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A word about NBC

I've always considered attending and covering the Olympics (I'm no grizzled veteran, this being only my fourth Games) a huge honor that contains a significant ancillary benefit: Being at the Olympics means not having to watch the coverage on NBC.

I knew this only in the abstract, because the absurd thing about being at the Games and trying to provide a sense of what's going on and determine what's important to those back home is we normally have no idea how those very people back home are seeing the same events we're covering. NBC is the filter that determines what happens here, what America sees, and what's important -- whether we like it or not.

Monday night, I got a taste of what I've been missing. The cable system in my apartment in Whistler gets the network stations from Seattle, just across the border to the south. So I was able to flip on NBC's coverage of the men's downhill, which I covered the very same day.

The drama of a ski race in person is a bit odd. Fans and journalists can't see the whole course, but race organizers provide giant television screens at the base of the mountain, and the whole endeavor becomes a mass movement of necks -- from the screen, to the clock, to the screen, to the mountain, where a skier finally appears, then back to the clock. The drama builds over the course of maybe a 90-minute span. The top 30 skiers -- Monday's field was 64 -- are the seeded guys, the only people with true chances of winning. So when someone early posts a time, fans and journalists and skiers alike await the barrage of runs from the top competitors still to come, seeing whether that time holds up. It's tons of fun.

Take Monday. American Bode Miller went off eighth, and was really the first true star to take to the course in Whistler. To the naked eye, his run looked solid, and his teammates confirmed it later. He was excellent through the middle portion of the course, struggled slightly at the bottom, but was a contender the moment he finished.

"I saw Miller skiing," Didier Cuche of Switzerland, the pre-race favorite, said afterward, "and I said, 'That's maybe gold.'"

NBC would have loved it to be gold, and maybe they would have milked the skiing coverage if it had been. But I was stunned -- perhaps naively so -- by what happened next in the broadcast. They started jumping through the competition. They showed Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal, who went eight skiers after Miller, almost immediately. Svindal, of course, topped Miller by two hundredths of a second.

Then -- and this is where it started to get egregious -- they showed Switzerland's Didier Defago, who laid down the eventual gold medal-winning run. The problem: Defago was two skiers after Svindal. The bigger problem: The skier they skipped was Austria's Michael Walchhofer, officially the fastest guy in the pre-event training run, the downhill silver medalist in 2006, and a major contender in this race.

By this point, any fan with a real knowledge of skiing back home had to be completely alienated, and had to know something was up. So many storylines were being tossed aside, not the least of which was Canada's Manny Osborne-Paradis, who grew up at Whistler and is third in the World Cup downhill standings. But it continued to get worse. The 20th starter, two after Defago, was Switzerland's Carlo Janka, a rising star on the World Cup circuit who is second in the World Cup downhill standings. Did NBC show him? Nope.

They went right to Cuche, who started 22nd. They showed a little feature on how Cuche broke his thumb during the season, raising questions about his preparation for the Olympics. They had to show Cuche, who leads the downhill standings and is one of the best skiers in the world. But after that? They showed Canada's Robbie Dixon, who wiped out, and then quickly awarded the medals to Defago, Svindal and Miller. They didn't even show the final American, California's Marco Sullivan, who had a harrowing run and an eventual crash.

The result of all this is that a significant portion of the drama is sapped from the event. There's no sense of what it's like for Miller at the base of the mountain, wondering if Walchhofer or Cuche or Janka or someone else is going to knock him off the podium. There's also no sense of what a skiing competition is like. In a tacit way, NBC is admitting that Alpine skiing, one of the flagship sports of the Winter Olympics, isn't interesting enough to hold its audience.

Why, then, even broadcast the Games? I understand that America can't stop in the middle of a work day to watch a couple hours of skiing, and that delaying some things to prime time maximizes the audience. But how did NBC fill the time immediately after the skiing competition? With a feature from Mary Carillo, who I love. But it was from Manitoba, which is not near here. And it was on polar bears. Seriously.

The message: As you sit on your couch for the next two weeks, remind yourself that what you're watching are merely little slices of the Olympics. For most of America, the real Games will never be seen.

By Barry Svrluga  |  February 16, 2010; 11:52 AM ET
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NBC sucks, but unfortunately there's no alternative.

I was watching the Men's Moguls medal ceremony last night, and Costas was rambling while the medals were being presented. I wanted to fly to Vancouver to shut him up myself, as it was taking away from the "moment."

