Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Olympic sport of sports coverage

When I think about the Olympics this year, it's mostly connected with Ravelympics/Ravellenics.  I'm almost done with my Union Jack improvised monster, and have already started my second project, a pair of dishcloths.  I can knit things up so much faster now, it's amazing.

It seems like there are two things everyone not crafting is talking about when it comes to the Olympics: the Queen jumping out of a helicopter with James Bond, and how awful NBC's coverage is.

For my international readers, and any Americans not watching, NBC Universal is showing live coverage of the Olympics online as well as on their basketful of other networks, like MSNBC and Bravo.  NBC itself also has live coverage throughout the day, with occasional breaks for local news, etc.  However, they are saving what they feel are the most popular events to show on tape delay in primetime.  Basically, pretending like we don't already know what happened earlier in the day.  Because we don't go online, watch ESPN, or listen to NPR.  We also wear corsets and have candles in the streetlamps.

This is nothing new for NBC.  Their desire to pretend that we live in the dark ages of information is something tennis fans know all too well.  Until this year, we were being held hostage by their coverage of the last week of Wimbledon, when they would put semi-finals and even the finals themselves on tape delay and block any means of watching live.  Thankfully tennis seems to be the one sport with great TV coverage because it's taken over daytime on Bravo.

Live is an important concept for sports-watching.  Aside from it being far less fun when you know the result, you lose that irrational suspension of disbelief that makes you feel like you can actually impact the way your team or player performs if you just shout a little louder, clap a little harder, or think more empowering thoughts.  And without that, a lot of the magic is gone.

You know who's good at magic?  Mickey Mouse.  Disney and ABC are one and the same, and they also include among their ranks the powerhouse of sports programming: ESPN.  ESPN, which, starting this year, had the entire Championships live.  They had it on ESPN2, then simultaneously on both ESPN and ESPN2 in the second week to catch all the important matches.  They even had it online on ESPN3 where you could choose to watch matches that would never make it onto the air.  The finals were live on ESPN and then rebroadcast on tape delay on ABC. So those who only get those basic networks still got to sleep in and watch on their own time with the same kind of coverage, while a whole lot of us got something a million times better.

All I'm saying is, NBC likes to pretend that gymnasts are actually getting their medals at 4 in the morning in London.  If they keep pretending, soon they are also only going to be pretending to have contracts for all of these events.  They have until 2020 to get it together...

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