NBC's Olympics Experiment

Friday, August 01, 2008


NBC News has called its Olympic coverage "the most ambitious single media project in history." But the real ambition is in how NBC plans to experiment with Olympics ratings in the hopes of changing the advertising business model on network TV. Grant Robertson of Toronto’s Globe and Mail explains.

Comments [45]

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I saw my first match at Layer Road in 1996 after stupidly telling the mother of this girl I fancied that I was in Colchester for the football, so just dropped by. She drove me at the ground and I had to go in. Thirteen years later, still a fan...despite never living in Colchester! I'll add my name to the list of those who were sorry to see Layer Road go. No wonder home results have been ropey this season - no real atmosphere as yet. Why, oh why, did your football carnival thing not go around last year, to take in the old grounds?! A few memories of the old place to add too...

Oct. 04 2010 11:56 AM
David from Arizona

OMGosh...Why do you feel compelled to add a negative comment on any effort by a team during the Ice Dancing competition? I am very emotionally moved by the effort of each team and than...a female commentator, has to add her great "expertise" as to why I should NOT have been emotionally moved by a performance!?! My response is to call the commentator a "Bitch" and to turn the channel!! I guess your sponsors appreciate the commentary but I sure don't!!! Please! Have your "so-called" experts try and be a part of the audience and not the JUDGE!

Feb. 24 2010 12:49 AM
Ladislav Justin Mica

Props to the entire NBC crew for brainwashing America and making America the leader of the "Stuck-up-- Assholes Party," in the world.

First, Olympics are not even close to what they were back in the day, where the people in the Olympics were average Joe's. They didn't spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on 'special training' since they were two years of age, and they most certainly held their pride inside and humbled themselves, unlike the so called athletes these days who want it to be all about them.

Second, thank you so very much, NBC, for making 85% of your "coverage" on the "Olympics" about a damn love story on all of 'our amazing and spectacular' athletes. Screw every other country out there. It's all about us. I mean we're the power house right?! SHIT that's a complete JOKE!!! America is the most shameful nation out there and I can't even be a supporter of the country I was born in because of the amount of disgrace you portray us to be!

ABC's coverage on the Olympics was legit. They knew how to make coverage on EVERY NATION. And if somebody said they couldn't or there wasn't enough time, I would bet that ABC would do everything they could to get it done, because they knew how to get shit done--NOT just for US, but for everyone.

NBC: Whenever I want to watch the Olympics: the hockey, the skiing, etc. I can't because all you know how to do is bombard us with such bull shit conversations on how OUR athletes feel, and what's going through their mind. NOBODY GIVES A FLYING SQUIRREL!!! You are setting a horrible, example for our young generations: to take pride, to showboat, to have fun, to make everything about OURSELVES. It's a shame NBC, a complete, miserable shame to be an American.

Sincerely Yours,
'A True American'

Feb. 16 2010 04:20 PM
Vi Jones from Whiteville North Carolina

Helloe NBC,
I enjoy many events in the winter olympics. My favorite by far is the pair ice skating. One lasting memory I would love to see replayed is the winning performance of Torvelle & Dean. They were like Romeo & Juliet with true artistry and a love story on the ice! Please try to recapture their performance when they won the gold medal and the heart of this spectator! Happy Valentine's Day to all!!

From the heart,
Vi Jones

Feb. 14 2010 08:34 PM
anni naylor

In spite of prior warning for traumatic clippings of yesterdays luge accident, sensationalism contributed to show the clipping, over and over. I was extremely disappointed in NBC, to be just like other sensation seekers. Yes, it was real, very traumatic, clear to the mouth to mouth resuscitation Are you going to show all injuries in detail? I feel this type of clips should be left for folks to find on their own on line.

Westminster, MD

Feb. 13 2010 10:26 AM
Nate Lawrence

there are to many commercials at the Olympics. They should just have one or two commercials at a time not a whole lot of them. Im a sports guy and i like to watch the Olympics and not the commercials.

Nate lawrence

Dec. 02 2008 05:51 PM
Tonky from Brooklyn NY

Yes. And Craig Hummer and Heather Olson need to SHUT-UP during synchronized swimming. The same goes for events that have a music element. Such poor taste NBC.

