Rio 2016 Olympics: NBC Took Advantage Viewers

Theres no TV event quite so massaged as the Olympics on NBC. Sure, televised NFL football (and particularly the Super Bowl) comes with plenty of bells and whistles, but games generally come over the air live and with a focus, while the game is on, on the actual gameplay. NBCs contract for the Olympics is a longstanding one and currently runs through 2032, so anyone whos not used to the way they broadcast by now should get accustomed to weird delays, chopped-together footage in primetime, and a fundamental lack of context throughout. Most cycles, the network has a fairly good case for tape-delaying the opening ceremony and various key events, as theyre airing at times deeply inconvenient to U.S. viewers. But with Rio only one hour ahead of the U.S. eastern seaboard, there was no real reason this time that Americans with internet access could find out about various gymnastics triumphs many hours before footage was available.   Get The Brief. Sign up to receive the top stories you need to know right now.

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iption and begin receiving our newsletters. If you don't get the confirmation within 10 minutes, please check your spam folder. Of course, many people dont follow the news online. To them, Simone Biless high-flying success was unspoiled when it aired hours after the fact. But its not spoilers that make the less-than-live Olympics dispiriting. Its the way the footage is cut together, with the hours at NBCs disposal apparently used to convert a global spor

ting event into a narrative about American dominance.  2020第64期老版跑狗图 

Yes, the U.S. is currently leading the medal count to a degree that focus on

our squad w

ould be merited regardless. And a little national pride (or more than a little!) is understandable and great. But the obsessive focus on America is a state of mind that refuses to allow meaningful information to penetrate. For instance, on Thursdays primetime broadcast, we learned about American runner Kate Graces mothers line of workout videos and got a lengthy cutaway to said videos. An American who wasnt even in the race got vastly more promotion t

han any of the non-American athletes. What does it mean to be the bestas in the case of champion swimmer Michael Phelps, whose life story has been plumbed far past the point of meaningwhen your competitors are, in the main, faceless obstacles to overcome? The opening ceremony hosts apropos-of-nothing rambling about Hamilton and ignoring massive geopolitical themes in the broadcast set the tone: NBC seems largely disinterested in other countries.

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ed in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles on Sunday, along with his daughter Gianna This is nothing particularly new, but its frustrating all the same. To go all over the world every two years only to learn that Americans are distinctive and, give or take an Usain Bolt, no one else really leaves an impact, is a wasted opportunity. The Olympics were constantly hearing about is one in which the greatest from all over the world come together in a celebration of all the worlds talent. For American viewers, that event can only be a hypothetical. NBCs point-of-view on their coverage seems to be that everything is fine! After all, their tape-delaying footage into prime-time forces viewers to play through each ad. But while its unlikely that any network concerned with making money would ever overhaul the fundamental structure of the day (in the end, were stuck with marquee sports in prime-time, I suspect), its hard to imagine any other network growing quite so addicted to ginning up narrative. The networks Olympic marketing chief calling the games the ultimate reality show and mini-series wrapped into one (and noting they appeal to women viewers, who care more about the journey) indicates that the Olympics are, to their broadcaster, neither news nor sports. Theyre an entertainment product.  Which wastes another great potential upside of the Olympicsthat theyre a fortnights worth of events during which anything could happen. Were NBC not so obsessed with crafting the Olympiad into a story of American greatness, they might not have been caught so flat-footed by the compelling story of Ryan Lochte; Matt Lauer recently raised hackles

outside the U.S. by conveying to Bob Costas Lochtes representation of Brazilian cops as less thorough than American ones. Newsgathering on the fly is obviously incredibly tough, but its easier when some segment of the massive unit of journalists youve brought to Rio are tas

ked with something other than feel-good packages. Theres no room for spontaneityreal joy or real surprisein NBCs broadcast. It evaluates two weeks w

orth of the worlds most elite competition from the point-of-view of someone just looking to get it over with. Contact us at editors@time.com.

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