NBC Prepares To Screw West Coast Viewers The Rest Of The Olympics

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I rarely feel bad for West Coasters (given that you get Football so early in your day), but I finally have some sympathy with the coverage that NBC is giving you during these Olympics. Those to the West have been subject to events being listed as "Live" that are certainly not going on at that time and have basically been relegated to watching one of the best Olympic performances on a time delay.

Well yesterday there was a bit of hope in a rumor from Media Bistro that NBC was going to air Michael Phelps' race for a potential eighth gold live across the U.S. Well friendos....that's not happening. Via Sports Business Daily and Yahoo Finance....

SBD: "An NBC Sports spokesperson dismissed a report that that NBC was considering airing Saturday's prime-time Olympic coverage live in all time zones due to U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps potential winning his eighth Gold Medal. The spokesperson called the report, “Absolutely false. There is no chance that this will happen”

Yahoo Finance: "NBC has been airing the swimming events live on a feed for the eastern and central time zones, but offering the same programing three hours later on delay for West-Coast viewers.

"It will not be shown live on the West Coast," said Brian Walker, NBC Olympics spokesman in Beijing. "This is a baseless rumor and I don't know the genesis of it."

"The situation will remain the same as it has for all of our prime-time broadcasts," Walker said. "The reason that we're showing this in the normal prime-time patterns on the West Coast is because this is when the majority of people are available to watch."
So there you have it. No Phelps for you....and for what? A few points in the ratings? This decision is unprecedented for a network to air events live on one side of the Country and not the other. It's amazing how out of touch NBC is with its viewers, and the choice is baffling to say the least, so I completely understand if you're frustrated. Unfortunately for you, it doesn't look like NBC cares.

West Coast TV to stay on delay, even if Phelps gets shot at breaking Spitz's record (Yahoo Finance)
Phelps Race May Get Coast-to-Coast Live Coverage (Media Bistro)

25 Comments:

Go to Hell, west coasters! Enjoy your year-round sunshine! We get Michael Phelps instead!

GMoney said...
Aug 14, 2008, 10:47:00 AM  

"year-round sunshine"? have you *been* to Seattle?

Anonymous said...
Aug 14, 2008, 11:08:00 AM  

Given that nothing live really happens before 9 pm on NBC's prime time coverage here in the Central time zone, it is baffling why they don't just start with the live swimming events at 7 pm in the west. Live coverage of the men's gymnastics wasn't over until 12:30 here last night, which meant they could have had a solid prime time show from 7 to 10:30 last night in the west. But, apparently they think it makes sense to show shit tape delayed and make the west coast stay up stupid late to learn the results (on tv at least).

Hopped Up said...
Aug 14, 2008, 11:19:00 AM  

I found Brian Walker's email address on the NBC website and sent the following letter...

***

Mr. Walker,
I saw your name quoted in an article about not showing Michael Phelps quest for gold live on the West Coast.

As a West Coast viewer who has a full time job, I think it's a shame that NBC can't better accomodate West Coast viewers. I understand the company's rationale that you wish to maximize your prime time ratings, but Phelps' last gold aired well after 11 PM. The Olympics should be a family event, and there aren't a lot of parents who keep their kids up that late either. Should you show the Olympics live at 5 PM Pacific Time? Not necessarily. But we both know what the marquee events are, and that's why you televise them in primetime. Show those events live, and show some of the other stuff tape delayed once those events are over. More production needed? Yes. But you as a company gear up four years for the Olympics... I think it's warranted. I'm sure you're doing decently in ad revenues to afford it.

I know it was not your decision to air the events this way. You are a spokesperson. But please pass this message and the complaints of millions of viewers on the West Coast to the people you are paid to speak for. NBC, like our Olympians, should strive for the best, and have fallen far short.

Brent Lau

Brent said...
Aug 14, 2008, 11:25:00 AM  

Send me his email Brent and I'll add it to the post.

Aug 14, 2008, 11:35:00 AM  

Stop whining you idiots. Seeing something three hours later, oh the humanity! Oh the unmitigated gall of NBC! Oh the horrific way the West Coast is being treated!

