Imagine you have a few hours of pre-recorded video in hand, featuring all manner of showmanship and including some mid-level pop stars, a bizarrely over-long live photo-montage by non-performers, and some of the great legends of music. Which would you cut from the Prime Time show?
Of course! Naturally you cut the legends … well, most of them. Some you make fans wait over an hour until AFTER airing an abysmal new pilot before you let them see the performance.
But are we really so surprised that this is how NBC would handle the Olympic closing ceremonies? I mean, we have been highly critical of the NBC coverage throughout the games – so did we expect basic competence or any sort of deference to the audience at this point? Of course not – it is all a blatant money grab!
Look at it this way – on every ‘reality contest’ show such as Food Network’s Chopped or American Idol, you are constantly told that you will get the answer … after the break. So we always know that the purpose of the show isn’t so much about the entertainment as it is about the profits. The entertainment is merely there to keep you glued to the screen so your eyeballs can be sold … which is interestingly pretty much Google’s business model.
But there were a few things that have always been handled differently – the news, special events, and the Olympics. It has already been a while since the news shows have moved to a for-profit model, which has resulted in a more commercial and sensationalist look at everything as well as a focus on celebrities way out of whack with reality.
As for special events, all you need to do is think about how recent mass-shootings were covered compared to tragedies twenty years ago and you will realize that there is no disaster so big that it cannot be used to sell your eyeballs.
Finally … the Olympics. It is clearly a massive undertaking, and NBC also had to fork over more than a BILLION dollars just for the privelege of showing them. I get that there need to be commercials and loads of them simply to defray costs. That is part of business. But to play a game of hardball xenophobia and exhibit collusion and anti-competitive behavior in conspiring with cable/satellite providers and internet providers to require paid subscriptions to watch ‘free’ content and blocking coverage available worldwide is simply shameful.
I mention the business side of things for a specific reason: NBC blatantly cut out things – IMPORTANT things – that didn’t directly pander to the US audience. It is just plain shameful – and again worth mentioning because these are some of the most watched Olympics since montreal (that was 1976, or 9 Olympics ago!), meaning that from a business standpoint they were a success and NBC will feel vindicated to repeat their atrocities in 2 and 4 years.
If you watched NBC’s coverage of the closing, you would note that it often dragged and felt unfocused, had way too many commercials and obvious cut-aways mid-event. You would have seen WAY too much of some bland fashion presentation and a heavy focus on the late 90′s pop girl group Spice Girls. We also got the mediocre Taio Cruz and Katy Perry-alike Jessie J (listen to her hit song and tell me it isn’t basically a Katy Perry song with a better singer). It felt like those few things lasted nearly an hour and took away too much time for other more important stuff.
So what did we miss? Here are a few items:
- The marathon, which is one of my favorite events and one of the last, has the medal ceremony during the closing. We didn’t get to see it.
- Kate Bush’s iconic ‘Running Up That Hill’ was set to a massive sequence with 303 cubes representing every Olympic event in what looks like a stunning spectacle.
- As expected in the America-only coverage, the spot with the British National Anthem was cut.
- Also as expected, a British dance and gymnastic team performing along with the Beatles’ legendary ‘A Day in the Life’.
- The Kink’s Ray Davies singing Waterloo Sunset was cut. This is the leader of one of the main groups of the British Invasion nearly 60 years ago. Maybe if it was a song about the US rather than London it could have been shown?
- The Who, legendary rockers that NBC plastered all over the place promoting the closing ceremonies, were cut. Ok, not REALLY cut, more like ‘deferred’. Despite having the video to edit and knowing the time, The Who somehow couldn’t make it within the normal coverage and had to be shown … AFTER THE BREAK! Yeah right! We know the real reason was that ‘the break’ was a dismal pilot for a crappy new show, and this was the only way to pull viewers! It is a sad and cynical thing and shame on NBC for doing it.
- And finally, while I don’t like the song, NOT showing Muse doing their ‘Olympic Theme’ is simply unforgivable.
I honestly don’t think that NBC could have done any worse with their coverage if they had tried, not even counting how dreadful it was every time Ryan Seacrest was on screen. Globally so many other broadcast companies – most notably CTV from Canada and the BBC from the UK – did SO much better and at a much lower cost that it is embarassing to be stuck watching NBC. Which of course we were, since ironically government deregulation has allowed for greater levels of blocking and censorship … but on the part of corporations now.
Gawker and Deadspin have put together clips from all of the omissions on their sites. Check them out … but note that the #NBCFail is an ACTIVE failure – they didn’t just ineptly edit stuff, they are now going around trying to BLOCK people from seeing it! As noted:
Note: We were forced to severely edit these clips down. That’s unfortunate, because as of this writing there is no way for U.S. viewers to see what NBC refuses to show them. We encourage you to look around for the full-length versions.