Time to hand out the medals for NBC’s coverage for the Games of the XXX Summer Olympiad in London. This was a largely successful Olympics for NBC as it outdid its own expectations for ratings, profits and viewership. I’ll do the same as I did back in 2008 for Beijing and 2010 in Vancouver. For those not getting on the medal stand, they will get a horrid Bowl of Haggis. I guess some people in the UK like Haggis, but looking at that recipe, I don’t think I could eat it and I would challenge those who fail to medal here to eat it.
I will do hosts in this segment. I will follow up with play-by-play and analysts in the next installment.
So let’s do the medals for 2012. You may agree, you may not agree. Comment below.
Bob Costas, NBC Primetime – I know, it’s easy to put him in this category, but even if there’s slippage, which there wasn’t, you can’t put him in any other place. Unlike in Beijing where he had live events to handle, London’s primetime was all taped including Costas’ own transitions in and out of events. His interviews mostly went well except when he tried a 1975 World Series Carlton Fisk home run reference on 19 year old gymnast Aly Raisman who had no idea what he was talking about. This year, Bob was more sarcastic and caustic in his comments. Maybe it was the hour he was taping, but overall, Costas was back in his element as host.
Michelle Beadle, NBC Sports Network Daytime — Michelle was an Olympic rookie, but she did a great job on the anchor desk. Quite often, she opened NBC Sports Network’s coverage and sent us right to live events. In addition, her interviews on the set gave us food for thought, especially when women’s 100 meter medalists Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells made news with Beadle criticizing Lolo Jones. Michelle showed her humor during the Olympics and it came across very nicely on the anchor desk. Here’s hoping we’ll see her in Sochi in 2014.
Dan Patrick, NBC Daytime – After appearing for just four days in Vancouver, Dan stayed for the entire duration of the London Games and did a spectacular job. As I previously wrote, Dan could step in for Bob if Costas ever chose to leave the primetime desk. Dan was very good on interviews, had very good chemistry with Al Michaels on the transitions and was very good as a nuts and bolts host. Patrick has firmly established himself as an upper echelon studio host with the 2012 Olympics.
Liam McHugh, NBC Sports Network Late Afternoon – Here’s a guy who has had a busy four month stretch for NBC Sports and he’s going to be busy again in September as he transitions to college football. Once part of The Daily Line on Versus, one of the few people to continue to NBC Sports Network under the Comcast transition, Liam has become one of the best young studio hosts on sports television. He’s gone from the NHL Postseason to hosting the Stanley Cup Final to the Tour de France and then the Olympics. In each case, he made hosting look easy when having to transition from sport-to-sport is hardly that way. Well done, Liam.
Mary Carillo, NBC Late Night – The late night show is perfect for Mary. It’s a mix of events, humor and interviews and Mary was up to the task. Unlike the daytime and primetime shows, Late Night was able to stretch its wings. Plus John McEnroe made a few appearances and it made for some funny moments. Mary gets a well deserved silver.
Al Michaels, NBC Daytime – A much better showing from Vancouver. Al was more relaxed on the set this year as compared to Vancouver where he looked uncomfortable. Perhaps it was having his new BFF Dan Patrick around to loosen thing up, but Al was quite good. He mixed anecdotes, Olympic factoids and one liners where he could. Overall, a good job by Al and he’s on the podium in London.
Willie Geist, NBC Sports Network Midday — I wanted to dislike Willie as his shaky performances in Vancouver didn’t give me much hope for hosting duties, but I have to admit, he showed some humor and some strong interviewing skills in London. He and Michelle Beadle had some funny transitions on the set and they showed some decent chemistry. Willie gets a surprising silver.
Kelly Tilghman, MSNBC Daytime – After a strong start, Kelly faltered a bit like in the second week where she made up countries. I’d like to see Kelly in Sochi and Rio. She’s on the podium. As she was in New York, she was able to speak with several NBC analysts who didn’t make the trip to London. Interviews went well for the most part.
Rob Simmelkjaer, MSNBC Daytime – He’s on the podium.
