NBC's coverage of past Olympics, and how they screwed up

NBC's coverage of past Olympics, and how they screwed up

Post by Dr » Wed, 07 Aug 1996 04:00:00


Yes, this is another rant about NBC's mediocre coverage of the Olympics.  
But before I go off on my ***-and-moan, I need to know a few answers:

1) Which events did NBC broadcast live, and which did they carry
"plausibly live" -- which should be called by its harsh but true name,
"tape delayed?"  By my count, it was all swimming finals, Dream Team
(well, men's) coverage, and a few track events, especially the finals.  My
paper (The Star Tribune) published local times of the events.  But if
that's true, both the men's and women's 100m finals were shown an hour
after it happened.  So what is it?

2) Did NBC show any live events during the Olympics in Barcelona in '88?  
With the obvious time difference, I would assume most if not all events
were taped.  But I could swear I saw some event live during prime time.  
Am I wrong?  (And not to be make myself out as an ethnocentric schmuck, am
I right to assume that most of the "action" would occur at night, when all
the locals would be able to come home and watch live on their screens?)

3) Was there any way NBC could cajole the IOC into scheduling finals of
the marquee events (gymnastics, swimming and track) precisely in prime
time to maximize potential audience?  Moreover, as the official network of
the host country, do they have the impetus to make such scheduling moves?  
Or is it just a situation of the money talking?  If they had first dibs
and chose to broadcast such a crappy presentation these past 17 days, NBC
did a number on the American audience.

The prime example I give is gymnastics.  Yeah, I was on the edge of my
seat when Kerri Strug did that vault.  But I did so knowing the whole damn
thing happened *five hours ago*.  Seeing sports events live is only
inherent in our enjoyment of them.  So why didn't NBC have the cojones to
do so?

I remember reading an article on the ESPNet Sportszone about coverage.  
According to them, NBC paid the IOC $250 million for exclusive rights; on
the other hand, a European network paid approx. $150 million (correct me
if I'm wrong) for the same thing.  Now remember, gymnastics usually began
at 3 PM Atlanta time -- prime time not for us, but for Europe.

Go ahead, bash the soapy feature stories; I think they overdid it, but the
Olympics really are about people, so I didn't mind too much.  I thought
the on-air talent was great -- not John Tesh, maybe Tim Daggett and Summer
Sanders.  Yet I do find it particularly irksome that NBC chose to show
events taped without saying so.  That is manipulative and irresponsible of
a network to pull a stunt like that.  But if they knew which sports their
audience wanted to see, and then chose to forgo logic and broadcast them
"plausibly live" when they had a chance to go to the IOC and request a
schedule change and carry them as it happened *or* decided to delay a
track final an hour so they can feature a Polish mountain biker overcoming
the adversity of a glass eye (both of which I fear is the case), that
really pisses me off.

Think about this: The Olympics were held in America, yet Americans did not
even have the privilege to see most of it live.

If NBC had the power to change all that and didn't, that is how they truly
screwed up coverage of the Olympic games.  Their broadcasting policy is a
very real embarassment to the nation and to NBC.

I hope they don't do such a half-ass job in future Olympics, because
they'll have it from 2000-2008.  Let us pray.

Comments, anyone?  More importantly, answers to my questions, anyone?

                                                        -The Iconoclast

 
 
 

NBC's coverage of past Olympics, and how they screwed up

Post by Karl P » Wed, 07 Aug 1996 04:00:00

This is America. It is a free market. As long as the rule is played by
money, it will go on and on.

If you are a zillionaire, you can buy the exclusive broad casting
right from IOC and let nobody watch it but youself.

There two ways to breakdown the moloply. One is the TVs can receive
signals from setellites. Another way could be the combination of TV
and computers. You can click a mouse and find your favorate events you
like in a Olympic Games. But it may many year away. Anyway NBC's
practive is driving some companies to develop this technology. At
least some of my friends are doing so in several major companies. It
is a huge potential market. Again, the US is a free market, it is a
easy way to make a product which makes something inconvenient
convenient.  In other words, NBC may have done a good job, creating a
potential market.

The US is ruled by majority. As long as the majority enjoy watching
soap opra-like sports, you'v got to live with it.

Unlike the US government broke down the AT&T moloply in
telecommunication (eight baby bells?), The US congress will not take
any action to stop this kind of practice. It is just a game, the
Olympic Games.


Quote:
>Yes, this is another rant about NBC's mediocre coverage of the Olympics.  
>But before I go off on my ***-and-moan, I need to know a few answers:

>Comments, anyone?  More importantly, answers to my questions, anyone?

>                                                    -The Iconoclast


 
 
 

NBC's coverage of past Olympics, and how they screwed up

Post by Karen Barret » Thu, 08 Aug 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

>  3) Was there any way NBC could cajole the IOC into scheduling finals of
>  the marquee events (gymnastics, swimming and track) precisely in prime
>  time to maximize potential audience?  Moreover, as the official network of
>  the host country, do they have the impetus to make such scheduling moves?  
>  Or is it just a situation of the money talking?  If they had first dibs
>  and chose to broadcast such a crappy presentation these past 17 days, NBC
>  did a number on the American audience.

>  The prime example I give is gymnastics.  Yeah, I was on the edge of my
>  seat when Kerri Strug did that vault.  But I did so knowing the whole damn
>  thing happened *five hours ago*.  Seeing sports events live is only
>  inherent in our enjoyment of them.  So why didn't NBC have the cojones to
>  do so?

>  I remember reading an article on the ESPNet Sportszone about coverage.  
>  According to them, NBC paid the IOC $250 million for exclusive rights; on
>  the other hand, a European network paid approx. $150 million (correct me
>  if I'm wrong) for the same thing.  Now remember, gymnastics usually began
>  at 3 PM Atlanta time -- prime time not for us, but for Europe.

>  Go ahead, bash the soapy feature stories; I think they overdid it, but the
>  Olympics really are about people, so I didn't mind too much.  I thought
>  the on-air talent was great -- not John Tesh, maybe Tim Daggett and Summer
>  Sanders.  Yet I do find it particularly irksome that NBC chose to show
>  events taped without saying so.  That is manipulative and irresponsible of
>  a network to pull a stunt like that.  But if they knew which sports their
>  audience wanted to see, and then chose to forgo logic and broadcast them
>  "plausibly live" when they had a chance to go to the IOC and request a
>  schedule change and carry them as it happened *or* decided to delay a
>  track final an hour so they can feature a Polish mountain biker overcoming
>  the adversity of a glass eye (both of which I fear is the case), that
>  really pisses me off.

Most of the prime event finals were scheduled to occur during prime time.
The swimming and track finals (with a few exceptions like the 50k walk and
the marathon) were all scheduled to occur during prime time.  The track
schedule was adjusted on three days so that the 100m, 200m, and 400m
finals would occur at about 9:00 PM (optimum for live US broadcast).

The major exception to this was in gymnastics.  The European network
essentially doubled the rights fee they were willing to pay - contingent upon
the gymnastics team finals and all-around finals occuring early enough for
the Europeans to broadcast them during their prime time.  The individual
event finals did occur during US prime time.  I suppose NBC could have
engaged in a bidding war over the start times for these events, but
I don't blame them for not doing so.

One problem is that NBC showed poor time management and ending
up showing events that occured during prime time on a tape delayed
basis (or not showing them at all).  It was kind of stupid of them to
cut away from live coverage of an event to show tape delayed
coverage of a different event (and to then end up showing the rest
of the first event on a tape delayed basis).  Oh well...