Long before anyone could get mad at NBC for its glitchy Olympic webcasts, the network was padding out its tape-delayed broadcasts with overlong pre-taped video profiles of various competitors from the U.S. and around the world. But here’s an idea — rather than irritate viewers by interrupting the diving competition for a 10-minute bio of a 16-year-old and then going to commercial, why not just leave these stories to the people who specialize in heartstring-tugging schmatltz: advertisers.
Doing so would cut down on all the filler and allow the Olympics coverage to actually show, ya know, the Olympics. After all, though you might not know it from NBC’s prime time coverage, there are events that don’t involve, swimming, diving, gymnastics, sprinting or basketball.
Also, it would give advertisers and opportunity to engage viewers who enjoy the biographical pieces. Rather than just having your watch being worn by a generic model in a Speedo and swimming cap, you have the chance to attach your brand name to a few minutes of air time that some viewers might actually delay their pee-breaks for. And chances are these spots would be both better produced and more economical in their use of time.
What is really unfortunate is that NBC is failing in its video content where commercials are succeeding with far less time or need. The little meet-the-athlete sidebars feel like hokey commercials with stock footage of scenic beaches or families posing on the playground, while a TD Ameritrade commercial about Jonathan Horton climbing to the ceiling of a department store as a child, or Yelena Isinbayeva learning the pole vault when her dreams of being a gymnast are dashed, are embarrassingly moving mini documentaries about the genesis of greatness.
We’re generally not fans of having every part of a sportscast sponsored (We’re pretty sure baseball announcers can read a batting order without the assistance of Pizza Hut), but this might be the rare case when handing something off to ad agencies would actually benefit viewers who tune in.