I am baffled by NBC’s Olympics coverage. That’s not to say I hate it. I just don’t understand it. It’s new to me.
If you have been paying attention (I have), you’ve surely noticed that, unlike London, NBC is airing live coverage of events that it plans to air in prime time. It’s a marked improvement that, in 2014, you can – gasp! – watch live coverage, on TV, of major sporting events regardless of the time. You could stream all events during the last summer Olympics, but you were SOL if you wanted to watch them live on TV. You had to wait hours to see them on NBC’s taped prime time coverage. It was archaic, misguided and awful. So I applaud NBC for bending here. But I am completely baffled by their decision to use two broadcast crews to air the same event. Take for example figure skating. Oh, figure skating. I watched a lot of figure skating this weekend. I know that the best US dancing pair goes to Michigan and are taking a year off to concentrate on their craft. I know that Yulia Lipnitskaya is really, really good. And I know that Gracie Gold was built for a Wheaties box. I know these things, and I’m proud of it. Anyway, NBC is airing competitions live in the morning on NBC Sports Network with Tara Lipinski (oh my crush on her when I was 14) and Johnny Weir, who I’m convinced exists solely to anger Vladimir Putin (and it’s awesome). That’s NBC’s B crew. You can argue whether they’re better than the A crew of Scott Hamilton and that xenophobic cheerleader who yells a lot… but that’s besides the point. NBC considers them the B crew.* Fine. Yet, it’s Lipinski and Weir who broadcast the event live, and Hamilton and Co. who get the call on the tape-delayed prime time version. It’s crazy. NBC has two crews at the same event, and it appears there are two different producers, too. There are different camera angles and interviews in prime time(!). Yesterday, the live crew mentioned that Vladimir showed up to watch his 15-year-old ice princess help Russia to their first gold medal of the games. Putin was shown briefly after she skated. On the taped version? LOTS O’ PUTIN. Multiple cameras on Putin, Putin cheering, Putin hugging Evgeni Plushenko! [Like I said, I watched a lot of figure skating.] Compelling TV stuff, that was. Couldn’t be seen on the live version. It’s… weird.
*I have no idea who the play-by-play guys are, nor do I care.
Again, I get why NBC does it. Their prime time broadcast is more reality TV than sport. It’s what drives their massive ratings. That’s fine. It’s why we get backstories on athletes we’ve never heard of “who will be competing later. BUT FIRST…”
It’s why Bob Costas and his pink eye are a soothing presence to your winter evenings.
It’s why we get Mary Carillo in a Siberian cave:
I get it. And, if you don’t know the results (which is difficult), it’s compelling TV. I’m not one of those people who hates NBC’s treatment of the games as TV drama instead of sport. It’s very highly produced and often outstanding. But why… why… use two different broadcasts for the same event? Forget about the costs of double everything, it’s confusing for the viewer and often waters down both broadcasts. The live coverage of a major event shouldn’t be second-rate to the taped version. Those Putin shots and interviews with the Russian team should’ve been on TV at 11 a.m. along with 11 p.m. NBC hurts its live broadcast by withholding that stuff. The taped broadcast suffers from A) being taped and B) having the viewer spend 10 minutes saying to no one in particular: “I think I saw this… but I don’t recall hearing Scott Hamilton yell like that. Is this a different event?”
There’s no precedent for this sort of thing. A live and tape-delayed version of the same event on major networks with two different broadcast crews. It’s jarring. It’s weird. It’s the Olympics!
Let’s hit it!
But first, a word from our sponsors:
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Michael Sam is gay and will likely be the first – and only – openly gay NFL player. That’s cool. Good for him. It shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is, because there are idiots like the people quoted in this piece about why Sam being gay will affect his draft position. The media coordination of the announcement was outstanding. Ben Koo explains.
Speaking of Puuts… he showed up just about five minutes before Yulia Lipnitskaya’s gold medal-clinching skate yesterday. I imagine Vladimir approved of his ice princess. Unfortunately for Yulia, she’s only 15 and couldn’t go home with Putin. Instead I would imagine she was returned to a tiny cell somewhere in Moscow where a five-foot chain connects her to a brick wall adjacent to a tiny patch ice so she can practice her triple salchows for the good of Mother Russia. A ceiling may or may not be placed at five-feet, four-inches off the ground to prevent her from growing. These are just my educated guesses.
Anyway, no Yulia. Puuts went to the bar:
High school bans yoga pants. Somewhere, a 15-year-old boy doesn’t know what a camel toe is.
Jogger interviewed about running in snow. Falls running in snow.