too much sense," Brader writes, adding "It sure looks like NBC is terrified of the Internet, and wants to have as little to do with it as the broadcaster can possibly get away with."
David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.
Edited by Amy Tierney