When it was announced several years ago that the 2010 Winter Olympics would be held in Vancouver, many people in North America — especially those in the Pacific time zone — were relieved. Finally, they’d be able to see the major events live, instead of on the tape delay they’d come to expect from recent Olympics in Europe, Asia and Australia. Alas, NBC has decided, despite having nearly 24-hour coverage spread out over several channels, to irritate millions of viewers by continuing to use tape delay.
Case in point: Wednesday’s finals in the Women’s Downhill. The marquee event, featuring skiing superstars Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso, took place in the early afternoon, Vancouver time. But instead of showing the event live, NBC used their afternoon broadcast to focus on live coverage of cross-country skiing. And over on sister channel USA, they were showing… curling.
To see the Downhill, you’d have to wait until 8pm, even on the West Coast. Which means folks from San Diego to Seattle had to wait an extra three hours to watch an event that occurred in their own time zone.
Making matters worse, if you went to NBColympics.com to check on that night’s schedule, they spoiled the results of the race right there on the homepage. Or heaven forbid you follow @NBCOlympics on Twitter; they’re sending out the results to their list of followers, who are instantly re-Tweeting out, and so on.
Maybe NBC doesn’t want people tuning into their primetime coverage?
“We’re not trying to hide anything,” said Chris McCloskey, NBC’s VP of Sports Communication (huh?) in an interview about the tape delay.
McCloskey added that, while their Web site will be blasting out live results, there will be no live TV coverage of any of the Alpine Skiing events: “Alpine skiing is probably the sexiest sport that we tape… No doubt about it.”
NBC is making it a point of pride that Figure Skating, Freestyle Skiing, Hockey and Curling will all be shown live. “Yet, we still can’t make everybody happy,” McCloskey said. “You can’t please everybody, but we try to serve the greater good.”
The folks at Deadspin have created an entire category dedicated to what they see as NBC’s horrid handling of the Vancouver games.
They even suggest you write to NBC Sports bigwig Dick Ebersole to complain. Of course, that didn’t really work for Conan, so best of luck.
NBC: No apology for delay of game [Boston.com]