Tuesday, August 7, 2012

If I Were In Charge...

I've been saying a lot of things about the NBC coverage to the United States of the 2012 Summer Olympics Games, none very positive.Lest any of my (four) readers think that I'm being a negative Nelly, here are some of my reasons for not being complimentary:

1. Coverage primarily of only events featuring competitors from the United States. Show us sports that we don't get to see, with competitors we don't already know. This is a world-wide stage with people from...you guessed it! All over the world. Let's see some of them.

2. Ad nauseum coverage of beach volleyball, especially Misty May-Treanor and her partner. 

3. Ad nauseum coverage of swimming, especially Michael Phelps. I get that he has now claimed the title of "most decorated Olympian athlete ever," but that's really an unfair comparison for any of the other athletes. A person playing team volleyball, for example, has exactly one chance to win a medal every four years. Phelps competes in every event he can, and so the odds are more in his favor than for the majority of the other athletes.

4. Ad nauseum coverage of Missy Franklin, another swimmer. Sure she's young, and it's amazing she's able to win as much as she as. But I'm tired of hearing about her size 13 feet and that she can out-eat Michael Phelps.

5. The inane questions that the on-the-scene "reporters" such as Lewis Johnson and Andrea whats-her-face (the NBC website is frustratingly silent on the name of its reporters) ask athletes as they're coming out of the pool or off the track. "How do you feel now that you've qualified for the next event?" That's a big no-no straight out of Basic Reporting Skills 101. Don't ask obvious questions.

6. Ryan Seacrest. Really???? Ryan Freakin' Seacrest. And he has added nothing of value unless I want to know what people are tweeting about. (I do not, in case you were wondering.)

7. Mary Carillo. I actually really like Mary Carillo. She is a former pro tennis player. She is witty and intelligent, and the poor thing always has to play second fiddle to Bob Costas. (Bob Freakin' Costas, for the record.) She gets stuck with stories like, "What does latitude and longitude mean and what is Greenwich mean time?" That might be interesting if it had anything whatsoever to do with the Olympics. (It does not.)

8. NBC (male) commentators' persistent usage of the word "girls" when referring to women athletes. "The girls are doing a great job..." or whatever. I have not seen any event titled "Girls' Gymnastics," "Girls' Cycling," or "Girls' Basketball." All those sports for that particular gender are appropriately prefixed with "Women's"  for a very good reason. They are all, shockingly enough, women. And you can bet that if a woman announcer referred to men's basketball as "Boys' Basketball," some man somewhere would get his panties in a bunch.

9. Their annoying habit of saving the popular events until after 10 p.m. I'm usually toast by that time, with thoughts of sugarplum fairies dancing in my head. To be forced to wait to watch gymnastics, or the next world record potentially being broken in track - all for the sake of ratings - is ridiculous. It's not like any other networks are really going up against them to try and compete for an audience share. It's the OLYMPICS. It comes around once every FOUR YEARS. Show us the good stuff, let us go to bed.

10. Padding. Padding. Padding. Too many human-interest stories that are less about being interesting and humans and more about giving some fluff-head intern something to do.

11. Not knowing any results about anything. I learn more about the day's medal count and other countries' accomplishments from the Coke and Dodge commercials than I do from NBC.

12. The non-stop blathering on about the 1996 women's USA gymnastics team. I agree that revisiting those moments is good....once. But I've seen more coverage of Keri Strug this year than I did in 1996.

I'm not the only person who is less than charmed by NBC this year. Guy Adams works as a writer for The Independent, a national newspaper in Great Britain. He lives in Los Angeles. Throughout the Olympics, he's taken to Twitter and ripped NBC repeatedly for its coverage of the Games in America.

Namely, he's criticized the network's reliance on using tape delays, a frustration shared by millions of viewers. He actually had the audacity to suggest that other unhappy viewers should email the president of NBC. And Twitter, unbelievably enough, canceled his Twitter account. 

The argument could be made that NBC is doing what it is doing simply from a business perspective.It is a business out to make money, after all. And one could also argue, as NBC did, that viewership is up, so something must be working. (NBC said  that a record 28.7 million US viewers watched its primetime coverage on Saturday’s first day of competition. NBC said Saturday’s evening audience was 2 million more than watched the first day of competition during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. An average 12.3 million US viewers watched the Olympics on television on Saturday morning – a 56 per cent increase over the Saturday daytime audience for Beijing in 2008, the network said.)

Pshaw, I say. Viewership is up because there are...wait for it....more of us. We also have no other recourse than watching NBC since NBC has paid 1.18 billion dollars for the exclusive rights to broadcast the London Games. It has won, in return $1 billion in advertising, so it may break even. 

Newsflash, NBC (you do remember what those are, right?): Make a few changes, make some more money, earn some more viewer loyalty. And with an DVR being in many American households, I prefer to start watching my primetime coverage well into the evening so I can fast forward through the fluff pieces and commercials. Winner? Me. Your advertisers aren't really getting that much out of it after all, are they?


  1. You know, the thing that bothered me most with the whole Kerri Strug story is that they neglected to share the fact that she did not have to do the second vault. The coaches knew that, the teammates and Bela Karolyi all knew that, but Bela essentially put out a gag order. He wanted her to be the hero of the olympic games. The Soviets (Russians?) had already lost the gold- their score had already been tallied before she did the vault. If she hadn't done the 2nd vault, she could've continued to compete for another few years, possibly even another Olympics. So while I simply have been watching events online (we don't get NBC) I don't nearly have the gripe you do- but I do think they should at least report the whole story. Its not as warm and heroic as they want us to believe. It was an awful man exploiting a young girl for fame.

  2. My favorite on your list is Number Eight. Just sayin'. And I hope "they" get enough complaints that next time some other network gets the bid for the Olympic Coverage. Or, is that even possible? Maybe in two or four years Network Coverage as we know it will be history. And if that's the case, it may very well be a direct result of the lack of it this year.

  3. Hooo. You hit every single nail on the head with this one.

    But I AM gonna try to capture the closing ceremony - that was freakin' AWESOME. Made up for all the Abused By NBC feeling.