This post is a rant about why I hate how NBC airs the Olympics, making it so that the West Coast, which is where the Olympics are taking place, watch the whole thing on 3 hour tape-delay. Which isn’t fair and I know, based on what Dick Ebersol said in 2008, this won’t change until someone else buys the Olympics.
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
In 2006 I had this suggestion:
Treat the Olympics as highlite reels. Show us the best and the worst. Show us the crashes and the surprises. Show us the kids who overcome a crash and win. Show us the great skier who flops, with a Super Ski image to show where he fucked up. Bode Miller straddled a gate? Show me that part! People say that Americans can’t concentrate at length? Okay, then, pander us. Show us clips instead of whole programs.
In re-reading that post, everything I felt 4 years ago is still true. It’s even worse now, with Hulu and YouTube.
Of course, NBC seriously screwed up their website two years ago, and while this time the site is better, I never go to it. Ever. I go to http://vancouver2010.com who, at this very moment, is telling me that at least 2 figure skaters whom NBC has not aired in their ‘live’ coverage have already finished.
What’s NBC showing?
Womens Snowboard Cross. Which was won, at 3pm Pacific Time, by a Canadian. Not the American who whiffed it big time four years ago. Also, it’s currently 5:30pm Pacific. So that’s not ‘live’ by any stretch of the word.
I know that most people aren’t home to watch telly at 3pm. But for NBC to insist that today, in 2010, we all pile into a house to watch the ‘live’ Olympics at 8pm is naive. It’s the era of Twitter and Facebook, where someone’s got a grainy video of the live event posted online, within minutes of the skier whiffing it big time and plowing into a tree. And if I go to NBC’s Olympic site, which is so shitty, I’m not even linking to it, I can’t even watch figure skating online.
I need to point out here that it’s about 9pm Central and we’ve seen four, maybe five, of the 20 mens figure skaters actually skate. If I go online to watch the ones I missed, I can’t find them. So much for their touted ‘live’ claims.
Two years ago, Here’s the definitive answer given by Dick Ebersol, NBC’s czar of the Olympics, said this:
It’s live on the East Coast and in the Central time zone, which is roughly 81 to 82 percent of all the households in the United States. Historically, we have always shown the Olympics on tape on the West Coast. We have repeatedly done significant testing or polling, if you want to call it that, on the West Coast. And they have told us – the viewers have repeatedly told us that the vast majority of them, well in excess of 80 percent, want to see the Olympics when they’re available to see the Olympics. They don’t want to see the key events of the day happening at 4 or 5 o’clock their time. They want to get home and watch them, and that’s why there’s a delay on the West Coast. And you know what? Strangely enough, in every Olympics that I have done, going back to 1992, every Olympics, the audience on the West Coast over-indexes against all the other regions in the United States. They love sports so much, and they know when they want to watch it, and that’s in primetime.
Quite simply, I think he’s full of it. I think he’s wrong, and I think he’s massaging his data to try and salvage the NBC olympics, which are loosing money. And why do they lose money? Could it be that no one’s watching? Could it be because we can’t find what we want to watch?
My suggestion remains. Timeshifting is fine, but stop treating it like it’s live. Show us live as live, and then from 8pm to 11:30pm, show us the best of the best. Show me why Lindsay Jacobellis didn’t win (she hit a gate). Show me Plushenko’s awesome skate! Show me the home country winning their second on-home-soil gold (Go Canada!). Show me the great skating and skiing and snowboarding and everything else. Stop showing me about polar bears and Shaun White’s history and show me sports.
This concludes my yearly rant on how much NBC sucks. See you in 2012!