Lord, when will these burdens be lifted off of our weary shoulders?

Daniel said...
Aug 14, 2008, 11:38:00 AM  

We in the Eastern time zone with jobs are screwed trying to stay up until 1:00 every night. But I like so much better than reading about it in a newspaper before it appears on TV.

So it makes perfect sense to screw the one time zone that some live events would occur at a decent time.

Anonymous said...
Aug 14, 2008, 12:02:00 PM  

His info is...
Brian Walker
NBC Sports
(212) 644-2014 brian.walker@nbcuni.com

I admit the East Coasters have a valuable point that I get to watch Monday Night Football at 6 PM, and they need to stay up until 1 AM to watch the whole game.

However, I think the one difference is seeing a live broadcast vs. taped. I saw the highlights of Wade and the Redeem Team on this site before it aired here. Sure, I can avoid TV and the internet like the plague, but they (NBC) just don't want to have to edit and move stuff around. For something like the Olympics, I think that's s***.

We see the Today show late too, but I don't give a f*** about that.

Brent said...
Aug 14, 2008, 12:16:00 PM  

The problem is that this isn't the 80s anymore. It's almost impossible to stay away from the results living on the west coast. I tried on Sunday night to stay away from any sports coverage that would give away the relay info and when I logged into my e-mail saw a scroll on Gmail about how Phelps was still on track.

If the roles were reversed and the West Coast was getting it live and the East Coast tape delayed you guys would be singing a different tune.


It's just annoying for everyone involved out here.

But then again people in LA don't care about anything anyway.

rs27 said...
Aug 14, 2008, 12:45:00 PM  

Was anyone else annoyed at NBC showing quarter/semifinals swimming rounds while there was a gymnastic finals going on?

Yeah, I wanna see the swimming too, but I'd rather see the finals of one thing instead of a semis of something else.

Patrick said...
Aug 14, 2008, 12:56:00 PM  

It's not so much that I have to stay up late, but I have to avoid the internet and all news channels (sports news or other) once I know the race has actually happened. What the hell am I supposed to do? Go outside? Talk to my wife? Damn you NBC!!!!

Anonymous said...
Aug 14, 2008, 12:59:00 PM  

I live in Vancouver, which is the Canadian westcoast, and have noticed this bullshit trend.....

Luckily though, CBC and CBC's french affiliate play everything live....and i can just watch repeats on NBC an hour later

Although interestingly enough, last night NBC played a semifinal relay of Michael Phelps live

Anonymous said...
Aug 14, 2008, 1:24:00 PM  

We in Mountain time have it made. From Edmonton to El Paso, we who live within this corridor are consistently treated well in the regard that everything's in prime time for us. So what if no one mentions when programs air in Mountain time. We'll gladly watch our events at a reasonable hour.

Anonymous said...
Aug 14, 2008, 1:37:00 PM  

Daniel, buzz off.



You think most people on a work day/school day are going to wake up at 11:00 PM and watch it taped?

ssreporters said...
Aug 14, 2008, 1:53:00 PM  

@ AA...



What are your thoughts on NBC's Olympic coverage overall?

ssreporters said...
Aug 14, 2008, 1:54:00 PM  

Get real, NBC. Like I'm going to watch something that I can find out on the internet even if I try NOT to find out the result? I don't care enough about the Olympics to watch tape-delayed footage that will be replayed for weeks.

Pablo Goldstein said...
Aug 14, 2008, 3:42:00 PM  

what a damn shame. go to hell nbc and take heroes with you.

i'll catch the updates on espnnews.

-dan

-dan said...
Aug 14, 2008, 3:49:00 PM  

If you can't show it live on NBC, show it live on MSNBC or CNBC. I promise, the nation can live without Olberman for a night. Or a decade.

J. Baughman said...
Aug 14, 2008, 4:22:00 PM  

I bet ratings would be HIGHER if the West Coast got to see events truly live. But you know what I bet the real problem is? The poor affiliates don't wanna let go of their local news, and NBC's too poor to cut up the broadcast to show the taped stuff after the live stuff, and too greedy to let the West Coasters get away with not having to watch the taped stuff.

