Saturday, July 28, 2012

If you could just go ahead and shut up about how NBC broadcasts the Olympics, that'd be great

     Opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in London.

There's been a fair bit of outrage on Twitter tonight regarding NBC's presentation of the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Some of it is deserved, like the excessive commercial breaks that wouldn't be necessary if NBC didn't overpay for the television rights to these games again. Some if it is totally deserved - if Bob Costas and Matt Lauer did indeed spend the duration of Kazakhstan's entrance in the Parade of Nations talking about Borat (as Twitter tells me they did) then obviously that's not journalism and just very ignorant. That being said, allow me to offer a couple bullet point forms of defense.

- Tape delay: There are pros and cons here. You have to keep in mind both that a) there is a 5 hour time difference between London and the east coast of the United States, and b) NBC is still a television network that makes most of its money broadcasting in primetime. The argument that social media has killed the tape delay is only half right. Sure, CBS should continue to be nailed for tape delaying the Grammys every year on the West Coast considering they air on a Sunday and are produced in Los Angeles; but NBC should not be nailed for airing this event in primetime because fun fact: the majority of Americans were working today, a Friday, at 4:00pm eastern time and would have no way of seeing this event live. That's not to say that one of NBC's cable channels, like USA, couldn't have aired this live instead of the three reruns of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" that it aired during those hours instead. That's because it's much easier for them to do that than for NBC to clear three hours from every one of their affiliates to air the opening ceremonies live. An event this big is going to be talked about, even if it's three hours later than when it actually happened. The West Coast tape delay of the opening ceremonies are proving that right now. NBC Sports is another contended to air this event live, but at the time they were already showing Olympic coverage in the form of men's soccer.

- America, ra-ra-ra: Please stop. America is far from the only nation to do this. If you watched CTV's coverage in Canada as I did, then you must remember watching Brian Williams and Lisa LaFlamme babble over footage of Canadian athletes walking through the entire stadium as between five and ten countries behind them were ignored entirely. The countries with the biggest teams, like Australia, Canada, and the U.S. among others, will usually have commercials aired over them because nobody wants to watch 200+ person teams walk through the stadium as the commentators have run out of things to read from the notes they printed off Wikipedia. The Olympics are extremely political, so it's kind of pointless to complain when more coverage is given to a team of hundreds than to a team of 4. Also, coverage will always vary by country because they're trying to try to offer you a take on the games from your own nationality. Because of the primetime tape delay NBC uses, they get complaints about their coverage focusing too much on the American team. Umm...what? They have three primetime hours to sum up the day's highlights, and the people who watch the games in that format want to hear first and foremost about the American team. Canadian television operates on a different model and because of that, coverage will be ongoing all throughout the day on the main CTV network and can therefore more easily cover a broader scope of nations that will otherwise be ignored. Don't blame NBC - this would happen on any major American network. It's just the biz, folks.