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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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August 18, 2008 5:17 PM

Monday prime-time: NBC mocks its own late-night viewers

Posted by Ron Judd

Once again, watching NBC so you don't have to -- or so you know when to switch from CBC:

20:50: More cutting wit from Bob Costas

OK, those of you who love to get fired up about the network should stay tuned until the last bit of tonight's prime-time broadcast. Because there, Costas -- and we would not joke about this -- does a little packaged bit, poking fun of the fact that people all across the country are forced to stay up all night to watch NBC's coverage.

Which I guess is sort of funny if you stayed up to watch live coverage that just happened to run late. But a lot less amusing if you stayed up simply because the network spoon-fed you packaged, delayed coverage.

"We hear you, America!" Costas quips, never mentioning the tape-delay issue. He then proceeds to give some faux health tips for American sleep-deprived viewers, courtesy of the network's medical specialist, such as:

-- Stay hydrated.
-- Tell yourself you only need 4 hours sleep.
-- Listen to whatever was on Michael Phelps' iPod.
-- Skip work. "You're never going to see another Olympics like this, anyway."

We can hear the laughter echoing from Denver to Los Angeles.

Can't get any worse than that. Over and out.

20:45:
If you happen to be online and have access to Universal HD channel: Team handball!!
And then table tennis.

20:20:
Al Trautwig quote of the night, on the Nastia Liukin/He Kexin gymnastics judging controversy, after his co-commentators opined that Liukin should have won: "Four of the six judges are from countries that have never produced a single Olympic medalist."

In other words: They're morons. But the last time we checked, the same group was scoring for everybody.

20:15:
We note that the West Coast feed of NBC is now showing the Liu Xiang injury withdrawal: 20 hours after it happened. East Coasters are still watching the finals of women's uneven parallel bars. CBC: Cycling portion of men's triathlon.

19:05:
Bob Costas, Tim Daggett and Bela Karolyi are talking about judging controversies in gymnastics. Uh-oh. It looks like...yep: Bela has just coughed up a lung.

19:00:
CBC, live (apparently) in the DTZ, is showing the start of the men's triathlon. The women's version, yesterday, was carried in great detail by CBC, and was one of the best visual spectacles we've seen from the Games. (For one thing, it showed us a lot of China, outdoors, in the sunshine).

For the second day in a row, nothing on NBC. Nothing. Did they not get the schedule?

19:50:
NBC has just shown the U.S. men's sweep in the 400 hurdles. CBC: The bike portion of the triathlon. It's a good race.

18:45:
It ends. The U.S. wins. Yay. On to gymnastics, women's trampoline.

18:39:
Meanwhile, in the official Beijing protest zone: Silence.

18:30: Do the people of TImbit Nation realize that they're missing the semifinal women's beach volleyball match?

18:20:
Dick Ebersol was right: America is captivated by Misty and Kerri. I certainly feel captivated -- or at least some variation of captivity -- right now.

CBC, live in the DTZ, is showing that 4-year-old Chinese girl on the uneven parallel bars.

18:15:
Oh, no. Heather Cox has just divulged that Misty has a cold. This is what happens when you walk around in your underwear all the time.

18:12:
Actual NBC quote in the background (heard over mower) "They don't seem to care about, 'Is Misty better?,' or, 'Is Kerri better?"

The winner plays for the gold medal. The loser? Who cares?

18:00
It has begun. Beach volleyball. Time to mow the grass.

17:50
NBC has the women's discus, including gold-medal winner Stephanie Brown Trapton of the U.S. It's essentially highlights of the competition. They're calling it the biggest upset of the Games so far, because Trapton finished third at the U.S. trials. Seattle's Aretha Hill finished seventh. It's the first gold medal for the U.S. in this event since 1932. Coming up later, NBC promises: Beach volleyball!

17:37:
OK, we were kidding about the trampoline.

17:32:
NBC: Usain Bolt of Jamaica and Shawn Crawford of the U.S. measure one another in heats of the 200 meters.

17:20:
On NBC, women's hurdles prelims from yesterday.

17:10:
Good evening, DTZ. NBC has led off its nightly East Coast primetime show (you'll get it at 8 p.m. local time) by showing Chinese hurlder Liu Xiang hobbling off the track and out of the Olympics. I think I remember posting that on this blog yesterday morning. Or was it the day before? Can't remember.

CBC, live in the DTZ, is showing gymnastics -- the trampoline -- which we have to admit is sort of cool on TV.

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Posted by bob

5:49 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Chinese women gymnasts protest over the size of Bob Costas, saying that shrimp is underaged.

