(FT) John Gapper—NBC shows perfect logic but a prime time farce
This weekend, NBC kicked off its expensive coverage of the London Olympics by cutting out the part of the opening ceremony that commemorated the victims of the July 7, 2005 bombings, in favour of a soft soap interview with Michael Phelps, the record-breaking swimmer. Then, when Phelps swam (and lost) the next day, it waited eight hours to televise him in action.
What, if anything, goes through the minds of people who make such decisions? We know because the broadcasting network that has infuriated me and others, by refusing to broadcast popular events live, has been honest. It thinks that Americans are interested in live US athletes, not the foreign deceased, and it needs to recoup the $1.2bn it laid out on the London rights.
As a result, NBC’s coverage of the Olympics has been less like a sports broadcast than a surrealist farce in which the characters affect to know less than the audience.
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Posted August 2, 2012 at 8:00 am
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1. Ian+ wrote:
I’ve been watching/comparing NBC’s coverage to CTV (Canada). Sadly, the US is not being well served. Lots of superficial “human interest” type stuff and very little coverage of events that don’t have any American competitors. How can people register a protest?
August 2, 9:48 am | [comment link]
2. Br. Michael wrote:
I don’t watch the Olympics. Haven’t for years. Sick of the jingoism, politics, drug use, cheating and, of course, the press. I would simply prefer to watch the events without the cutesy garbage. The press doesn’t present it like that so I simply don’t watch.
August 2, 10:00 am | [comment link]
3. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:
No. 1: Sounds a lot like the American Network news in general. Wars in Syria and Europe in financial crisis, and we get feel good stories about some puppy that’s saved from New York rush hour traffic.
August 2, 10:08 am | [comment link]
4. Sarah wrote:
Honestly, though—I understand why they’re doing it—ratings are huge this time around and it looks like they won’t lose money as they had planned.
Fact is, if you show stuff not in prime time you don’t get the eyeballs. And without eyeballs you don’t have money from ads.
The media really *is* a business, despite sometimes their pretensions. If they don’t make money they go out of business, and they stand to make money if they show stuff in primetime even if it is not live.
For the record, I don’t like that. But when given the choice between 5 million eyeballs and 500,000 eyeballs I suspect they believe their choice is clear.
August 2, 11:22 am | [comment link]
5. dwstroudmd+ wrote:
True ‘nuff, Sarah, but then how do you explain the overwhelming presence of gay folks on shows, sitcoms, specials, and in every programming spot available when they cannot en masse constitute a significant viewership even when all 2-3% tune in to the same program? (Not that they would.) So, there is, I think, a valid complaint against the vapidity of these inter-competitive events “touchy-feely” intermissions.
Someone should correlate water usage in NYC with these soft serve spots. I’m betting there is a demonstrable correlation in flushing with these spots. It would be interesting to see who gets more water usage, though, commercials or vapidity.
August 2, 1:30 pm | [comment link]
6. Mark Baddeley wrote:
Re: 5 Proft motive is not a sufficient motive to explain all their programming decisions, but it does explain this one.
I thin profit is also involved with the over-presence of self-identified homosexuals, as the media believes it has to reflect the values and priorities of the chattering classes in a liberal democracy, and is inclined to do so as it primarily recruits its creators, writers etc from that section of society.
Proft motive doesn’t explain everything but it does explain a lot. Media prefers big ratings to small, and has certain views as to what will generate that in the echo chamber in which they live.
August 2, 5:06 pm | [comment link]
7. Sherri2 wrote:
Is my memory faulty (probably) or didn’t ABC used to show events live then recap highlights in primetime? I know their mini-features included athletes from a variety of nations. I would enjoy watching, but NBC’s approach makes me nuts.
August 3, 7:44 am | [comment link]
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