EDITORIAL: The Olympics you deserve

It just doesn’t seem like such a big thing. Back in 2012, we gave low marks to NBC’s Olympics coverage. 2012 was the first Olympics to take place since most people started streaming video. Before then, average internet speeds were too low to support that. We had high hopes for NBC’s tablet apps, and its multi-channel and on-demand coverage. This was going to be the biggest event ever for Olympics fans, and the truth is that NBC just didn’t come through.

Then a funny thing happened: no one cared. The Games got their highest ratings since 1976, and a generation of bloggers (myself included) were instantly silenced as the obvious business case for NBC’s limited, time-delayed coverage became clear. The Olympic Games may someday be broadcast or streamed in their entirety, live, but it wasn’t likely to happen on NBC’s watch.

So it was with a heads-down resignation that I settled in to watch the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night, knowing that Matt and Meredith would be talking over much of the music and that countries whose delegations preceded and followed the United States’ would be given only the briefest mention in favor of expanded coverage of the US team.

This year’s coverage is sadly less impressive than 2012’s, with fewer broadcast channels participating and less interesting coverage at nbcolympics.com. And yet if we are unimpressed we only have ourselves to blame. This is the Olympics we deserve, the one we told NBC we wanted. We want a lot of commentary and coverage that focuses on Americans as opposed to other countries’ teams. We want Figure Skating at night, right on schedule. And if you don’t want those things, it seems NBC doesn’t think you matter.

The Olympics will be wildly successful again this year, regardless of what this bitter blogger or any other one thinks, partially because the other broadcast networks have already laid down and stopped new programming for the next several weeks. There won’t be much else on prime time unless you’re addicted to reruns. If you’re not looking for Figure Skating, plan on spending a lot of time with Netflix and Hulu.