Aug. 23 2008 01:47 PM
Kurt, too from New York

"Can we please get a new commentator for Olympic Diving!!!! I finally had to turn the volume down because of "HER"!! As an NCAA Diving All-American I was looking forward to watching the diving events. Not anymore or at the very least with no sound due to Potter. Is it really that hard to comment on the diving? She continues to pick apart every little detail of every dive!! She has taken all the enjoyment out of watching it with her "Arm-Chair" Critical Analysis over every little fault of every dive for every competitor. NBC- Take her off the air!! Thanks for letting me vent.

Sincerely, One Less TV Spectator!!"

Aug. 20 2008 09:02 PM
mark schell from dallas

Could the NBC crew stop with the rumors and innuendos about the chinese gymnasts. If you want to see women in their 20's and 30's that look like He, then go to the southern most province and look at the peasants; they sell fruit. There are women in their 20's that look like He dispersed around China. Chinese look young, for god's sake walk around Shanghai.


Aug. 20 2008 02:19 PM
SD from CA

Can NBC get anymore corny than they have with their coverage? I do agree what we tune in for is sports instead we get syrupy notions of triumphing over odds (almost everyone who is there has had set backs and defeats in their career). This story line is over worked and lifeless. Tim Dagett's self-opinionated coverage of the gymnastics leaves much to be desired. Sure their may be biased judges, or stupid rules which everyone agreed to, or even incompetent judges but Dagett needs to remember that he is not a judge (thankfully). To be treated to his arrogant pronouncements about who should not win, cannot beat another, needs to have more deductions is both distracting and annoying. Please NBC the sports, the actual sports do not craft it to sell to us.

Aug. 20 2008 04:17 AM
weiz from Calfornia

Wow, I find my people here. I really can't take it any more with the NBC coverage.

I started a public email protest here: http://n2.nabble.com/NBC-Olympics-Coverage-Is-Bad-f733736.html

Public email works like an open letter which is always in public. So, they can't ignore what we write to them. Please join me in sending your comments to NBC.

Aug. 19 2008 06:01 PM
Pedro from Denver

I recorded the Men's Steeplechase, but since the American did not qualify for the finals the bumped the event. Seriously? It is not a sports event without an American in it. Judo got no coverage. When i watch online it has more commercials than the TV. You know who won by the link you click on.
Also is it me or are the American gymnasts brave young women, and the Chinese are playful little girls, who were taken from their families and put into "The Chinese Gymnastic Machine"

Aug. 19 2008 05:03 PM
David from new york city

I totally agree with comment #32 from Christopher There are so many prelim qualifying contests in other sports viewers might find interesting, yet we get Misty and Kerry in prime time EVERY night! Okay, we learned early on that they give signals behind their backs, so do we really need those closeups several times per set? If softball was played in bikinis I doubt it would be withdrawn and sure we would be subjected to an overdose of that.

Aug. 18 2008 09:54 PM
christopher from new york city

Bay Watch Olympics. I am tired of it! Is it really about volley ball or is it about watching girls in bikinis? It seems to me, for ratings, the later. Volley ball is over hyped, way too much coverage for the insipid sport it is. There are plenty of games coming into the finals such as men's water polo and soccer that get very little deserved coverage. It seems to me the silver haired executives at NBC have really pushed for this soft porn sport. Prime Time. every night its on. Talk about dirty old men.....hmmmmm. Am I wrong? Than explain, please, why are the male volley ball players clad in shirts and long shorts. Should they not be reflective of their couterpart female players and play in speedos and bare chests? Even the olympic committee knows this is a sport for male ratings. I'm tired of it. They are my games, too.

Aug. 18 2008 09:26 PM
Julien from Massachusetts

Enough of beach volleyball already!! NBC needs to cover a wider variety of events and concentrate less on showing T and A. I tune in and see the same stale coverage over and over.............

Aug. 18 2008 09:14 PM
Too many commercials from Virginia

I don't ever remember having to watch so many commercials for previous Olympic coverage!! I can't even stand to watch it because it's 5 minutes of coverage and 7 minutes of commercials. Terrible!!! I want to watch the games, not buying anything they are selling!