It's also very, very unfortunate that Mike Emrick does the PBP for hockey. He's about as bad as they come. Jim Hughson rules!

I remember when Gary Thorne announced speed skating a couple of Olympiads ago. He actually made it interesting and compelling. NBC's announcing crew now is horrible. Oh how I long for the Canadian TV feed.

Posted by: paperboy76 | February 16, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

What? The Winter Olympics is more than figure-skating drama and kitschy stories about the athletes who win? Say it ain't so, Joe!

NBC knows that it's competing with the soap-operas during the day and it's coverage shows = it blows worse than a noreaster hitting DC for 2 feet of fluffy white flakes.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | February 16, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I live in Washington State, close enough to the border to get CTV. They showed the Men's downhill live across the country in its entirety. It started at 10:30 AM local time. I loved it, and they showed it without commercial breaks. Then later in the evening they did a "recap" showing some of the top runs. But they told you who won before the recap started, they didn't pretend, as NBC so often does, that its happening live when it wasn't.

The Canadian feed isn't perfect, they trim some events, and time shift also. Their interviews and in depth pieces are almost exclusively on Canadian Athletes. But I vastly prefer it to NBC, especially appreciate having more events shown live and chunks w/o commericals. They also showed the Men's Moguls final live and without commercials, a whole hour that showed all the final runs.

Posted by: EllenK1 | February 16, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I understand NBC is American, but is it right to show the American guy that ends 15th instead the Austrian (or whatever) that ends 1st?

Posted by: cordobes17 | February 16, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I agree wholeheartedly. When I tune in to the Olympic Games, I want to watch the Olympic GAMES, not these interest stories around them. There are more than enough sports going on to fill the time NBC has allotted for the Olympics, and I'm sure their bid was hard won. If they don't have the focus necessary, or they can't find appropriate commentators, then perhaps NBC doesn't deserve the contract to cover this important international sports event!

Posted by: DC_Grrl | February 16, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

This is quickly becoming very anticlimatic. It seems that for just about any sport on tape delay and airing in prime time that is NOT figure skating, if they are showing an athlete that is not an American, you know that it's likely that athlete is going to win a medal.

It's more like watching Sportscenter with some highlights rather than trying to recreate any of the drama that could come from actually watching the event.

Posted by: dugly2ugly | February 16, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

+1 for this entire post, Post.

I lived in Frankfurt during the 1996 and 1998 games. US Armed Forces TV was still broadcasting there and I literally was able to watch side-by-side coverage: AFTV carrying NBC and the German coverage. It was such an epic fail for NBC. To say the Germans blew away NBC is an understatement. German TV lacked jingoism and more importantly showed things LIVE (and followed events from start to finish so you could feel the natural, not manufactured drama). I had no interest in curling until one night I watched the German coverage which made me a convert as I learned the ins and outs of the sport and got fully caught up in the competition.

In 2000 I lived in London. The BBC's coverage from Sydney was also superb. LIVE around the clock, with a primetime package for those wanting/needing their Olympics digested. Otherwise the Beeb knew how to get out of the way and let the events shine in REAL TIME.

Posted by: ryanvb | February 16, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

i agree...canadian coverage in washington state...

unfortunately i dont get the CTV coverage...but used to watch their coverage on CBC when they had the rights...i would watch the entire olympics on CBC and not a lick on nbc...

totally done right!!!

Posted by: deadskin | February 16, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I remember watching the Nagano games. Due to a weather-induced (I think) scheduling change, CBS aired the men's downhill live. What a revelation. It was incredibly exciting, including Herman Maier's spectacular crash for the ages. I wish NBC would air events live and then replay their preferred highlights in prime time. I'd be willing to sit through that (and NBC's commercials) in exchange for live footage.

Posted by: housefamous | February 16, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm just waiting for the Curling coverage to begin. One of the most exciting events in sports, it's like watching your mother sweep the kitchen floor...

Posted by: randysbailin | February 16, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I am glad you mentioned this today. I was very frustrated yesterday. I feel like NBC missed a great opportunity to show a very exciting event live. While I know many people had to work yesterday, it was still a federal holiday and many people were at home when this event began. What a major disappointment.

Posted by: Croutons | February 16, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I knew that something was funny while watching the Men's Downhill, but what Mr. Svrluga is saying just stamped my thought. I saw Bode Miller with the number 8 bib, but they only showed 4 skiers and one of them fell. NBC is PIMPING THE GAMES AND THE VIEWER!

