Monday, August 11, 2008
I can't tell if this is the worst ever coverage of an Olympics, or if it just seems so bad in contrast to what could have been in this internet broad band world.
Even if we completely forgot that we live in a world where almost everyone has some sort of access to the internet... NBC is doing nothing to take advantage of the breadth and depth of the spectacle that is the Olympics. Think of the hundreds of events taking place daily. The tens of venues. The tens of thousands of athletes. The millions of potential stories. Even if the games had to be told through the linearity of the tube yet again, there have been far better examples. In fact, the only thing about NBC's coverage that gives any hint of the size of a modern summer olympics is the number of regular shows they have canceled. Are the graphics people on strike? Are the sports writers on strike? Did all of the "up close and personal" gonzo reporters retire? Is the instant replay button on the fritz? Can't show a map of the venues between segments? Can't interview a foreign athlete? Can't show a grand schedule of the day's events? Can't show Olympic, World or National records next to the current times or scores?
One of the funniest things about NBC's coverage is the hourly cut-aways to that big 70's living room with all the empty chairs and couches and one guy or gal sitting by themselves at the end of a ridiculously long dolly shot through the vast emptiness of the set. What is that about? The old preacher looking guy they have sitting there dead pan delivering the day's events perfectly completes the "700 Club" feel of the place. Would it be possible to design a less "sports" looking set or find a less sports sounding guy to sit there (and do nothing!)? All this excitement and sports-fever is just about killing me! Is the guy even alive? Surreal.
Oh yah, I almost forgot, we live in the internet age. An age where we are used to getting exactly what we want when we want it. So, for instance, if there are a thousand or so Olympics spectacles each day, why can't we just go on line, punch in a search phrase, and watch exactly what we want and watch it exactly when we want to watch it? And, as many times as we want to watch it? YouTube has written software that automates the entire video publish and delivery system. Even if NBC can't figure out how to do the internet thing themselves, they could just upload the events as segments the way the rest of us do... to YouTube.
And, don't give me that "there is no money in it" crap. If you can insert a 30 second ad into a tv broadcast, you can insert one into a digital video stream. I heard that Google has made a little money on the web through ad sales. What the hell is going on? To bad NBC can't partner with a mega-large technology company (who could show them the digital ropes). What's that? They have? With Microsoft? What kind of crazy backwards-world is this? Nothing makes sense.
If I was an NBC or Microsoft shareholder I would be demanding heads right now. Think of the potential revenues lost! If I was a citizen of the 21st century, I would be wondering why all of this technology we own is making things worse.
I don't read them, but my local Boarders book store has a huge section with thousands of the latest and greatest books on business and marketing. I will bet any one of them would outline at least ten big ways in which NBC and Microsoft have totally blown this exclusive coverage opportunity.
I have an idea, how about we award three coverage contracts instead of just one. If NBC had to compete for our viewer-ship, I would bet things would be substantially different. We used to stand up against monopolies and monopolistic policy. A monopoly derived through open bidding is no less a monopoly. A market is open only to the extent there is choice in the market. Each consumer must have the power to choose at any moment between any of several suppliers. The very notion of a "contract" runs counter to consumer choice.
Come on people, speak up! Demand more! Please don't give up. A 60 inch high definition plasma isn't going to make bad television anything but more obvious. Lets stop purchasing high-resolution screens and start demanding high-relevence content.