Monday, August 18, 2008

It's a ploy perpetrated by an American to bring a Brit down...


Let's start with the seeming obsession with (of all random sports) volleyball. I swear to God, every time I tune in each night, some form of volleyball is on - I am NOT exaggerating. It's become the running joke in this house. There are 296 events and 28 sports in the average Olympics, yet volleyball is considered by NBC to be the #1 crowd-puller? I just don't see it.

Then there is the timing. Although there is a 15 hour time lag between the west coast and Beijing, for some reason NBC still manages to schedule the headliner events at such a ridiculously late hour, only shift workers or insomniacs would catch them. Case-in-point, I have missed virtually every Michael Phelps swim because I just can't keep my eyes open past 10:30 at night. Why are they scheduling the golden boy for 11pm? The ladies all-around gymnastics was the same story. The only reason I got to see Nastia Luken and Shawn Johnson snag Gold/Silver was because I couldn't sleep and sat up in bed until 1am to see the results. What about all those 7 year olds who are dreaming of being an Olympic swimmer or gymnast? I can't imagine their parents allowing them to stay up until the wee hours of the morning to watch this stuff. Of course, they do repeat the "highlights" the next day but by then you'd have to be deaf, dumb, and blind to have missed the results or one of the 26 millions replays, interviews, and recaps they use as time "fillers" instead of actually covering other competitions. Who wants to watch a competition when they already know the winner? Aparently, it's much more important to dig down into the inner psyche of Michael Phelps, stroke by stroke, on each of his races, than it is to see perhaps another one of those 296 events.

Then there is the complete lack of coverage for anything where Americans do not have a chance to medal. The British are 3rd in the Gold Medal Count as of the last time I checked but you know how many of those competitions I've actually seen aired on NBC? ZERO. And the same is to be said for virtually every other nation. I mention Britain because I have an obvious personal interest but the reality is that I'm interested in seeing the Olympics, not just the American athletes at the Olympics. Just because our gal drops out of the kayaking competition in the qualifier, doesn't mean I don't want to see who actually wins it. It's just ridiculously nationalistically narcissistic (I don't know if that's a word or gramatically correct but it gets my point across.)

Not that I'm not proud of all the achievements of the U.S. I am! I am! Seriously, I grew up in a country that's known for not winning very much of anything usually, so I'm revelling in being on the winning team for a change. But let's put the achievement in perspective.

POPULATION: 300 million
MEDALS AS A PROPORTION OF THE POPULATION: 1 for every 4 million people

POPULATION: 59 million
MEDALS AS A PROPORTION OF THE POPULATION: 1 for every 2 million people

Better still, here's a shout-out to our Ozzie friends...

POPULATION: 20 million
MEDALS AS A PROPORTION OF THE POPULATION: 1 for every 606,000 people

So, basically what I'm saying is that the one channel, 8pm to 1am coverage for the world's biggest sporting event, in the age of 300 channels and digital media just doesn't cut it. Especially when every other channel is chock-a-block with repeats, you'd think that NBC would cut a better deal to their advantage.

Ok, so they don't want to air 10 hours of Olympic coverage each day but how about they take the primo events, air those at prime-time and then sell off the other stuff to cable channels like TNT or TBS or even ESPN or something, so those of us who do want to watch the other 290 events, can do so? I would even go so far as to say I'd be willing to purchase an "Olympic Pack" from DirectTV or something, just like they set-up for the NFL season, just so I could have a wider variety of choices for my Olympic Coverage. Or what about video Podcasts?

I just don't get it. The nation that has figured out a way to squeeze the last dime out of just about every other thing, still manages to churn-out the same-old Olympic coverage they were doing in 1980, when there were probably only 3 big network channels.

We have to do better than this.

Not that I care for London 2012. I'm going to be there in person, of course.


Mala said...

I TOTALLY have to agree with you on this. We are completely frustrated with NBC's coverage of beach volleyball and why and how those ladies are losing their wedding rings and wearing black tape. I want to see other sports as well - its the OLYMPICS for crying out loud. I'm glad I am not the only ones who feel this way.

Mala said...

Btw - your wish is my command. I just updated my blog. :)

James said...

I haven't watched a ton of the Olympics (I've got my hands full with twins), but I think you're being a little unfair (am I about defend a major television network?) in the criticism. NBC is showing events on a half dozen cable channels they own and if you happen to have Directv, it's 24/7 coverage on Universal HD. It could be that I'm watching events in the wee hours while changing diapers, but I've seen everything from fencing to badminton (which is freakin' awesome by the way) with no mention of any Americans competing. In fact, I recall that at least some of the rowing coverage has been very British and Australian centric as those are sports dominated by them.

But my total viewing time has only been a few hours, much of it when I should have been in bed...

TravelVixen said...

James, you re-made my point. First of all, I had no idea there were other channels carrying coverage. NBC is certainly not promoting it. Secondly, I can barely stay awake past 10pm, so flicking through cable channels in the wee hours of the morning just aint gonna happen. As for the volleyball, I'm not the only one noticing this bizarre obsession on NBC prime-time coverage. EVERY SINGLE TIME I've turned that channel on, some form of volleyball has been on. I am NOT exaggerating for once.

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