Posted by: ENJOYA | February 16, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Spot on post, Barry.

NBC has learned to sap the spirit and enjoyment out of one of the world's finest things.

Add that to the fact that we have the internet and can see or hear about events, they've made the prime time broadcast a total piece of garbage.

Posted by: kolbkl | February 16, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

NBC has never done a good job covering events like this. Ever since Matt Lauer took the reign...and let that Slimfast tag-along Al Roker stay around as if he's going to help ratings...I heard the toilet flush. So who in their right mind would believe that NBC would be serious about Olympic coverage?

I remember years ago when ABC would cover the Olympics, both winter and summer...and covered nearly every event they had!...once upon a time...

Even CBS did a better job when they covered the Winter Games in the 90's...which is when I was in love with Michelle Kwan so of COURSE I followed the games then....hee hee! Actually, America had a pretty nice pool of talent those years so the Winter Games were very exciting during the 90's...even the early 2000's were cool.

But these days, I won't even watch NBC's coverage. Every time I see Al Roker sitting on the tellie I get this gnawing pain in my left eye and then I go grab a beer to ease it all...BUT...

I am ever loyal to my local NBA news broadcast WRC-TV 4. Hi Doreen! =]

Posted by: cbmuzik | February 16, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Forget NBC. Go to and watch it live on any of the eurosport channels they carry. You see the COMPETITON and not the inane USA-centric blathering nonesense NBC dishes up.

Posted by: mxipp | February 16, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

They showed the ENTIRE live cross country races during the day which are not particularly exciting until just at the end. Fortunatly, I DVRed them so I could fast-forward through 4 hours of cross country in 20 minutes. Plus, they showed the qualifying runs of snowboard cross (which is okay but not great on TV), skipped most of the first round where they race together (which I would have loved to see), and then skipped ahead to the later rounds. I would have watched ALL of the snowboard cross or downhill skiing if it was on.

Over on USA, MSNBC, and CNBC, meanwhile, they are showing informercials and reruns most of the time. Kind of mind-boggling that NBC thinks that we want to see informercials and polar bear specials over actual sports.

Posted by: rg_okc | February 16, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

It's long been clear to me that Olympics coverage isn't about sport, or games, or international cooperation, or competition. It's about making as much money as possible. The IOC, the ultimate winner of all that cash, pretends it's all for the greater good--that they need all this money to further the goals of "the Olympic movement." But if that movement only produces "games" like the ones we've seen for the past decade, the movement should stop moving.

And somewhere along the way some consultant told NBC and the IOC that the way to max out the cash is to create drama, by any means necessary (except, of course, by covering anything that might be the teensiest bit embarassing or awkward for the host nation, its government, or the IOC---unless of course the host is the U.S., in which case everyone but the IOC itself is fair game).

The Olympic Games, in other words, are one big reality show, and about as classy.

If this was really about sport, we'd be treated to actual coverage of events as they unfold, minus the backstory that I guess someone thinks is necessary to broaden the viewing demographic. Primetime coverage wouldn't be all figure skating, all the time. Less high-profile events would get the attention they deserve, perhaps with some tutorials for those of us who might like to learn a bit about the event and how it works.

When I was a kid the Olympics were that once-every-four-years excuse to get interested in sports that you could happily ignore until the next Olympics. The drama came from the fact that it was the best in the world, competing for their nations' honor. Remember seeing medals ceremonies that didn't feature Americans on the podium -- all those national anthems that you weren't familiar with? Truly enjoying the wider world of sports, rather than hype about a handful of athletes in the same handful of events. Stars who were made because they accomplished something at the Games, rather than pre-packaged "stars" that are hyped before they even compete? (Seriously, how early do they start crafting those backstory vignettes? Do they even wait for the cauldron to be extinguished at the last games before they start planning the dreck and schlock for the next games?) Drama that was surprising and that was allowed to unfold against the pageantry of the Games, rather than something so obviously stitched together before the torch was even lit that the seams show?

For years now the Games have been one fat, sopping wet, tired cliche, one that's far too focused on U.S. athletes and a handful of events. And that's why I've stopped caring. Every 2-4 years it's the same crappy movie but with a different set of stars. American Idol, Survivor, the Olympics . . . it's all the same.

What else is on?

Posted by: dcpost1 | February 16, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Does Bob Costas where a toupee, or is it just hair dye?