Morgan Wick said...
Aug 14, 2008, 5:29:00 PM  

Morgan Wick said:

I bet ratings would be HIGHER if the West Coast got to see events truly live. But you know what I bet the real problem is? The poor affiliates don't wanna let go of their local news

AND therein lies the problem, the affiliates are too addicted to the profit of local "newscasts" too much to allow NBC to air the Olympics live to the West Coast, just like the East Coast is getting.
The same thing happened in Salt Lake City in 2002 and it will continue unfortunately in Vancouver.

Aug 14, 2008, 6:50:00 PM  

Bob Costas just said (at 9:50 eastern, 6:50 Western) "You're going to want to stay with us, we've got an action packed three hours ahead of us featuring some of the marquee athletes in swimming and gymnastics and we'll bring it all to you live." And that will be shown out west two hours from now????

So, why the fuck isn't this shown live on the west coast??? Phelps' first race tonight (200 IM) is at 7:45 Western time. And then his semi is at 8:20 pm Western. This is ALL in prime time! I'm in the Central and stay up late, so I don't really give a shit. But then the women's all around gymnastics starts after that (around 8:30-9 pm Western). That's fucking prime time! But they'll show that on three hours delay? God, that's fucking stupid! I just don't see how the "We want to show things in prime time" holds when actually all the good live stuff is AFTER prime time on the east coast and would be in PRIME time on the west coast. To show the end of the women's all around at midnight eastern and then delay it to end at midnight western as well seems absolutely idiotic.

I've read threads here, NYT, sfgate.com, etc. and I'm just flummoxed as to how NBC doesn't say "Well, the money live events (swimming, gymnastics) actually start right around 7 pm Western so let's start it live then." It's absolutely befuddling how they think that showing something at midnight is going to bring higher ratings than showing it at 9 pm.

Hopped Up said...
Aug 14, 2008, 9:59:00 PM  

I have loved that so much has been live and would be pissed to see it delayed. That's been the most annoying thing from the past.
I would like to see more updates of minor sports and less of Shawn Johnson in a grocery store or some Chinese chalk artist. They should cut all of the manly woman's stories.

Anonymous said...
Aug 14, 2008, 10:15:00 PM  

what i dont get is why is nbc acting like theyre offended about this?

Mike Georger said...
Aug 15, 2008, 1:05:00 AM  

Well, many of us in Washington have it better than most people because we get CBC, which is live. They also cover the Olympics like a sporting event rather than a television show.

So we get to watch the events live and then see a replay in HD on NBC. Although I pretty much avoid NBC altogether.

Anonymous said...
Aug 15, 2008, 4:30:00 AM  

The most recent poster made the best comment about the situation that I have seen so far, and I would like to expand on it.

NBC is not treating the Olympics as a series of sports events, but as another entertainment program geared largely toward female audiences. (The evidence of their target audience is the decision to air beach volleyball matches live in ET/CT and not track and field. Why? In part because beach volleyball players wear little clothing. Let's be blunt about it.)

Do you think NFL fans would like it if the Redskins-Giants opening game on September 4 was delayed until 7 p.m. PT or later, although it's more convenient that 4 p.m., especially on a Thursday? And remember how the NBA was "minor league" when the finals were tape-delayed in the late 1970s? So why are the Olympics any different?

NBC could not have gotten away with it in the 1970s or '80s, when there was basically only three or four TV stations in most markets and a few radio stations. Not now. Not with all this media.

Right now, the only way through the "back door" is to live, as some other posters have mentioned, near the Canadian or Mexican borders and get CBC or Televisa. They treat the Olympics as the live sporting events they are.

Oh, by the way, next week it'll get worse for everybody. As mentioned, the track events will be shown on tape delay, by at least 12 to 15 hours depending on where one lives. And don't forget the puff pieces we have to watch first. Good luck.

Desmond said...
Aug 15, 2008, 2:03:00 PM  

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