Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No, NBC, this will not compete with your coverage. The Comcast channel will actually show the Olympics.

If you haven't been reading my blogs over the years, you may not be aware that I don't think highly of NBC's Olympics coverage, a collection of pre-recorded touching American moments rather than true coverage of the competitions. To be fair, my criticisms have been aimed at NBC's primary coverage on its over-the-air network, rather than subsidiary coverage on other outlets. So, technically, the squabble between NBC, the I.O.C., and the U.S.O.C. is not germane to NBC's regular coverage.

If you're not familiar with what's going on, here's a summary:

The head of NBC Sports [Dick Ebersol] said...that he broke off talks in April about combining the Olympic channel that it partly owns with the one being planned by the United States Olympic Committee....

The U.S.O.C. chose Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator, as its partner. Comcast will be giving the network broad digital basic distribution.

U.S.O.C. officials said they could not find financial common ground with NBC.

But other parties are involved.

The timing of the U.S.O.C.’s plan was condemned as Richard Carrión, an International Olympic Committee executive board member from Puerto Rico....[T]he I.O.C. issued a statement that further condemned the American committee for acting “unilaterally” by announcing its network “before we had a chance to consider together the ramifications.” The statement continued, “The proposed channel raises complex legal and contractual issues and could have a negative impact on our relationships with other Olympic broadcasters,” including NBC.

Why does the I.O.C. care what NBC thinks? Money.

Ultimately, this is a fight between the influence of NBC, which has poured billions of dollars into televising the Summer and Winter Games, and the U.S.O.C., which wants to build a valuable TV asset but lacks a media infrastructure. In the middle is the I.O.C., which has done business with NBC in the United States almost exclusively since 1992.

But remember how I previously said that this has nothing to do with NBC's regular coverage? Perhaps I'm wrong.

In its plan, the U.S.O.C. is far more focused than NBC on exposing the least-seen sports to viewers.

Perhaps I'm oversimplifying or misinterpreting here, but it sounds like the U.S.O.C. is more dedicated to truly covering the Olympics than either NBC or the I.O.C. I have a sneaking suspicion that if NBC could get tremendous rating numbers by showing Heidi Pratt exercise videos during Olympic coverage, the I.O.C. would applaud the measure because the money would pour in.

Well, maybe they can reach a compromise and put Heidi Pratt on the curling team.
blog comments powered by Disqus