July 29, 2012

"NBC tape delay coverage is like the airlines..."

"... its interest is in giving you the least satisfactory service you will still come back for."


Carnifex said...

I got bad news for NBC. I can watch what I am interested in on-line, so they are losing this demographic. They didn't have the basketball game on this AM. Instead, they showed womens road race in bicyling. All respect to those gals, but I tune in to watch my boy Ant Davis kick basketball butt and take names.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Like the airlines, NBC doesn't pay their fair share, and that commonality makes bedfellows alike throughout the ages.

edutcher said...

Haven't watched an Olympics since I was stuck watching the '60 winter games in Squaw Valley with a ghastly case of the flu (broke a filling on top of it).

After that the Games hold no fascination, but the Peacock, which used to be as good as anybody technically, has come to no good end since it made a deal the devil, or at least Mr Immelt.

rhhardin said...

I was one of two passengers on an Eastern Airlines L1011 from Newark to Miami in '75.

They upgraded us both to first class so the stewardesses wouldn't have to walk so far.

Probably today they'd have cancelled the flight, and not served steak at all, nor the extra helping.

Michael K said...

At least they carried the British Open live. I could care less about the Olympics. I'd as soon watch a UN debate.

Carnifex said...

Just remember...NBC didn't build that. Someone else made it happen.

(will Zero's campain come after me for not using the whole context?)

Dale Light said...

I haven't watched the Olympics for several cycles now, and nothing I've read or heard makes me think I should have.

tiger said...

All nice to see all the 'I don't watch the Olympics' grouches coming out!

Welcome! Your smugness has been duly noted.

I watch. It's a once-in-4-years event and is very exciting at times, like this morning's women's bicycle race or the American woman who today become the first Olympian to win a medal in five (5!) Olympics with a shooting score of 99 out of 100. Amazing!

My complaints are about the - pardon the expression and slight mis-use of the term - fellating of the women's gymnastics team, men's swim team and women's 'beach' volleyball.

The fawning praise, fake dramatics and non-stop hyping of these teams and events is bile-inducing.

NBC has even 'mic'ed' a gymnast's parents to record their comments as they watch their daughter perform.

Yeah, it's nice when the American teams win but this is truly about accomplishments of ALL the participants.

As for the tape delay? Meh.

I'm just irked that you need a cable provider to access the on-line live streaming of all the events; if they were going to put it on-line then PUT IT ON-LINE, not everyone - starting with me! - has or wants cable.

Bender said...

The fawning praise, fake dramatics and non-stop hyping of these teams and events is bile-inducing

Why do you think that so many of us stopped watching??

The question isn't why we are so "smug," the question is why you continue to eat up all of that crap knowing that is it bile-inducing?

MMASRP63 said...

[This comment is split into two parts because there's a 4096-character limit on comments here. Apparently Prof. Althouse doesn't want us submitting essays. ;-P]

Until this year, NBC covered the most important tennis matches at Wimbledon (ESPN covered the early rounds). I'm sure that NBC's original TV coverage of the tournament was ground-breaking, but then the network continued to bring a 20th century attitude to its coverage well into the 21st century. For example, only the final Saturday and Sunday of the tournament usually had live coverage in all time zones. Important matches in the Round of 16 and the Quarterfinals would be subject to tape delay. I don't know how bad it was on the East Coast, but out in California we were subject to a three-hour delay for the fucking Today show, which is apparently more important than the world's most prestigious tennis tournament. Worse, when coverage was shared with ESPN, the contract was written for the East Coast, with coverage smoothly transitioning from NBC's broadcast window to ESPN's. In the West, the first three hours of ESPN's coverage would be lost due to a contractual embargo forcing viewers to watch NBC's post-Today show taped lameness. To quote John McEnroe, "You cannot be serious!"

The bottom line is this: NBC believes it is the 20th century. The network acts like our only choices are to watch CBS or ABC instead of it. Perhaps that's too harsh in some ways; NBC might be stuck in the 1990s rather than the 1970s. It might have adapted to the existence of cable, but it certainly hasn't adapted to the age of the DVR and the Internet, which makes tape-delayed coverage ridiculously redundant.

This year, ESPN won all the Wimbledon broadcast rights. It may have outbid NBC; I'm not sure on this point. News coverage of the deal indicated that the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (heh) had an interest in increased live coverage of The Championships, so it's possible that ESPN's bid trumped NBC's on this basis.

MMASRP63 said...

[Part 2 of 2]

So, let's contrast how ESPN covered the most recent Wimbledon with NBC's pathetic attempts to ignore the future. All coverage on ESPN was live. The early rounds were shown on ESPN2. Wimbledon has the best second Monday in all of tennis since the tournament schedules no matches on the middle Sunday; every single men's and women's singles Round of 16 match is scheduled for that Monday. What did ESPN do for this amazing day, and in fact, for the entire second week of the tournament? Simultaneous live coverage on ESPN and ESPN2! ESPN showed continuous live coverage of Centre Court, while ESPN2 switched between the other show courts. It was amazing. With a dual-tuner DVR, it was possible to catch every single match of importance.

In addition, ESPN has an online presence. I didn't partake in any of it, so I can't provide a review, but my understanding is that every show court had live streaming coverage on ESPN3. Also, most of the TV commentators would use the ESPN web site and Twitter to interact with fans watching live. I don't know if this Internet coverage of the tournament was any good, but I do know that ESPN made an attempt. To sum up: ESPN brought Wimbledon coverage into the 21st century, with a schedule perfectly suited to the age of the DVR and a set up that at the very least acknowledged the age of the Internet.

