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Despite great ratings, NBC under fire for Olympic TV coverage, a web round up

By April MacIntyre Feb 16, 2010, 22:32 GMT

Despite great ratings, NBC under fire for Olympic TV coverage, a web round up

Jilleanne Rookard (L) of USA looks to Katrin Mattscherodt (R) of Germany uses an oxygen mask during the Women\'s 3000 m Speed Skating at the Richmond Olympic Oval for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, Vancouver, Canada, 14 February 2010. Richmond Olympic Oval is hosting the speed skating at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics that starts 12 February 2010. EPA/Friso Gentsch

According to the latest stats from Nielsen, Monday's primetime portion of the Vancouver Games on NBC averaged a 7.2 rating/18 share in adults 18-49 and 25.5 million viewers overall.

Variety reports the overall primetime audience for Monday's Olympics coverage matched the combined numbers of ABC, CBS, Fox and CW, and that these numbers  are up about 10% in the demo versus the same night in Torino four years ago, but down 35% from Salt Lake City in 2002.

Fox normally scores high with hit series "House" followed by "24," but last night it hit a season low.

According to Variety, total viewers: NBC, 25.5 million; ABC, 9.6 million; CBS, 8.1 million; Fox, 7.7 million; Univision, 4.0 million; CW, 1.8 million.

Despite all this cheerful ratings news, a wide net was cast over the Web, and many TV writers and bloggers are not dancing a jig for NBC and their mawkish coverage of the games.

Hot Cuppa TV blogger and Tribune syndicated writer Kate O'Hare writes:

"Boy, it's lucky I didn't write this last night. It would have been a rant, full of "SHUT UP!"s directed at almost every NBC Olympic host and commentator (except Dick Button. I would never tell Dick Button to shut up, but I do rather he was IN the skating arena instead of pontificating afterward. But Dick Button is awesome, not least because he used to be part of ABC's Olympic coverage, which was also awesome)."

Slate.com took their pound of flesh too:

"The Olympics are undoubtedly television's sappiest event. Two years ago, Slate developed a tool to determine, once and for all, the exact sap quotient of NBC's sticky, gooey Games coverage. The results of our two-week tally: 722 sappy words, 98 utterances of mom, 97 dreams, and one description of gymnast Shawn Johnson as "like a kid on the best of Christmas mornings."

SBNation.com didn't even sugarcoat their disgust:

"The lack of live coverage across any of NBC's four networks, the decision to show only 38 minutes of the downhill over endless pairs figure skating on Monday night, and the clumsy production bits in between have all been covered here, but Henry Blodget breaks out the flamethrower and burns NBC's failure down to the bare, charred bones of what makes this all so bad for the Peacock:

Do you care that sports fans from coast to coast are furious at you? How do you factor this into your long-term brand-value calculations?   We, personally, hate you for this. It's possible that we're alone, but based on the feedback we've received, we doubt it. That can't be good for the value of the company, can it?  Especially when you make no effort to explain to people like us why you're doing this."

CreativeLoafing.com blogger took to their keyboard to voice displeasure:

"NBC's idea of a tribute to this young man was to start off with a short intro by Matt Lauer and Bob Costas, followed by Brian Williams reporting from the scene. NBC then proceeded to show Kumaritashvil alive at the top of the track, which was spine-chilling, and his death three times in a row, along with a still photo of his dead body with rescue workers working tirelessly to resuscitate an already deceased Kumaritashvil.

NBC went way too far. As a media scholar, I understand the predicament that networks face, particularly with so much competition from the Internet and citizen journalists. Having said that, there is such a thing as news value and news judgment, and I'm not sure what showing this young man's demise over and over added to the experience of viewers -- other than sheer horror. I don't think that NBC should have shown it at all, but would have been more accepting of showing it once, if it were for the sake of transparency and delivering the news to viewers. I thought to myself that everyone working there is clearly asleep at the wheel. Sometimes it should not be about ratings, but about dignity and respect for others."

NWprogressive.org blogged the production and editing was it's biggest sin:

"NBC's biggest sin is that it refuses to offer live coverage of the Games for viewers on the Left Coast, which is all the more outrageous this year considering that the Games are taking place on the Left Coast. In the time that transpires between when an event actually occurs and when NBC broadcasts it here, a Seattle area resident could be across the Canadian border and have found a public place to watch the next event to be broadcast live on Canadian television. "

The Deadspin.com closes out our NBC "fail" coverage:

"Oh well, I thought. It's probably the best they can do for a Monday morning in Vancouver. That must have been all that was happening out there on this particular day. Until I turned over to MSNBC and saw ... downhill medals! Bode Miller got a bronze! Was there any mention of that during the mind-numbing conversation between Brian Williams and Zombie Al Michaels on NBC TV? You bet your ass there wasn't."

 



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