Friday, August 08, 2008

Delayed reaction

There have been many trees killed over and Internet space devoted to the start of the Olympics -- and I probably could write a long essay here about how funny it is that Americans care about gymnastics, swimming and track for about two weeks every four years -- but let's try an issue that doesn't come up much: delayed television coverage.

There are two parts to this story, and they both fit in to the discussion.

1. While NBC has tried to schedule as many events as possible for its prime-time hours (meaning morning in China), several others are held on tape delay until the 8 o'clock hour arrives.

2. NBC holds absolute rights to the images of the Games. It doesn't allow other outlets to broadcast anything, so you won't see highlights on CBS, ABC, ESPN, etc.

The question before the panel, then, is: Does this take some of the buzz out of the Olympics?

It just might.

While there is plenty of coverage at other times of day on a bunch of other "platforms," NBC would like everyone to sit down at 8 p.m. local time and watch three or four hours of coverage at night, for two weeks. I can't blame it; it has a lot of money invested. And time zones are always going to be a problem when the Games aren't in North America. I just wonder how easy it is for people to do that. People are, as they say, busy.

And if they miss an event, because they have to do something else with their family or whatever, they don't get a chance to make up for it. How many times have you seen David Tyree's catch (off his helmet) for the New York Giants in the Super Bowl from last January? A couple of dozen? It was great live, but it's become folklore now because of repeated viewings.

Can you picture some of the great Olympic moments of the past few years? I really can't. It might be a little more difficult than it used to be, and maybe this is a reason why.

Plus, there are a number of ways to get results these days from Olympic events that aren't live. All you have to do is watch the ESPN ticker, or go on line. We're not used to waiting around. It's tough to wait to see this stuff.

The Olympics are a wonderful event, filled with great storylines. It's easy to ask if there's a better way to present them, though.

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