BOWL OF HAGGIS
Pat O’Brien, Bravo Tennis – There was a time when having Pat O’Brien at your event meant a heavy hitter who could write, quip and conduct interviews. While Pat has been back in sports on Fox Sports Radio after his long stint covering entertainment news, he was amazingly unprepared to host Olympic tennis on Bravo. He made numerous mistakes, conducted awkward interviews and despite being on every day for the first week, he did not improve. Here’s a guy who brought us Rock ‘n Roll Highlights and irreverence to Olympic Late Night in the 1990′s, but instead, gave us nothing in 2012. Sad to see.
Fred Roggin, CNBC Boxing – Fred was based in New York after being a venue host in 2008 and 2010. Fred has not been a fave since his stint hosting boxing in Beijing and curling in Vancouver. He received an #NBCFAIL in 2010 and a bronze in Beijing. NBC gave Fred a studio complete with analysts BJ Flores and Laila Ali. It appeared both Flores and Ali wanted to hit Fred at various points. The studio transitions between Fred in New York and the boxing crew of Bob Papa and Teddy Atlas were awkward at times. Fred gets a Bowl of Haggis. Down it with some warm British beer while you’re at it.
Bela Karolyi, Gymnastics – Was Bela hard to understand at times? Yes. But is he enthusiastic about his sport and does it come across on TV? Yes and yes. Once again, the Bela and Bob Show was entertaining television. His analysis was very biased, but Bela is not a journalist and we know this from the outset. The night his wife came on set to talk with Bob was quite funny as Bob tried to determine if both were going to be in Rio in 2016. And an interview on late night between Mary Carillo, Bela and Nastia Liukin turned out to be The Bela Show. We need more Bela in Rio.
Doc Rivers, Basketball – The Boston Celtics coach was once an analyst for TNT and ESPN and he stepped into the studio on NBC Sports Network/NBC and was fantastic. Doc explained replays and strategy concisely and he even stepped in during the transition between the women’s soccer semifinal and men’s basketball game last week. Liam McHugh asked him as a coach how he would handle the USA and Canada soccer squads after their emotional game and Doc gave great answers. And as the speculation grew for Doc as 2016 Olympic basketball coach, he answered the questions as best as he could. In addition, it was nice to see an NBA on ABC reunion between Doc and former partner, Al Michaels.
Laila Ali, Boxing – Laila did an adept job in analyzing women’s boxing with Fred Roggin (see above). Like her dad, Laila is charismatic and if she ever decided to become an analyst, I’d watch.
BJ Flores, Boxing – The analyst for NBC Sports Network’s boxing coverage was ok. I couldn’t understand him at times, but maybe that was me.
REPORTERS AND CONTRIBUTORS
John McEnroe, NBC Primetime and Late Night – John wanted to go outside his traditional tennis role and stretch his wings. I thought John did great. He filled two roles, one with NBC and another with BBC. McEnroe showed a general interest in the sports he attended whether it was track & field or swimming. I noticed that John’s feature on Usain Bolt ran on both networks over the weekend. And on Saturday, a feature on the proper way to behave was right up his alley.
Jimmy Roberts, NBC Daytime – Jimmy is a masterful writer and can find stories where others cannot. I would have liked to have seen him in primetime, bu we got to see Ryan Seacrest instead (more on him later).
BOWL OF HAGGIS
Ryan Seacrest, All-Around Hack – I know why NBC had him at the Olympics, he was there to draw viewers who don’t normally watch the Olympics. He had primetime segments where he talked with Michael and Debbie Phelps or discussed social media trends. On the Today Show, he interviewed athletes. Throughout, Seacrest showed a general lack of knowledge in sports and sometimes in the people he was interviewing. Then again, Seacrest is not a sportscaster nor does he pretend to be. I’m not a fan of Seacrest and I thought his primetime segments brought the proceedings to a halt. However, during the Closing Ceremony, he kept his talking to a minimum, introducing the musical acts and letting the pictures do the talking. For Sochi and Rio, let’s keep his Olympic appearances to the Today Show and off primetime where he can do the least damage.
Coming tonight, the medals for the play-by-play commentators, analysts and venue reporters.