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Stockholm Olympics/The Red Line

August 9, 2012
By Brandon Veale - DMG Sports Editor (bveale@mininggazette.com) , The Daily Mining Gazette

They call it "Stockholm syndrome" when hostages express empathy and positive feelings toward their captors.

Less than two years after ripping the television coverage of the Olympics in a column called "An F for NBC," I'm about to turn state's evidence and explain why I think Bob Costas and Co. are doing a better job than you think they are.

Much of the criticism is based on what I feel is a misguided premise that the Olympic Games are being aired as a public service. NBC paid $2.2 billion for the 2010 Winter Games and the 2012 Summer Games. Thanks to that, they'll be fortunate to break even. But when they attempt to protect that investment? You'd think they'd added the Al-Qaeda Variety Hour to the fall schedule.

Let's start at the end. Everyone hates the primetime show, it appears. The programming has been a little predictable: kick it off with eye candy (beach volleyball players in bikinis for the dudes, divers with six-packs in briefs for the ladies), followed by heaping helpings of swimming or track and as much gymnastics as can be tolerated.

This morning, I heard Phillip Phillips' song "Home" on the radio. It's the one that aired before every gymnastics segment. Just like the girls, I wanted to look at my computer screen very seriously and offer up an empty phrase like "I have the write stuff."

When a newspaper columnist in a small town can crack NBC's programming strategy, it's quite formulaic.

There's just one problem: If you care enough about sports to read my column, the last four hours of television weren't for you.

Basically, we're all like "Mikey" from the Life cereal commercials. Show those sports to Brandon - he'll watch anything. They're right - I will.

Remember, the Summer Olympics is one of only three sporting events that draw a larger female audience than male. So, eye candy, pretty gymnasts and lots of storytelling combined with the big-ticket events like the 100-meter dash and Michael Phelps eating breakfast are what comes on when there are advertising dollars to be made. I'm not saying gymastics or diving is less of a sport, just that it's part of a well-worn system. There's a certain way to bake a cake, and prime rib is not one of the ingredients, even if I like prime rib.

London is five hours ahead of the U.P. I know this because I started doing the conversion in my head by about the first weekend of the Olympics. Therefore, no events other than synchronized nightclubbing are taking place during the American primetime window.

Therefore, some events people want to see are taking place in the U.S. afternoon and being spirited away to the Disney vault until primetime. This bothers a lot of people - I am not one of them.

I made Taco Soup Tuesday. Good recipe. I put all the ingredients together in the slow cooker by noon, and though I would have had perfectly fine soup by 1, I ate dinner at 5.

Say I had company - an important occasion. Would I have them over for dinner at 1? They're probably working and who eats dinner at 1, anyway?

Why not have dinner at 1 for me and then eat again with the company at 5? Just as silly to serve leftovers, right?

Less fun for them, since they're getting leftovers, and less fun for me because I already had this for lunch.

Of course, thanks to the Internet, many would argue that tape delay is a relic of the past. However, live Internet streaming is available (if unreliable in some venues). If you care enough to stream the Olympics on your computer, NBC has made its money off your eyeballs before primetime ever started.

As for the variety, if you have cable, you have a rare privilege - team handball and skeet shooting on live television. Even if you don't, NBC has been airing a minimum of 12 hours daily on free TV (and the afternoon stuff is normally more diverse and more live).

Let's be honest. Complaining about NBC's Olympic coverage is the epitome of a 'first-world problem.'

In four days, it'll all be over and the pining for Sochi in 2014 will begin. Until then, I'll Hang out with my tELevision Pals and make the Most of thE rest of the games like a good little sports editor.

Brandon Veale can be reached at bveale@mininggazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.

 
 

 

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