Let’s do some bullet point thoughts on NBCUniversal’s coverage of Days -2 through 0 of the 2012 Olympics. I’ll go backwards starting with coverage of the Opening Ceremony and then the live soccer coverage on Wednesday and Thursday.
- I can start with NBC’s tape delayed coverage of the Opening Ceremony which became a huge issue on social media Friday. And while there were some articles denouncing NBC’s decision (like at Mashable, NESN.com, and the Wall Street Journal) the network countered that putting the Opening Ceremony online was too complex and complicated for audiences to see online because of all of the elements. Well, that’s not putting trust in your audience. For all intents and purposes, NBC is saying the audience is stupid and needs Uncle NBC to explain everything. That’s not right at all.
Anyway, it caused many people to go online and find an illegal pirated BBC feed to watch the Opening Ceremony where viewers were treated to commercial-free coverage. I won’t review BBC’s coverage as I did watch it through a friend’s Slingbox, but I will give a few words on NBC’s coverage on the Opening Ceremony.
While NBC’s pictures of the Opening Ceremony were spectacular, director Bucky Gunts did a stellar job in choosing the right angles to show, the performances by Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera gave the event the feel of the second hour of the Today show. NBC Olympics Executive Producer Jim Bell who is also the Executive Producer of Today tapped Matt and Meredith for the Opening Ceremony to join Bob Costas. While Matt did a good job in 2008 in Beijing with Bob, he and Meredith talked way too much trying to explain Opening Ceremony Director Danny Boyle’s vision. Plus Meredith attempted to sing when the Rolling Stones were played.
I understand NBC’s thinking on the Opening Ceremony, but it didn’t work, and the audience was not served well in this case. Timothy Burke of Deadspin actually found the number of words spoken on BBC and NBC and you can see that there was more talking on NBC.
Now I happen to like Meredith, but unfortunately, she was miscast to co-host the Opening Ceremony and I give NBC a C minus for its handling of the Opening Ceremony. The Opening Ceremony itself gets an A.
- For the coverage of both women’s and men’s soccer on Wednesday and Thursday, the networks of NBCUniversal get higher grades. NBC used the world feed for the games that were split between MSNBC and NBC Sports Network.
I’m quite impressed with Liam McHugh who has had a very busy four month stretch. In May and June, he hosted the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. For most of this month, Liam was all over France hosting the Tour de France, and here is he in London hosting the Olympics. He’s making it look easy, but keeping track of so many different sports is not easy. And to think two years ago, Liam was part of an ensemble show for Versus that was supposed to be a vehicle for Jenn Sterger. The Olympics are a far cry from The Daily Line days on Versus.
Other talent who have done well in the early going are Kelly Tlghman on MSNBC, Michelle Beadle on NBCSN, play-by-play callers Arlo White, JP Dellacamera and Steve Cangialosi. I like analysts Brandi Chastain and Kyle Martino. Drea Avent’s interviews are quite strong.
- I used NBC’s Olympics Live Extra iPad app to watch the soccer on Wednesday and Thursday. On the first day, the app joined MSNBC’s simulcast 14 minutes late and it was the same for the Japan-Canada match. Hopefully, that will be fixed before the action begins for real on Saturday.If you watch the simulcasts on the mobile or tablet, they’re over a minute behind compared to TV. If you can handle that, then you should be fine. But overall, I like the quality of the pictures. I do wish that the app would stream NBC’s coverage in addition of the streams of Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC and NBCSN, but perhaps that could be done for 2014.
Those are my thoughts on the coverage to date.