Posted by: SWL | February 18, 2014

NBC Coverage of Sochi Olympics Disappointing

I am blessed to work from home, so for the most part, I have been able to arrange my schedule around television coverage of the Winter Olympics. Our small rural cable system does not carry NBC Sports Network, which has live coverage of most events, but that allows me to get some of my work done!

With the Olympics more than half over, I have to say that I am disappointed in NBC’s coverage of the events. We are able to see more coverage on the three NBC networks on our cable system than for previous Olympics, yet I feel like I am seeing less of the action. Some of that may be due to the half-a-day time difference between the US and Sochi, Russia. NBC has taken advantage of that to edit their coverage with surgical precision.

The evening broadcasts especially, are very choppy. For some events (figure skating, bobsleigh, halfpipe, freestyle), the only athletes featured are most (but not all) of the top finishers and any American athletes. On the other hand, the alpine skiing events receive a great deal of time, and athletes qualifying for the finals are shown.

I would understand if time was more limited. But NBC has the ability to broadcast as many hours of coverage as they want. Weekend coverage on their main network could begin at noon instead of 3 pm. And they could cut some of the non-competition stories. I enjoy hearing about the local culture, but virtually all the pieces have been about famous landmarks or institutions in Moscow or St. Petersburg, which are hundreds of miles from the Olympic venues. Tonight there was a story about the 80 cats living in St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum! There have been very few minutes given to life around Sochi. I learned more about the widlife of the area from an Animal Planet show about the region’s Caucasus Mountains.

I like to watch everything except hockey. Considering that footage on all NBC networks except NBCSN is tape delayed, I find it frustrating that they show different sports on different networks at the same time. I have been passing up the fast-paced sports on NBC in the late afternoon for the precise, strategic curling matches on CNBC. Then I get my daily dose of speed during the evening broadcast. But I would prefer to watch everything.

Speaking of speed, what do you think of the new halfpipe skiing event? It looks a bit strange to see skis in the halfpipe instead of snowboards. I did not think the skiers would have as much mobility and flexibility as the snowboarders. That presumption was proven false with moves similar to those seen in the halfpipe snowboard event. The first Olympic gold medal for halfpipe skiing went to a Nevadan, David Wise of Reno.

Unfortunately, Julia Mancuso of Squaw Valley (an hour from Reno) fell in the final runs of the Giant Slalom. And Nate Holland of Truckee, CA (half an hour from Reno) was not able to qualify for the finals in Snowboardcross. That’s a sport where you can’t take your eyes off the action for a second without missing something!

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