Aug. 17 2008 09:51 PM
Fed Up Watcher from Maryland

Am I the only person out there that cringes at the site of Bob Costas? This guy is overdone and pathetic to watch. Of course, most of this is due to NBC and the STUPID commitment they make to him. It's bad enough that NBC inflicts his persona on us for Sunday Night Football. Now I have to put up with his "gag-me" personality for the next 7 days. I tuned in to watch the Olympics. If I wanted to watch a talk show, I'd tune in to Oprah (not really). The Olympic coverage is a disgrace and I have a DVR, so I can fast forward through most of the content (commercials).

Aug. 17 2008 08:01 PM
Annie from Washington, DC

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm sick of the massive Phelps coverage by NBC. Yes, he's one of the greatest athletes of all times. However....there are many other amazing athletes that have trained their whole life to participate in these Olympics too and it would be wonderful to see some of their swimming races/hear their stories. Less of Phelps, more of everything else!!!!!!!

Aug. 15 2008 05:08 PM
Linda from Washington, DC

I arrive home each night to watch the Olympics on NBC, hoping to see some of the diversity of performances and ethnicities. Instead I see US volleyball, swimming, gymnastics and diving. Then the next night I see US volleyball, swimming, gymnastics and diving...and again and again...I like these sports and admire the US athletes greatly, but can't NBC at least show highlights in the evenings of a few of the rest of the 11,000 athletes and a few of the other 28 sports?

Aug. 14 2008 08:09 PM
Michael from portland

How could Chris Collingsworth insult Lezak's incredible effort by tying it to NBC's poster boy, Phelps? "You know that Michael Phelps couldn't have a chance to win 8 gold medals without your effort." Give me a break, the guy has trained for years to give himself the chance to represent himself and his country, you idiot.

Michael Phelps would be insulted as well.. Dump this old football boy that couldn't make it today, let alone swim 50 meters.

Aug. 14 2008 01:51 AM
cs from US

I agree with the previous posters... it was painfully obvious that in both the Men's AND Women's (or should I say Girl's) gymnastics the Chinese consistently got higher marks for technically less inspired and overall more wobbly performances.

The balance beam in women's was probably the most grotesque example

Aug. 14 2008 01:20 AM
Lola Gayle from Canada

It is 12:26 am on August 14 and I am sitting in bed eagerly watching the games on NBC. To my amasement, I though NBC was covering the Olympics for all nations NOT just the US and China. I thought they would highlight events and teams from around the world. Instead, since the opening ceremonies, NBC coverage ONLY centred on the US and China. If I was from out of space and watching the games for the fist fime I would think the olympics was about China and the US ONLY. I strongly believe that NBC has been very bias in their coverage of the games. SHAME on you for your blatant disregard for other teams/countries competing in the games and not meeting the standard for NBC.

Aug. 14 2008 12:37 AM
Rob Haskell from Holderness, NH

First of all, I commend you for the efforts in showing more coverage than any other Olympics!!

Unfortunately, with so many athletes and various events to be covered, NBC has decided to focus on very few events and athletes in prime time. Granted, I'm not watching the many hours of non-prime time events during the day and late night, but neither are most other people that work during the day. Not to take anything away from the great athletes that are being covered, but how about the hundreds of other athletes and events that don't tend to get network coverage every week of every year?

To me, the Olympics is about competing in the sport that you love, perhaps throughout your life, regardless of the hype, money and endorsement deals that can be made.

In the USA, we have our Baseball, Football, Basketball and the new X Game-type events, all filling up our year. It's generally, the other events, that peak my interest to tune in to the Olympics. It's the fact that athletes qualfed to compete, they're there to win, but win or lose, they do the best that they possbly can. This is the Olympic experieince, especially when you have tens of thousands of athletes young and old that may have had their own dream of competing in the Olympics.

I will always be an Olympic fan, especially for the life stories and many, many events of the Olympics, whether USA Athletes or otherwise.

