Why Someone Ought To Outbid NBC For The Olympics

I have griped about the Peacock’s amazingly stupid mentality towards tape delaying events during the Beijing Olympics, and this is above and beyond the usual tape-delay frustrations because NBC is not alerting the telecasts in any way to make it clear to viewers West of the Mississippi that none of the content is live. In the wake of Usain Bolt’s record-breaking 200-meter win that none of us will see on television until later tonight (both Awful Announcing and With Leather are hosting video until the copyright police go after it), I am absolutely excited at the thought of ESPN formally bidding with the IOC for the rights, starting with the 2016 Winter Olympics.

In a sports and media world driven by the Internet and up to the minute results, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to have so few of the events by live in one half of the country and not live everywhere else — and, as NBC Universal is wont to do, get bent out of shape when the video leaks.

This leaves affiliate sports directors in the quandary of not publicizing the results of matches due to be aired on their stations AFTER local news goes off the air for the night — for example, if you are covering Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers in men’s volleyball because they happen to be from your market, and you know they’ve advanced to the gold medal match, but the match has not aired — you have no highlights and are even conflicted about reporting whether they’ve won in order not to spoil it for viewers who might be sticking around at 1 A.M.

The problem is that ESPN shouldn’t have a lock on all the important sporting events, but considering that they would actually rotate their cable networks’ schedule to do a lot more live coverage of events across the U.S., the trade-off is worth considering.  It goes without saying that ESPN would produce certain stuff that ABC could air live and probably delay to the Mountain and Pacific time zones, but so much more of the content would be live on the other channels.

Then again, also in NBC’s favor is that their presentation for sporting events (graphics, etc.) is just head and shoulders above other networks. ESPN’s work for ABC always seems kind of cut rate compared to how CBS handles college football and basketball and NBC handles football and the Olympics, and I keep thinking that the Four-Letter would underwhelm in this department.

Would you trade a near-monopoly on live sports to be able to see some actual Olympic content live?

Photo: Reuteurs/Kai Pfaffenbach

If You Are Surprised By This, Raise Your Hand So I Can Laugh At You

Remember that promise China gave the International Olympic Committee about members of the media having the same Internet access they had at prior Olympic Games in Beijing this year? How many of you thought that was actually going to be kept?

Good, because — surprise — not only are there sites (coughcoughAmnestyInternationalcough) that media members can’t access, it turns out that the IOC just copped to striking a deal with the Chinese government to allow them to block those particular sites and some pages. The Wikipedia entry on the Tianamen Square protests being one , and in a more amusing sense, Fire Joe Morgan is another. Apparently, one-party rule frowns on the concept of VORP, as one person is no more valuable than another in Communist countries.

I hate to double link to work I’ve done somewhere else in one day, but this is part and parcel with the debate over whether athletes ought to speak out in this sense: the IOC’s pretense about the ideal of athletic competition is about as flimsy (if not more so) than the NCAA’s use of the “student-athlete” mask for Division I revenue sports.

Jacques Rogge and his organization handed over an Olympic Games to a country with severe human rights violations on its record, horrific levels of air pollution, and limited speech and press rights. They did so with no concern for any promises that China made outside of getting the facilities prepared on time, because this is about money: making it for the IOC through its advertising and TV broadcasting rights fees, and tapping into one of the world’s most populous nations — at a cost of obvious credibility regarding the organization’s own charter.

You can only say that these games will force China to open itself up on so many times before there has to be some proof. This is the latest in a series of less than encouraging developments regarding Beijing and the Olympics; I doubt it will be the last we have when the Games end.

Olympic organisers agree to China blocking ‘sensitive’ Internet sites [Times UK]
Hu Jintao Does Not Care For OPS+ [Rocky Mountain News]
A Journalistic Highlight [Fire Joe Morgan]
Should Olympians Be Compelled To Protest In Beijing? [BallHype]