Posted by: coonchuck1 | February 16, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

re: "NBC is admitting that Alpine skiing, one of the flagship sports of the Winter Olympics, isn't interesting enough to hold its audience."

NBC admitting something that is, in fact, true? I'm shocked, SHOCKED I tell you!

Posted by: Ron16 | February 16, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

NBC's handling of the mens downhill defies comprehension.

Yesterday, they had a Monday holiday, perfect for airing the downhill live.

They didn't show it, so I figured "fine, they'll devote the primetime show to the race."

Upon tuning in, all they show is a half hour clip job?

They robbed the country of seeing the winter games signature event.

(This being said, when they have live events to cover, they're pretty good -- the short track skating on night one was actually riveting.)

Posted by: Georgetwoner | February 16, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm shocked that you are just now figuring this out. NBC has always for all their Olympics coverage done an awful job at showing the sports. Instead, they just show Americans when they can and a few of the top finishers and then fill the rest with human interested stories that I rather not see. Then there is cross promotion. I really don't care about an animated movie about Viking snowboarders, but NBC feels the need to show 3-4 minutes about that before going to the snowboard cross.

My biggest disappointment is that CBC (which I get on my cable) no longer has the Olympics coverage for Canada. They did a far superior job showing the Beijing games and I would watch them over NBC all the time.

Posted by: ricecloudnine | February 16, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Echoing other comments we were in Cancun during the 2008 Beijing Games and it was nice to see more than just the American swimmers and runners and Usain Bolt. It is not something you think about much while watching NBC's coverage, but suddenly you see athletes from Cuba and go "whoa!".

Nearly all of the alpine skiing events are like this (not so much with Nordic) and it makes for a less than stellar broadcast. I like how NBC showed all or most of the short track speed skating heats (maybe because they are 3 minutes each).

Posted by: Ebola_22039 | February 16, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I understand NBC is American, but is it right to show the American guy that ends 15th instead the Austrian (or whatever) that ends 1st?

Posted by: cordobes17 | February 16, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse


Who says they shouldn't show the guy who finishes first? What most people want is to see BOTH of those runs.

Posted by: beach3 | February 16, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

My dad has lived as a retiree in Costa Rica for nearly 20 years now, and can literally get 12 hours a day of live coverage of the Olympics from a whole bunch of different countries. TEN minutes of that is a WHOLE lot better than an entire EVENING of prepackaged NBC prime-time crap.

Posted by: Juan-John1 | February 16, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I totally echo this sentiment. If I want to watch sob stories I'll watch the Lifetime channel. In fact, if NBC is so concerned about ratings, maybe they should give the actual sport coverage to channels that know how to do it properly and just run the sob stories all night long, so the rest of us can go watch, you know, the actual sporting events in their entirety. And if not their entirety, at least, say, the top half of those who place if the field is large.
My thanks to the previous commentator who posted about the EU networks. Will have to check that out before I give up on the Olympics entirely. NBC, we aren't tuning in, we're tuning out.

Posted by: redbecca | February 16, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

"I'm just waiting for the Curling coverage to begin. One of the most exciting events in sports, it's like watching your mother sweep the kitchen floor...
-- randysbailin "
You're in luck, curling starts today. CTV just showed the men's Canada/Norway match start to finish -about 3 hours worth. I didn't watch so much as check on it once in a while to see if it was still on. The Norwegian curling team gets top marks for their flashy trousers.

Posted by: EllenK1 | February 16, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

The Olympics, brought to you by NBC News.

I agree, less B-roll and human interest stories and much more event coverage with proven announcers and play callers.

1) It's time to retire Dick Buttons to pasture
2) Mary Curillo in HD is horrifying, and stick a sock in that mouth too
3) One more "Prehistoric" animated version of a sporting event, a crass and in-your-face cross pollination of blatant advertising for the new Disney kids flick and I *will* go Jurassic on your you know what
4) Keep the "LIVE" icon constantly on the top right banner when the feed is live
5) Bob Costas is a small man with tiny little feet and itty bitty hands, but actually is the most professional announcer and knows his subject well. Now if we could only get him to SHUT UP WHEN THEY'RE PLAYING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM DURING THE MEDAL CEREMONY.
6) Chris Collinsworth [sic] virtually raped (in his mind) those female skiers and skateboarders during the opening ceremony and in other interviews. Chris, put it back in your pants, man.

