There’s been plenty of ink spilled about how NBC is mishandling the Olympics. But Sarah and I are watching them tonight, and she just went on quite the rant that I hadn’t considered. See, NBC ran a whole special on the 1996 Women’s Gymnastics game, and Kerri Strug’s inspirational vault to seal the gold medal. It was followed up by an interview with Bela Karolyi. Both were nice to watch, but they highlighted a huge fail of NBC’s coverage: for so-called “prime time” Olympics, it was 8:30 before any current sports were shown!
Yes, NBC has apps. And there are also various ancillary NBC cable channels for extra Olympic coverage. But plain vanilla NBC didn’t air a minute of gameplay until 8:30, and even then it was only 3 minutes before yet another commercial break (the Kerri Strug special only received one commercial break). Sarah suddenly turned to me in the midst of this and summed it up well, “Holy crap the Olympic coverage is elitist.”
If you want to enjoy the Olympics, hopefully you have a comprehensive cable package. And an iOS or Android device for extra detail through the apps. For good measure you should also have a nice computer for extra video streaming. If you rely solely on the main NBC broadcast channel you will get a healthy diet of fluff, lots of commercials, and if you’re super lucky 3-4 uninterrupted minutes of actual Olympics. For an event that supposedly unites the country, it feels an awful lot like you need some pretty deep pockets to get the full experience.
Worst of all, the retrospective on 1996 took up valuable time between 8-9pm. Sarah and I both have vivid memories of staying up late to watch Olympic games, but when we were little, “late” was relative, and in reality we probably both were only allowed up until 9 or 9:30 (at least, I was). So not only is the narrow period of time to watch the Olympics choked with more commercials than the Super Bowl, there isn’t even a new Olympics to watch!
For all the cord cutters and tech savvy watchers out there, there are plenty of people just watching the games the old-fashioned way. Unfortunately, NBC seems intent on punishing that audience with this kind of coverage. It is easy to say that Sarah and I will turn to apps and streaming video to actually enjoy the games, but everyone who doesn’t have a house full of tech toys is stuck suffering through the same tired commercials and terrible interviews. Forget the time delayed airing, the crappy job they are doing on the actual broadcast is the true #NBCFail.