After watching Monday’s ridiculous coverage of the men’s downhill by NBC, I decided that I would wait a couple of days to write a critical article of the network. One, I thought I would give readers a break from my critiques and two, I thought I might have been too critical, but after seeing what NBC did to both the men’s and women’s downhill, I can no longer be silent.
On Monday when Bode Miller won a surprise bronze, I thought NBC would devote some time to the event as it withheld airing the downhill live in the afternoon. By holding the downhill until primetime, I thought NBC would at least show a good portion of the field. I found an illegal online feed from Eurosport to watch the event live and to see what NBC would cull from the event. Imagine my disappointment to see that the network would show only six skiers in airing 45 minutes of the downhill and that included commercials. If NBC was going to prevent us from seeing it live on TV, the least it could have done was allow us to watch it online on its website, but instead, this is how viewers were treated. I was thoroughly disgusted.
But I wanted to give NBC the benefit of the doubt, hoping that the men’s downhill was aberration. In addition, with one of the glamor athletes NBC had promoted before the Olympics, I thought NBC would devote more time to the women’s downhill. I would be so wrong.
So for today’s women’s downhill, I found an online BBC feed to watch the event and made sure I watched closely to compare to watch would be aired on NBC. And as the women’s downhill appeared on NBC’s primetime coverage, I wrote down the following notes to see how many skiers would appear. This is what I wrote as the downhill progressed:
NBC started at 9:09 p.m.First skier shown, Stacey Cook of USA (with bib #4)Commercial after Cook’s run.After ads, at 9:16 p.m., we see Elisabeth Goergl of Austria (bib #5)Julia Mancuso of USA next #10, skipped four skiers.Next skier after Mancuso fell and caused a delay. Will NBC show it?Commercial at 9:21 p.m. Only three skiers out of ten shown.Dominique Gisin of Switzerland at 9:24 p.m. She’s the skier who fell right after Mancuso.The #13 skier, Daniella Merighetti of Italy next and she fell as well. Now to five skiers.Break at 9:29 p.m.Back at 9:32 p.m.Next skier is Lindsey Vonn wearing bib #16.
NBC inserts extra replays. However, in real time, the next skier was already on course.
Break at 9:37 p.m.Back at 9:39 p.m.Skier #20 Anja Paerson of Sweden was next on air, but NBC did show a replay of Marion Rolland falling down, but that does not count in the skier’s total.Skier #22 Maria Riesch of Germany was next. She’s the 8th and final skier to be shown on NBC tonight.At 9:47, NBC ended coverage.At 9:50 p.m., NBC returned to show interviews.
I could not believe how NBC butchered the coverage. There were 40 skiers in the women’s downhill, but NBC whittled it down to just 8 and that does not give you a feel for the event nor does it allow you see any trends or how the skiers had to deal with the conditions as the day progressed. I’m disappointed in how NBC treats one of the marquee events. But then again, NBC doesn’t care about true sports fans. NBC is looking for the person who doesn’t care when he/she watches the Olympics, the network wants someone who will take its fare hook, line and sinker. With social networking and the internet, the old model of delaying an event doesn’t work anymore.
And I’ll keep harping on this until NBC somehow gets this right. I’m not the only one pissed about NBC’s practices. Frequent Jim Rome Show e-mailer, Joe in Bugaha had the line of the night on Twitter and was sarcastic with NBC.
My good friend, Lisa Horne of Fox Sports.com, wrote an article on NBC’s delays from the West Coast point of view.
I really hope the International Olympic Committee chooses another network in the next round of bidding.