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For those of us who may not know, the 2010 Winter Olympics are in their final week up in Vancouver. Have you been watching most of it live?  If you’re watching NBC the answer is most likely a resounding “no”.  This year NBC has implemented a strategy that not only withholds live coverage, but runs many top events on tape delay during prime time for the sole purpose of boosting ratings and increasing ad revenue.  Is it working?  You bet it is.

Last Wednesday (February 17) was a huge day for the Americans, winning a total of six medals in that day’s competitions.  Medalists Shani Davis and Shaun White’s competitions of speed skating and half-pipe snowboarding, respectively, were shown live during prime time, however the night’s biggest story ended up being shown on tape delay.  Earlier that day was the women’s downhill skiing, featuring American Lindsey Vonn.  With a busted shin, her ability to even compete was thrown into question.  Luckily she was able to and landed an impressive gold medal victory in the downhill practically skiing on one leg.  It was arguably the most dramatic competition in this year’s Olympics and, unless you were in Vancouver, no one saw it live.

NBC’s strategy of withholding coverage of Vonn’s victory paid off very well for the network.  It smashed American Idol in that evening’s Nielson TV ratings, the first time that’s been accomplished since 2004, by hauling in 29.4 million total viewers.  News of the downhills results spread quickly before anyone had a chance to see it thanks to today’s technology.  Posted online results, mixed with social networking sites Twitter and Facebook, helped to spread the news quickly.  Because NBC refused to post live coverage of the event on TV or online, those wanting to watch the dramatic event had to do so in prime time.

The big question now is if NBC’s tape delay strategy is ruining the Olympics for many fans.  Many viewers are already objecting due to the fact they cannot see many events live.  For me, watching the Olympics live are what makes them exciting.  It’s the holding your breath, can’t wait wait to see what happens, “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” feeling.  I remember watching Michael Phelps win his seventh gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Beijing two years ago.  His 0.01 second victory over Serbia’s Milorad Cavic in the 100m butterfly swim had everyone in a fit of hysteria.  That is live competition- everyone stops to watch, some holding their breath and others screaming at the television.  I was the latter.  Unfortunately the incredible victory by Lindsey Vonn wasn’t the same.  We all knew she would win.

Is the combination of today’s quick communication technology and NBC’s tape delay strategy about to ruin the thrill of the Olympics?  I understand NBC needs to bring in ad revenue to help pay for Olympic coverage but come on, is it really worth it to anger an entire nation of fans just to boost ratings?  I want to see my curling live just like everyone else wants to.

-Mike

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12 Responses to “I’d Like My Curling Live, Thank You”

  1. Ken Leach says:

    Next week, it is not going to matter one way or another; meanwhile, people are suffering in Haiti. Where are our priorities?

  2. I agree with you. I would like to see more coverage live, as the fun is in watching the competition and waiting for the results just as much as watching the events. If we know who wins before we see it half the fun is gone. I have been watching all the American Curling events live on the USA channel, and I am fascinated with this sport. I hope it catches on. The Olympics are a national event, and should take precedence over ratings.

  3. Chuck says:

    What can you expect from NBC as all they are interested in is the bottom line and the heck with the people. Don’t forget Money and Greed go hand in hand, isn’t that right NBC. I wonder how big of a bonus there top officials get. They talk about the bonuses other executives receive but do not mention what they get. I to have been watching the Curling events and boy are they great and LIVE.

  4. Lynn says:

    There are 2,500 Curling Clubs in Canada, several provincial championships (12), one national (the Briar), one World and many sub-categories such as mens, ladies, mixed, juniors. I’m glad the reader hoped it would ‘catch on’ lol. As usual, our reader doesn’t grasp that there is another world outside the US ~ Lynn.

  5. Gary R. Del Carlo says:

    Three times that I’ve noticed, I’ve gotten the results of the winners of events that we wouldn’t see on NBC until prime time. This angers me. I’ve had this happen in the past from other stations. I remember a heavyweight champion fight that was going to take place on TV that evening on TV. I didn’t know it was going to be a “delayed” broadcast. A sports announcer on another station announced the outcome of that fight before we ever got to see the fight.

    G@ry

  6. Len H says:

    I too watch the Curling games even though I have printed out all the instructions etc. on how to play and score but still have no idea what the stratagy is.I fully enjoy watching it and hope to learn more.
    Anothe beef is that why, when there is acriticle shot ready to be made, do they have to go to a commercial. By the tame they come back to the game another game is started.
    The commefrcial on TV aregettin out of hand. We are lucky to see half of a gamrof game playing.

  7. LOL Lynn – You are so right. I meant that I hope Curling catches on more here in the U.S. We do lead a sheltered life here in the U.S. and think the world revolves around us – hopefully we will learn to expand our horizons. Please forgive me for my tunnel vision.

    Here in the U.S. many don’t pay much attention to the winter sports – at least not as much as the summer events, but they all are exciting to watch. Healthy competition among skilled athletes is exciting – just as much for those of us who don’t compete, and it allows us (at least here in the U.S who do not travel) a chance to see other cultures in a different light.

  8. Lynn says:

    Just as long as you’re not suggesting we are still part of the pony express you’re forgiven lol.

    Why don’t you all come up to visit us sometime; in addition to hosting the Olympics, British Columbia is a stunningly beautiful Province ~ Hugz, Lynn

  9. Lynn says:

    If you are truly interested, try Googling the Canadian Curling Association, they should be able to give you tons of information ~ Regards, Lynn

  10. LOL – not at all. I admire the Canadian people, and am proud you are our neighbors. I haven’t had an opportunity to visit Canada (I have been to the locks in upper Michigan), and I hope to when I get the chance. I’ve heard British Columbia is fabulous! Hopefully money will be a bit looser later this year. I did tell a friend that, if he was interested in starting a new business putting a Curling Club together here in the midwest might be an idea worth exploring. We shall see. I live on the Michigan border, a mile from the Indiana State line and 90 miles from Chicago, Illinois. It would be a perfect spot.

  11. Congratulations to the Canadian curling teams for a fabulous finish! I watched both the men and women play exceptionally well. It was a heartbreak for the women to get a Silver – yet heartbreak isn’t exactly the correct word, since a Silver is nothing to turn your nose at. Well done to all the curler teams!

  12. Ray Le Moine says:

    Hi all.. from Canada… sorry to say this on the late side, but you could have watched it live from CTV.ca. they provided and Olympic site that was live. You may not have got USA games but it would have been live. The big ones were there. bless u all

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