Sunday, February 14, 2010

Why NBC should never, ever cover the Olympics again

Dear NBC,

You may have noticed that Canada's Alexandre Bilodeau won the gold medal in tonight's men's moguls competition at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games (our first-ever gold medal win on home soil...yay Canada!) Or maybe you didn't because you were too busy focusing on American athletes to the exclusion of all others. I get that you're an American network broadcasting to American viewers. But when you pretend that the Olympics are an All-American event, you kinda miss the point of the whole exercise. Just sayin'.

So, about the Alex Bilodeau story. An interesting thing, this, as Alex's older brother, Frederic, has Cerebral Palsy. The skier has long seen his brother as his inspiration, saying if Frederic can overcome his challenges, then there's no reason that he can't give it his all, too. This isn't the faux-emotional, slickly packaged, tape-delay-broadcast silliness that passes for infotainment on NBC. It's real. And it's not really about sport, per se. It's about the meaning of sport. It's a subtle difference, I know, but everything I've seen in your so-called coverage strongly suggests you don't quite appreciate subtleties.

Tonight, Canadians were treated to a moment that'll hopefully help them lead better lives and become better people. I'm sorry your viewers didn't have this opportunity. I'm not saying that NBC sucks - but I'm Canadian, so I'm nicer than some of your viewers. Instead, I'd like to politely suggest that you try to catch the Canadian video sometime (I'm sure CTV will loan it to ya) so you can learn a lesson or two for the next Games you cover. I think the strategy you've used to broadcast the games is starting to lose its golden luster.

Thanks for hearing me out. Have a great rest-of-Games.



Goddess said...

I watched the opening ceremonies on BBC2 online rather than on NBC. I got to see it in its entirety, in real time, without commercials, with every single team entering the stadium given full focus - the way it should be.

Mike Wood said...

Of course NBC is the network that thought on Friday that it was Michael J Fox who ran across the country for cancer research, and even ran an image of him during Matt Lauer's (I think) comment speculating on who would light the final Olympic flame.

Peter Anthony Holder said...


I agree with you and disagree with you at the same time.

I agree that over the years NBC (and ABC before them) have shown the Olympics as if it were only the U.S. involved.

While I don't agree with this type of broadcast, and that's why I've always enjoyed CBC in the past and now CTV, I can't fault NBC for what they are doing.

That's because market research sadly suggests that a VERY, VERY American broadcast is what their audience wants.

The same thing happens in news. CNN is getting hammered by some critics because over the last month it has focused too much on Haiti. I've applauded CNN for its Haiti coverage yet there are media types in the States who have said it was just too much, especially since it's not an American story.

Bottom line, let NBC cover the games the way it sees fit. They know their audience.

I haven't watched any of NBC's coverage, because this is what I expected. Just as long as they do a good job doing what they've mandated to do, then let them have their games.

We here in Canada can watch them, or go to CTV, TSN, TSN2, RDS & SportsNet. It's an embarrassment of riches for us!

dianne - bunny trails said...

While I'm not happy with NBC, I have to say that they did share the human interest story on Alex Bilodeau and his brother, Frederic, both in narrative form and while interviewing Alex. The camera zoomed in on Frederic during his brother's skiing as well.

Again, I really don't like NBC's coverage and I could seriously do without Bob Costa, but I can't say it's for the reason that you listed.

Vardit said...

Well said, Carmi, but I learned long ago never to watch NBC for any news coverage. For me, NBC stands for Nasty Biased Corporation

Jeremiah Andrews said...

You learn the "slant" message when you move from the U.S. to Canada. We do things differently here. That is one big lesson I learned when I moved to Montreal.

The U.S. feeds did not even pick up on the jubilation that erupted in Vancouver tonight. I mean the country went MAD!!! And they only want to show American athletes and that's understandable. But it would be more "global" if they showed the world on stage instead of America on stage.

CBC is chewing their teeth not being the Canadian Broadcaster, as Peter Mansbridge was lamenting tonight on camera. I think CTV is doing a swell job.

The medal hunt is on between US and the U.S. we'll see how much further they dig themselves into the ground.


Anonymous said...

NBC is all over the satellite menus so sometimes it's hard to notice you're watching an American station at first - until the onslaught of Americanism - they deserve a rap on the hand but we won't expect them to change anytime soon. Eh?

Whit said...

I think the coverage sucks and it pisses me off that it's delayed 3 hours (at least), but I will say that they did cover the storyline you mention - the first gold on home soil and the inspiration of the skiier's brother with some detail.

NJ said...

We only watched the coverage on CTV here which I have found to be excellent. After I watched the human interest story about Alexandre and Frederic I knew who I definitely was rooting for. The look of pure jubilation on Frederic's face said it all for me.

My father takes his expressvu dish with him on his snowboard journey every year just so he can get his fill of Canadian news, curling and hockey.

Sara said...

I would love to be able to catch the Olympics on anything but NBC...

And,I personally think, Matt Lauer is an idiot!

But, it is all I get so I, too, have to put up with the bias of it being slanted toward us here in America. I would love to know the other stories - because it is about the Olympics!

Cloudia said...

thrilled for dear Canada!

Charles said...

What is NBC doing? Showing the pair skating after prime time. Also NBC goes from event to event. This is crazy. It is all marketing, but people are not buying this load of stuff I can't write on this blog. NBC just wants to sell commercials and the product is defective.

Ryanne said...

I couldn't agree more. I am so frustrated with the way they cover all the games. I like to see EVERYONE preform. I don't care where they are from. I want to hear the inspiring stories from all over the world.
They have exclusive coverage and hardly show anything...Love to know what that is all about. Wish I could watch it on CTV or nearly any other place. And I must say, I was jumping up and down cheering when Canada finally got the Gold! I lived in Canada for a while, and LOVE you guys!

Pamela said...

One of the few times I'm going to disagree with you.

I watched it -- and it was very much a coverage that put the young man in the spotlight

There seemed to be genuine anticipation, praise, and celebration. I didn't even know that the US kid finished third as it was never even mentioned (or if so, done so quickly that I missed it)

Then the medal ceremony was also highlighted the next night.

There are three NBC channels -- so perhaps we were watching different coverage?

MissMeliss said...

If I had an option other than NBC, I'd be using it, but I live in Texas, where kids have to say the TEXAS pledge of allegiance in addition to the USA pledge in school in the mornings - seriously.

I may be an American, but I would much rather see ALL of the competitors, all of the teams, all of the joy when ANYONE wins.

NBC does NOT know what I want.

Anne said...

I saw that NBC did run the brothers' story later, thanking the Canadian network for providing it, a little late, but at least we got to see the story and inspiration.

Sleepypete said...

It's a bit more balanced over in Blighty. BBC will focus on GB athletes but there aren't enough of them there to guarantee blanket coverage.

Been enjoying the games so far :-) Especially as it's on one of the channels I can get in HD ...