NBC always seems to outbid everyone else for TV coverage of the Olympics (I think the exception was the Winter Olympics on CBS in the 1990s; other extant exceptions would be before my time). I believe NBC's current contract lasts through 2020. I don't know why NBC bids so much, as most analysts have concluded that the network loses money overall on its Olympics coverage. It appears that the network has made a decision that the Olympics are so important to its brand image that it must win the TV rights at any cost. However, that brand image is increasingly being tarnished by the network's pretense that we are not, in fact, currently living in the 21st century. Also, it remains to be seen if the network's new owners (Comcast) will be willing to spend as exorbitantly to keep the broadcast rights. In any case, the purpose of my comparison with Wimbledon above was to support my hope that the next time US broadcast rights to the Olympics are up for grabs, ABC/ESPN puts in the winning bid. ESPN has demonstrated to me that, unlike NBC, it knows how to organize a sports broadcast for the 21st century. I believe that the IOC cares only about money, not live coverage, and lacking that trump card ABC/ESPN might not be able to win, allowing NBC to continue to feed us crap. Still, I can always hope for change.

Penny said...

Why would you care that NBC doesn't meet your needs, MM, as long as ESPN is?

Oh, darn! Is it those extra cable fees?

Astro said...

I watched the opening ceremonies via my own 'tape delay'. I recorded it on my DVR. I was able to zip past the commercials, the atrocious parts where hundreds of children sang in praise of socialism, the march-in of most of the athletes, the depressingly lame Paul McCartney part, and most of the insipid commentary by NBC's hosts.
Which means I got to see the semi-entertaining bit with the Queen and Daniel Craig, the actually entertaining bit with the hilarious Mr. Bean, and the torch ceremony where I was supremely disappointed to see that David Tennant (Dr. Who) did not even briefly carry the torch in the stadium.

MMASRP63 said...

Penny, I'm not sure you understood my point. We are discussing exclusive broadcast rights. This year, Wimbledon was only on ESPN, and I was pleased. In past years, coverage has been split between NBC and ESPN, but with the former getting the important matches and the latter only the early rounds. This meant I was stuck with NBC's inferior coverage and ESPN was contractually unable to provide a superior alternative. So NBC didn't meet my needs and ESPN couldn't.

If ABC/ESPN win the rights to the Olympics at some point in the future, it is likely that there will be no coverage at all on NBC. My argument is that this situation is likely to be far better than what we have now. My supporting evidence is what happened when Wimbledon coverage made the switch.


Penny said...

Changing course...

Reading this reminds me of the downside of the instant feedback of today's social media.

First off, it's just human nature that we feel more inclined to share our negative views than our positive views. If you doubt that, think back to the last time you corresponded with a company regarding their service. Was it positive or negative?

See what I mean!

Secondly, asking people for feedback raises expectations, and generally to some level that isn't likely to be met.

Now I get REALLY pissed off!

Fortunately for business though, there's always that silver lining. This is precisely how you will get your best ideas for improvement, not to mention new product or service opportunities.

That pesky feedback loop! Makes our day to day lives miserable, and ensures our long term success.

Penny said...

MM, I understood your clarification in the first paragraph. The second, not so much. Unless ABC and ESPN are the same company? If so? That's cool, but you have to admit there's nothing wrong with a little competition. Right?

It should help to keep cable fees and premium cable fees lower for their customers.

MMASRP63 said...

Penny, thanks.

Yes, ABC owns ESPN. I apologize for not making that clear in my previous posts.

MadisonMan said...

I like watching the swimming with my swimmer son. I don't care if it's on tape delay or not.

I wonder if Ryan Lochte is a little less full of himself after the 4x100.

Penny said...

No problem, MM.

Not a sports fan at all! In fact, I wondered there for a while why the heck I was even getting into this discussion. lol

Sounds like we might be bookends.

No need for sports coverage on my part, and you have a high need for very specific coverage.

You think NBC sucks, and I think, heh? *shrug*

All in all, I think it's pretty amazing how well businesses do with a shit load of diametrically opposed opinions.

FleetUSA said...

the NBC coverage is a mess. I would prefer real time coverage of the big events and then run highlights at 8 pm on one channel.

Craig said...

I didn't see the opening ceremony. Was Diana Rigg in it? You can't really appreciate Blackadder without a degree in English Lit. Mr. Bean appeals to kindergarteners.

Jay said...


NBC’s #1 TV market yesterday was Milwaukee.

The ratings for this Olympics are up over 2008.

Joe said...

I started watching rowing, because that was on. The race ended, the commercials started. They were longer than the race. It simply reminded me that the Olympics on TV are commercials and talking heads with occasional breaks for sports.

I went back to Netflix.

heyboom said...

As an airline pilot who absolutely loves my job can I just say that I apologize for the bad reputation of my chosen industry? Having said that, may I also plead for you not to paint all of us with one broad stroke? There are many of us who do try and provide the best service we possibly can. We want you to come back because we like you, we really do! Remember that when you guys are delayed on the tarmac, so are we. It really screws up our day, too.

P.S. rhhardin, you got upgraded to first class, and you still found something to complain about? (Just a gentle rib, my friend).

Christy said...

I watch (sports mad family) and am totally angry with Brian Williams for spoiling the 1st Michael Phelps loss on the news before NBC broadcast the race. I noticed last night he put in spoiler alerts. I'll give them this, I haven't watched the national news broadcasts for years, but have now that the TV is generally tuned to NBC for the Olympics. I won't continue.