Thank you for listening, Rob Haskell

Aug. 13 2008 11:20 PM
Kurt from Chicago, Illinois

Can we please get a new commentator for Olympic Diving!!!! I finally had to turn the volume down because of "HER"!! As an NCAA Diving All-American I was looking forward to watching the diving events. Not anymore or at the very least with no sound due to Potter. Is it really that hard to comment on the diving? She continues to pick apart every little detail of every dive!! She has taken all the enjoyment out of watching it with her "Arm-Chair" Critical Analysis over every little fault of every dive for every competitor. NBC- Take her off the air!! Thanks for letting me vent.

Sincerely, One Less TV Spectator!!

Aug. 13 2008 07:18 PM
chris from Clearwater, Florida

I could not believe Kostas interviewing GW! From the Olympics to Meet The Press in a flash. Kostas morps from sports commentator to Walter Cronkite. Boy! did it suck. I was embarrased.

Aug. 12 2008 08:36 PM
Chris from Portland OR

Tim Dagget must envy the Chinese gymnasts. He's done nothing by trash the US Team, and praise the Chinese team, despite the US being in the lead. It's time to get someone new to do the commenting for all future Olympic games. Cancel his contract!!!

Aug. 12 2008 07:54 PM
george from white palins, ny

PS: I care about sports, so did the ancient Greeks who would suspend warfare to compete in the Olympic Games, but in our modern times...

Aug. 12 2008 05:43 PM
george from white palins, ny

Too many commercials? Is ANYBODY surprised? Does anyone think the IOC is non-political? Why do you think China was awarded the Games when we've known for 20 years that their air is heavily polluted? "When we get to the endurance events, if the air quality is poor, the IOC will have to make a decision." Right. The decision has already been made- it's about marketing, marketing, marketing. Welcome to the new millenium, boys and girls.

Aug. 12 2008 05:37 PM
NoBodyCares about Sports from DC

Amen, the USA was much better in Gymnastics than the scores indicated, but as is always the case with any event where there are a panel of judges (Diving, Ice skating, etc..) politics, job security, animosity (toward the USA), taint the results. Thank goodness for sports where first is first, like the men's 4x100 relay, no matter how incredibly close.

Oh, and NBC stinks ! If I add up the overall minutes I bet the commercial time comes close to the actual sport coverage. I don't count all the history and tours of China, Lives of the athletes, Bob's BS, Medal ceremony, stretching... I mean actual action ! They even blocked streaming on the Internet, how much pull does that take ! NBC - Do the right thing and show action, there are many other events beside the contest between Bob and Matt for the biggest cheesiest grin !

Aug. 12 2008 04:06 PM
G Horton from Miami

How can the NBC announcers talk so nice about the Chinese men's gymnastics? The USA team performed much better with a lower score. The first man for China banged the parallel bars and it was ugly but he scored over 16. The second teammate for China stepped up to whobble loosing his balance and failed to stick the dismount but he also scored over 16. All the Americans outperformed the Chinese in this event but got lower scores. Gee wilbur, what do ya think is goin' on???? Why did it take so long to score the Anericans in the highbar? Because the politically correct judges needed extra time to deduct points so China would continue to be in first place. China is good but the USA is much better than the judges have indicated.

Aug. 12 2008 12:08 AM
Mike from CA

Way to many commercials!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Aug. 11 2008 08:29 PM
margoe from Whittier Ca

Why do we need to watch the American team stretch when there are other Olympians competing. I support our team but I want to see the Olympics, which means that I want to see athletes from other countries. Why can't we have T.V. coverage that shows that this country has a broader view of the world? Does NBC believe that Americans will not watch The Games if we don't show Americans 90% of the time? Did they also think that it was necessary for G.W. Bush to talk politics instead of sports? Come on, NBC cover the Olympics, like a journalist.

Aug. 11 2008 12:35 AM
Nelson Kallis from Florida

You can't be serious! Why would anyone want to see George W. Bush interviewed on the Olympics by this so called sports announcer! Why would anyone want to see either one on TV. NBC-YOU FAILED AGAIN and ruined this broadcast talking politics! We should be protesting your station! This is a program of Sports competition, so why not report on it and stop the BS!