Tim Dagget, now confirmed to be going to ESL classes. Teachers can't get him to stop saying crazy. Grade school teachers recall that Dagett has a CDD crazy description disability, often confused with Tourette's. With CDD, the commentator is more speechless than Phelps and can only say two phrases "crazy hard" and "crazy weird".

On another note Chinese population is wondering why the the people on the west coast (DTZ per Ron Judd)
are seeing 3 hour taped lip synching that should be live.
NBC, defends itself citing that commentators don't say anything important and Fluff transcends all time zones even the lowly DTZ.

NBC news anchor says if Phelps were a country it would be named Phelps. Important question asked - do you time your music on ipod when you have to take your earbuds out. Thats world news.

Posted by Bruce M.

8:52 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Canada's gets medal number 10 from Simon Whitfield!!

Posted by bob

10:01 AM, Aug 19, 2008

Ron you are so right - held captive by Beach Volleyball not captivated.


One of the health tips::
Skip work. "You're never going to see another Olympics like this, anyway."


I sure as heck hope not. I hope there is some kind of miracle and NBC loses its right to broadcast Olympics in the future. Judges have tallied the points:

Broad coverage of sports on NBC - 0 out of 10
good commentators - only one synchro diving (i think it is Cynthia Potter - if so she should teach the others)
Hours shown on NBC - quantity in the middle of the night does not equal quality - 0 out of 10
Hours of Beach Volleyball coverage - nauseating. - I think they showed the last 108 games Misty ever won. - zzzz

live coverage on west coast - minus 1000 for lying to viewers

Tim Dagget coverage 1 for showing up, 0 for effort.
Elfi Schlegel - 0 worthless chiming in.
Trautweig - 0 (can't be faulted for low intellect)
Bob Costas - a nit - for nitwit.
Cris Collinsworth - Cris this a the olympics, not a soap opera - its being broadcast in the middle of the night not the middle of the day.

All in all, best soap opera - NBC olympic coverage vs Days of our lives - you guessed it.

ADHD award goes to NBC for flipping back and forth between events faster than my remote can flip to the weather channel during beach volleyball.

Note to Gymnastics Commentators - ever heard of good sportsmanship - you are not doing the young viewers any good with your sour grapes broadcasting when the U.S. loses in an event. Take it like the men you aren't.

Posted by Marko

11:05 AM, Aug 19, 2008

Ron, I have greatly enjoyed reading your skewering of NBC and share everybody's frustration with their coverage. But it has always been like this. Ever since ABC and Roone Arledge pioneered the "up close and personal" mode of Olympics coverage (and before that on Wide World of Sports), Olympics television has emphasized story lines, soap operas, etc. over actually televising a sporting event. NBC- with Michael Weisman as producer - in 1988 actually tried to do a more action and news-oriented production, which IMHO was their best ever, but their ratings weren't great. So in 1992 Dick Ebersol - an Arledge protege - went back to the format they do now.

Back in 1996 there was a fascinating New Yorker article that talked about how NBC had done massive viewer research that showed, in effect, that televising the Olympics like a sporting event was a ratings loser. The main difference is that the target audience for the Olympics is women, while for most sports it's men. And women, so the research shows, like stories and gymnastics. And apparently, now, beach volleyball. If I were a woman I'd be offended by the stereotype, but research is research.

And as much as we all hate NBC - the commercials, the manufactured stories, the 13-hour delays - the strategy is working for them. Ratings are high, revenues are great. And they paid the IOC a lot of money for the rights, and that's good enough for them.

I'm in Armenia and watching the Olympics principally on Eurosport (but also get NBC on Armed Forces television). They are the gold standard; track and swimming all live and complete. Fabulous commentators (David Goldstrom is just about the best sports announcer I have ever heard), and no Bob Costas equivalent to be found. A pity you can't get their coverage in the U.S..

I must say I'm a little surprised anyone in Seattle is complaining about NBC; why bother ever changing the channel from CBC?

Posted by Theresa Santucci

11:20 AM, Aug 19, 2008

Hey, waaaiittt a minute! You've got grass to mow?

Recent entries

Aug 19, 08 - 10:19 AM
Another golden moment, in HD

Aug 18, 08 - 05:17 PM
Monday prime-time: NBC mocks its own late-night viewers

Aug 18, 08 - 03:34 PM
CBC once again captures the moment

Aug 18, 08 - 01:41 PM
All Hail NBC, part 43

Aug 18, 08 - 11:22 AM
Kirkland's Reed ousted from cycling medal round

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www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog
www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
www.wcsn.com: News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions.
www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
www.vancouver2010.com: Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site.
www.london2012.com: London 2012 Summer Games site.
www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.

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