That's all I can think of for now.

I'll have more to add in another, what, 13 or so days. Sigh.

Posted by: JimGoldbloomVA | February 16, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

What kills me is these are the same arguments that many Americans have had with every Olympic games. NBC chooses not to respond and does the same type of coverage over and over and over again.

Is it any wonder they're losing $250 million them?

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | February 16, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

So very disappointing to see how NBC has fallen in the coverage of one of sports and the world's greatest sporting events. How I long for the days of ABC and the passion of their coverage. NBC should never have been allowed to purchase the rights for so many years and Olympics. The monopoly is stale!

Posted by: cls333 | February 16, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree. The alpine coverage was dreadful.

Posted by: richs91 | February 16, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I thought there coverage of the XC and combined nordic was quite good and thorough. Maybe the problem is that they try to cut a bunch of sports into prime time and, as a result, they can't show everything. Maybe they could show the whole thing on one channel, and make clear that primetime is just "highlights."

Posted by: hacksaw | February 16, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Can Americans tune in to You can watch all the coverage on all the CTV networks, including mainline CTV and the all-sports TSN and Sportsnet channels.
I've been in the US on business and tried to watch NHL games on TSN, but they detect the hotel's US ISP address and they block the video. Something to do with cross-border "broadcast" rights. (I solved that issue by getting a Slingbox)

Posted by: kingstonsean | February 16, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: soccerman | February 16, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

So very disappointing to see how NBC has fallen in the coverage of one of sports and the world's greatest sporting events. How I long for the days of ABC and the passion of their coverage. NBC should never have been allowed to purchase the rights for so many years of the Olympics. The monopoly is stale!

Posted by: cls333 | February 16, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

obviously, barry would have been equally disappointed with tom shales' love letter to NBC this morning...

Posted by: rossva81 | February 16, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

All season, I have been watching Universal Sports coverage of the women's and mens skiing. Although most of the broadcasts were delayed and consolidated, they always showed at least 20-30 skiers, and let the tension of the day build as skiers came down. I was seriously disappointed watching NBC olympic coverage; their quest to produce everything into small packages made watching any of the events quite frustrating.

Posted by: PhillyTerp | February 16, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

They should be handling this like the NCAA tourney. It should be Olympic Madness instead or March Madness.

All events, all the time. You should be dizzy from the coverage.

Posted by: keithrjackson | February 16, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

PLEASE EVISCERATE NBC for their REALLY annoying ads in the middle of coverage for that stupid Dragons movie. Again and again and again and.... I mean, this is egregious and just so irritating... I was pretty neutral on NBC prior to the Olympics, but this is making me a hater pretty quick...

Posted by: rjonward | February 16, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

as at least one other person said, the most shocking thing to me is that cnbc and usa network are filled with infomercials while nbc dumps most of the olympics into the trash. at least they'll have a little hocky on cnbc tonight, but nothng on usa. they fear cannibalizing their main broadcast, but don't realize that i just go elsewhere rather than watch the ridiculous broadcaset set couch interviews in lieu of sports.

Posted by: justkiddingdc | February 16, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Just want to add my hate to NBC...
Because of the refusal to show huge events like alping skiing live and when they do show them, show a very edited version.
I love love love the olympics and i still watch them.
I also want to say I like most of the nbc personalities. They seem well informed and personable enough.

Posted by: warthog | February 16, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

What upsets me the most is that they are using their Universal Sports channel to show downhill skiing and snowboard cross from other events as the actual events are happening and go unaired. I don't mind them skipping around or interrupting one event to show a heat of particular interest on occasion in a live broadcast, but there's no excuse to sprinkle three pre-taped, one minute races across three hours of figure skating.

Posted by: bradleydwayne | February 16, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

"By this point, any fan with a real knowledge of skiing back home had to be completely alienated"

Yes, all three of those people were very upset.

Posted by: junkiwonteverread | February 16, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm able to watch the CTV coverage from inside the US. They covered the race live, and showed over 40 skiers in the Downhill. The only annoying thing that CTV did was go to a short commercial break after the first 15 racers and when they came back for racer 16, Svindal, the silver medalist, he was about 20 seconds into his run.

Posted by: macneilb | February 16, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

NBC sports coverage in general is terrible, but their Olympics coverage is the worst.