Aug. 10 2008 09:21 PM
Gwen Brokaw from Cobb Mt. Ca

To many commericals and to much talk. Just shut up.
Enjoyed the opening ceremonies but again to many commericals. With all the sporting events going on why just the sports no one watches like rowing and vollyball.
I am sure there are other sports going on.

I will not purchase there commerical products and after seeing and hearing so much BS I may just tune out.

Get rid of Costas. Thank God for the mute botton and the remote control.

Cobb Mt. Ca.

Aug. 10 2008 04:26 PM
Gwen from Cobb Mt. Ca

I to agree to many COMMERICALS. Coverage stinks. Who wants to watch rowing, vollyball and badmittin why they don't show woman's basketball, tennis. Opening Ceremonies were great but again to many commerical. Aslo agree to much talking. SHUT THE HELL UP! No more NBC for me.

Cobb Mt, Ca.

Aug. 10 2008 04:01 PM
Deanna from Bend, OR

NBC SUCKS!!!!! I was watching the CBC network in Seattle and wish I had that station in Bend, OR. NBC covers the screen with TOO! much text. Talks too much about NOTHING, not enough about the sport. BORED with USA BS networks. We will ever get the facts about world wide events?

Aug. 10 2008 12:43 AM

I find the program information overlays they have been doing hide too much action that is going on the screen. During a volleyball point the nbc update was so big that it covered the bottom left third of the screen and what happened. It like stock tickers and weather updates, I get it, but I can wait 30 sec.

Aug. 09 2008 10:00 PM
D. Henry from Richmond VA

HOW could NBC break away from the U.S. Olympics Team entering during the opening ceremonies -- for COMMERCIALS!!!! Unbelievable!

Aug. 09 2008 12:12 AM
D. Henry from Richmond VA

HOW could NBC break away from the U.S. Olympics Team entering in the opening ceremonies -- for COMMERCIALS? Unbelievable!!!!

Aug. 09 2008 12:11 AM
ubuime from California

Already NBC's Kostas is "overtalking" the beautiful ceremony. Can't he and Lauer just be quiet? Why not run subtitles with the basic facts. The sound in the stadium is so toned down, you can't get a feel for the enormity of the program. I wish I could hear the ceremony and not Kostas and Lauer. I've already noticed the soccer games are "overcommentated" as well. NBC is too full of itself. This is so NOT about them.

Aug. 08 2008 11:26 PM
John Morris from CT

Just finished watching opening of Olympics thru appearance of US team.
My comment in a few words: too damn many commercials. If that's what NBC will do for the rest of the Olympics, I won't tune in NBC until it's obver.

Aug. 08 2008 11:19 PM
Todd Fairplay from Washington DC

You guys need to leave the damned polictics at home the comentary is BS and arrogant and embarrasing, save your self riteous BS for your coctail parties her in DC. The opening cerimonies are being carried out by real people that deserve the recognition of pulling off an amazing feat. Your commentary is obnoxious and offensive in what is supposed to transend politics. Let it go and respect the effort and the talent.

Aug. 08 2008 09:01 PM
John Ifill from Massachusetts

I watched the opening ceremonies for 5 minutes and then fled. Terrified. It was like the '39 or whatever Berlin ceremonies. This does not bode well for the west. This is NOT about "universal love." It was highly militaristic, intimidating, and scary.

Aug. 08 2008 08:25 PM

NBC News has called its Olympic coverage "the most ambitious single media project in history."

This is the same network that claims to offer unbias reporting of the news. This is the same network that has in the past and will again in November use MSNBC as their election night station.

Aug. 03 2008 03:08 PM

If NBC's Olympic coverage is anything like their previous efforts it is going to be a constant barrage of rah-rah Americanism instead of covering sports, since they probably had focus groups telling them it was what to do.

ABC did it right for years covering the spectacle of sport and not inserting jingoism into the mix at every pause. NBC's jingoistic coverage should provide an interesting contrast to the Red Chinese propaganda fest which will no doubt rival the 1936 Olympiad in Berlin.

Aug. 02 2008 04:34 PM

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