NBC is tape delaying the Olympics again. Get over it.
February 8, 2014 § Leave a comment
NBC didn’t offer live coverage of Friday’s Opening Ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. This led to the biennial tradition of people on social media loudly complaining about the network shunning modernity and clinging to the archaic practice of tape delaying Olympic events for broadcast on both coasts.
It’s getting old, people — the complaints, not the tape delay. Here are six reasons it’s time to stop whining about the delay in NBC’s Olympic coverage.
1. The Olympics — especially the Opening and Closing ceremonies — are a television show
All the spoilers you’ve heard today — the missing Olympic ring, the lighting of the torch, the crazy outfits, the beautiful ballet dancing to Tchaikovsky — do nothing to diminish the viewing experience you’ll have for the Opening Ceremony on Friday night. Tape delaying sports is one thing (we’ll get to that), but there’s no reason to be upset with a delayed parade and pro-Russia celebration.
2. People are still watching
Though the loudest voices seem to belong to people upset with NBC’s decision to tape delay, the numbers tell a different story. The tape-delayed Opening Ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics nabbed 40.7 million viewers. That’s a bigger total than at any previous Olympics, including the live broadcast of the 1996 opener from Atlanta. Those 2012 Summer Games also set ratings records despite airing fully on tape delay.
This is a key example of the media being out of touch with the viewing audience. Most people aren’t spending all day on Twitter, obsessively checking results. They flip on the TV at night and sit back to watch prepackaged highlights, edited to keep their interest. What’s wrong with that?
3. There’s no good way to broadcast an Olympics with a nine-hour time difference
I’ll give you this: It’s annoying when the West Coast has to wait to watch events that are live in the East (like happened during the Beijing and Vancouver Olympics). But Sochi is nine hours ahead of the East coast and 12 hours in front of the West Coast. Nothing is airing live in primetime anyway.
4. Most people don’t have the ability to watch a live broadcast at 11:30 a.m. ET
Would I love to be watching the Opening Ceremony live in 1080p HD with NBC commentary and its top-notch production value? Of course. But I have nothing else to do except watch the Olympics at 11:30 a.m. ET on a Friday. Most Olympic viewers are busy during the day, either with work or school or errands or whatever. Tape delaying makes sense. (On a side note: I do wish NBC would broadcast marquee events live during the weekend instead of saving them for primetime. If Sunday afternoon is good enough for the NFL, it should be good enough for the Olympics.)
“Fine, but what’s wrong with airing live sports for the people who can watch TV in the middle of a work day?”
Again, this would be nice. But streaming has rendered this argument moot. If you care enough to be concerned about the lack of midday coverage, then watching a legal, high-quality NBC stream should tide you over.
“But NBC didn’t stream the Opening Ceremony.”
See No. 1.
5. You watch everything on DVR anyway
Irony of ironies: A majority of us tape delay most our television viewing. If you use your DVR to record shows so you can watch them back at your convenience, you have no business complaining about NBC doing the same thing at the Olympics.
6. NBC does a really, really good job of broadcasting the games
None of this means to suggest the tape delay isn’t a big issue. It’s just time to move on. Don’t let this one annoyance obscure everything else NBC does well. The network airs hundreds of hours of Olympic coverage, devoting time to major sports like figure skating and hockey, as well as lesser sports like curling and biathlon. It’s all covered. NBC has experienced announcers giving solid analysis that never feels dumbed down. The graphics, camerawork and replays are top notch. During primetime, NBC airs informative segments on the culture of the host nation, as well as necessary puff pieces that help you gain an attachment to certain athletes.
Overall, NBC shines with its Olympic coverage.