Posted by: lastort1 | February 16, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse


I "watched" the downhill "results" on the NBC Olympics website, which was basically me watching times get posted on a grid. It was fun watching Walchhofer lose out and see Cuche's time in the final split go from .03 to .3, virtually assuring Miller of the medal. I hung around to see the TV broadcast, but was bitterly disappointed they didn't package the runs better, especially since the failure at the speed skating arena bumped all of that coverage out of prime time. I'll watch the event on the replay now that it's posted. Since they are showing weather reports on NBC right now.



Posted by: jayrockers | February 16, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for this beautifully written essay Barry; and thank you to all those who posted helping me realize that I'm not alone!! This country is turning (or has turned) into what Russia used to be in it's prime, and NBC's coverage exemplifies this with all it's propagandist bent and nationalistic dribble.

I'm with Cordobes17 (mostro): why show an American coming in 15th place and not show us the top finishers?? Do you all remember the travesty that NBC made of the 100m finals in 2008?? Not showing Bolt run that historic race in real time!!?? That was truly criminal...It's as if admiring athletes from other nationalities is somehow a huge trespass!! Let us not become so small minded.

We as a society are caught in a vicious cycle of corporate greed which constantly diminishes our quality of life, eroding it bit by bit in the name of free enterprise. Both NBC and us would be better served if only they would trust in the compelling power of the competition, thus elevating the viewership's "IQ" and by default raising both our collective interest and ultimately, their ratings. But, unfortunately they fail to see the big picture.

The spirit of the Olympics is one of global brotherhood. Athletes from all over the world coming together to showcase their craft and excellence while giving us a glimpse into the highest expression of the human spirit through the prism of sport. This life affirming truth should know no flag or corporate emblem.

Posted by: FEDE2 | February 16, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Isn't this a real old story about the No Brain Company's Olympics coverage - or the lack thereof? I miss the days when ABC covered the Olympics and showed more variety of events, minus the overdramatic and cutesy nonsense that are the staples of the jingoistic NBC.

Posted by: TalkingHead1 | February 17, 2010 1:08 AM | Report abuse

We miss you, Jim MacKay.

Posted by: jdmohre | February 17, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

NBC's coverage is awful. After only a few days I'm already completely fed up with the chauvinistic coverage of the American athletes. On Saturday they barely talked about the gold medal winner in the short track event. Ditto for the Nordic combined event Sunday in which an American took the silver-um, did someone win a gold, yes, and golly, since they weren't American NBC could care less.

There are so many reasons why people turn off the Olympics, and most of those have to do with this second-rate coverage.

Posted by: sanderling5 | February 17, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately it feels like a broken record. Everytime the Olympics roll around, NBC's coverage is the same pre-packaged disappointment. I'm also disappointed that they aren't utilizing their Universal Sports channel (which plays olympic reruns half the time) to show the actual live Olympics...instead, its actually showing reruns of previous skating events...during the Olympics!

I'm not sure what the answer is here. Obviously NBC has done some market research that says Americans can't handle watching sporting events in their enterirety and that we need them to be cut and pasted together in order to make them "exciting." I wish they at least utilized their other channels to a greater extent to show as many events as possible.
I will also concur the rediculous "How to train your dragon" promos need to stop. The movie looks cute, but showing the same promo time after time with a lead in giving the impression that its new is rediculous.
Every time the Olympics roll around I'm excited to see the competitions, and every time, the coverage is a complete disappointment. Especially this year...the Olympics are in North America, show the events live! I can only imagine how awful its going to be in two years in the UK, and four years in Russia.

Posted by: dubv1980 | February 17, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Memo to NBC:
Just quit now, and spare us the rest of your horrid "coverage". You are already losing your shirt on this, so just give up.You show six alpine skiers in the marquee event, but you will show six hours of curling every day? Please, just pay CTV to show their coverage, save a few bucks by not having to have all of that "talent" on site. Your programming directors should be duct taped to the chain link fence that surrounds the flame!

Posted by: smarana | February 17, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Every Olympic year we wish we could be in another country during that time period -- we were lucky enough to see some of the summer Olympics coverage last time while visiting Norway, and were so very disappointed at having to come back to the U.S. for the second week of the horrible NBC coverage. In Norway we saw actual events, and had a sense of the drama that built as the event progressed. NBC has more than one station -- couldn't they use the additional channels to show the events live, and then offer recaps on NBC during primetime? Are they really so stupid to think that people don't know the results of a daytime event by the time it airs at 11 pm at night? I'm going to check out the suggestion to view events live online -- thanks.

