Underwhelming Coverage of the Olympics

By Martin Iheke

Every four years, I look forward to watching the Summer Olympics because I get the chance to see the best of the best perform from countries all over the world. There is nothing like it, especially when you are anxious to see how your country performs on the world stage. My only problem when it comes to the Olympics is how the television network, the National Broadcasting Company, covers it in primetime. Would it hurt NBC to show some of the bigger events live no matter what time of the day it occurs? I do not think so. Apparently, NBC is more concerned about appeasing the advertisers and promoting their shows for the fall and the only way they can do this is to show the big events like swimming, gymnastics and track & field in primetime, whether they are live or not.

I get the business side of this, but why do this at the expense of us, the viewer, who want to watch these events live when it occurs? They could show them live and air them later in primetime for anyone who missed it the first time. I bet NBC would still be pulling in solid ratings. In Canada and England, their networks show these events live when it occurs so why can’t NBC? Now, the network will come out and tell us that the ratings are through the roof, nationally, so in their minds they think they are doing the right thing tape-delaying it. My theory on that is some folks, like me, are staying away from the sports channels or internet so we can see what is shown on tape-delay and not already know the result. I guess that is what NBC wants us to do and that is stupid.

For example, London is only six hours ahead of us here in the central time zone so when the men’s 100-meter final occurred almost at 11pm London time, last Sunday, it would have been almost 5pm locally. Most people on a Sunday afternoon would have been home to watch it. Perhaps the most anticipated event of the Olympics to see who the fastest human being in the world is and whether we could see a new world record. NBC could have shown the event live as it occurred so we did not have to be told or find out what happened before we watched it on tape-delay at around 10pm our time. Too bad they did not think of this. The International Olympic Committee did not seem to have a problem with this. “It’s certainly not for us to tell them how to reach their audience,” Mark Adams, spokesman of the IOC said according to ESPN.com. “If you wanted live, you could get it live,” as Adams continued meaning you could have watched it live because NBC live-streamed the race for online viewers according to ESPN.com.

Well, Adams, not everyone has the internet like they do a TV and we know NBC is paying the IOC $2.2 billion to broadcast both the Summer and Winter Olympics through 2020 so I do not expect you to criticize the network, especially with all that money coming in. You are right that it is not the IOC’s place to tell NBC how to reach their audience, but it would not hurt to talk to NBC about helping us, the viewer, out. This is not the 1970s. We are in the 21st century where we have social media and the internet to find out the results to an event. If something specular happens, we want to see it live as it occurs. There is nothing better than having that initial shock and awe of what we just saw live rather than hearing about it only to have to see it on tape-delay. It takes all the thrill away and it is not right.

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