NBC Olympic coverage: Why it sucked

February 28th, 2010 by Laura Leave a reply »

At the start of the games, I complained about the coverage… and as the games end (and the USA is behind Canada in the game for ice hockey gold), it is time to complain again.  This is a crosspost based on a comment I made to another blog.

The coverage was awful. It could have been better had NBC used CNBC, MSNBC and USA more effectively to cover events. (But even those often had tape delays, or showed the second half of a two part event. Where was the ski jumping?)

It was made worse by the Pixar commercials in the middle of coverage. I get it. Pixar has a movie coming out about vikings and dragons… but after the third or forth time a commentator cut to the Pixar vision of generic Olympic event in viking times? I had enough of that. The second week had less of that, and instead involved promotion of another movie that the anchors didn’t plug as much.

They decided before the games who the athletes that we would care about were. They had video packages made. We got to see them again and again when ever they could think of a relevant reason to show those pre-packaged clips instead of actual sports. When unknown sports heroes arose, no one seemed to know how to cover those.

There were few options to watch events live on their website, except for the few that were being run live on their sister networks.

There were large moments of advertising Whistler and British Columbia… which would have been awesome, had they not felt like everything being aired by others trying to capitalize on the Olympic feeling.

Then we had moments of sexism, where commentators insisted on calling female athletes girls. We had moments of putting down and insulting Olympians because the commentators didn’t see their sport as a real sport. We had moments of homophobic behavior where commentators mocked Johnny Weir for what they considered his effeminate behavior. We had moments where blatant racism wasn’t called out with the Russians and their Aboriginal dance but still happily highlighting their lovely and interesting costumes.

It was a failure for the US and pretty embarrassing. It almost explains why the USOC screwed Chicago out of hosting 2016 in order to try to get their own network to cover the events.

  • I actually was not as motivated about watching the Olympics this year. We do not have people in the Olympics, like in figure skating that could be as lovable as Scott Hamilton and people who completed well over a decade or so. There is a loss in driving up more fans and making them connect.

    Then, there was the speed track. Apolo Ohno should not have been disqualified. He barely even touched and did not even push. It does not take a professional athlete for that. Yahoo covered it and called him a whiner, which he was right to complain. It was a bad call. It does not matter if he had 8 medals.

    The problem is that in another heat, he was pushed big time and it was not even called.

  • The Ohno situation didn't bother me much. It seemed a bit unfair... but the coverage was pretty crappy. NBC was happy to promote him, give his personal story but they didn't really cover that issue much, to explain why things were like during the team heats. And often, they didn't show the qualifiers. If they did show qualifiers, it was only because the American didn't make it to the next round. :(

  • And here is McGuire and Mick Molloy being called out:


  • Yes. Athletes above 18 are called women.

    And the Aboriginal dance was called out in a big way in Australia.

    (Channel 9's coverage wasn't much better in some respects, even though it does have a big reputation as "the Olympic channel").

    On the ABC's Media Watch, Eddie McGuire was called out for homophobia and sexism, at the very least.

  • American coverage was really, really, really awful. The folks on the Today Show engaging in the mildly homophobic behavior? Had repeatedly done it before. The racism issue of the one dance didn't blip here. The media just let it pass for the most part. The entertainment shows on the same network were happy to poke fun a various costumes but didn't distinguish the Russian pair as different than the rest.

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