Posted by: bissens | February 17, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I have to admit I had given up on the Olympics as a viewing experience years ago because of the useless/jingoistic coverage and the total overkill on figure skating; I just read about it in the papers, and called it a day. But my wife digs it and I enjoy the old-school alpine sports whenever they're on....which isn't very often. It would be great if someone could summarize our viewing alternatives for live/unedited coverage of events either in real time or in replay so that we can bounce around and see what the choices are. Anyone got a list of options for quality viewing beyond I'd watch more of this if I could avoid the bloody infomercial NBC is peddling. Would that a rise in alternate viewing of the Olympics might force NBC to recast their coverage in the future.....

Posted by: maalesh | February 17, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

If you'd like to complain to a real human being, the guy listed below is the VP of Communication at NBC and has been handling all the reporter inquiries about the tape delays. He responds with the pablum that "we've surveyed our viewers and they prefer to view the games during prime time". Let him know what you really think. If you call the number listed, he has a recording with this Vancouver office tel# and Vancouver cell#.

All this info comes from a publicly posted press release. Linked here:

Name: Christopher Paul (chris) Mccloskey

Organization: NBC Universal


Phone: 212-664-5598


Posted by: laxjana | February 17, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

If they are only showing 5 skiiers in a 68 competitor event, can they even call themselves sports journalists?

Posted by: laxjana | February 17, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

NBC has dropped the ball.

Those of us self-diagnosed Olympic junkies who have never experienced the Games first-hand only know of their glory from what we see and hear on TV.

Lets take a quick trip down memory lane - back to the '92 Barcelona Games. Two words: Olympic Triplecast. Three channels: red, white, and blue. Women's Badminton Prelims at 3pm? Sure! The return of Slalom Canoeing? Absolutely. Every qualifying heat. Every obscure athlete. More stories or tragedy overcome and personal sacrifice than a Lifetime Sunday marathon. Admittedly a bit over the top (and quite pricey if I recall), but enough Olympics to make your eyes bleed - and to leave you wanting more.

Flash forward to Vancouver 2010 and CBS' coverage of, oh, the men's downhill or, say, the men's 1000m short-track races: certainly not recorded in their entirety, definately nowhere near live, and poorly repackaged into a choppy and confusion progression of time and sport. Add to that a smattering of decent commentary and the occasional horror of a Cris Collinsworth moment shortly thereafter.

Yes, NBC ended up eating almost $100 million on the TripleCast venture for the '92 Barcelona games. Pay-Per-View was clearly not the ideal broadcast partner for a major TV network trying to make a buck or two. To the Olympic junkie at home however, it was simply the best TV experience, ever.

Dear ABC/ESPN and DirecTV:

Posted by: jsm76 | February 18, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

I guess to NBC, the Olympics are just one heavily edited highlight reel of American medals and crashes. I'm looking at the starting lineup for yesterday's Women's Downhill. There were 45 starters. How many did NBC show between commercials? Maybe 6 or 7. Is that what the Olympics is all about?

I'm tired of their lame and embarrasing excuses. NBC has multiple networks they could use to show the big events live and still show their heavily edited highlight show at night. Instead they focus their resources on shutting down all live streams into this country bacause they paid millionf to NOT show us the Olympics. Kim Jumg Il would be proud.

I'm an American and I want to see the REAL Olympics, not the "NBCOlympics".

Posted by: GeorgeWFailure | February 18, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

My Letter to Mr. McCloskey (thanks for the contact info above):

I realize you are showing some kind of “reality” program instead of the actual Olympics that are going on. Would it be too much to ask for you to show the major competitions live on a lesser network or streamed on The dumbed-down audience you seem to cater to will still probably watch your heavily edited version of the games at night anyway. I’m not watching it because it makes me nauseus.

As an American, I resent the fact that you’ve spent millions of dollars to monopolize the rights to OUR OLYMPICS and then done everything in your power to prevent us from seeing them. I’m angry and I won’t forget that NBC was the network that stole another Olympics from us.

Posted by: GeorgeWFailure | February 18, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I am very tired of NBC's coverage of the Olympics. I want to see the "Winter Olympics" not the USA Olympics. For example, NBC show the women's luge. The American is in 26th place. They show her, but not most of the others ahead of her. Either cover all or don't bid on it next time. NBC is bias.

Posted by: reddwarf007 | February 19, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

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