Tape-delayed or not … the Olympics are worth watching

It seems like no matter where you turn on the Internet, there have been continual gripes for the past four days about the tape-delayed coverage of the Olympics.

People are upset because the majority of the big-ticket events – such as swimming, gymnastics, diving and next week’s track and field – aren’t being shown as live events by NBC on television.

London is 5 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone, meaning when prime-time coverage starts on NBC tonight, at 8 here, it’s 1 a.m. in England.

During the 2008 Olympics, NBC opted to show the swimming live, but it was much more feasible since Beijing is 12 hours ahead of eastern time, meaning swimming races could start during the second – or third hour – of coverage and it would be roughly 9 or 10 a.m. in China. That’s slightly different than 5 hours.

Newsflash: There’s absolutely nothing NBC or Olympic officials can do about the time difference.

A second gripe about it is people are upset the media – outside of NBC Sports – is ruining the intrigue because the results are making their way to Twitter as they happen along with all of the major sports sites and news outlet sites.

Newsflash #2: Real-time results and social media, quite simply, are the way of the world.

If you don’t want to see them, avoid the Internet as much as possible. While I know it’s difficult, it can be done.

Having said all that, regardless if you know the results of today’s events prior to sitting down on your couch tonight to watch the coverage or not, there’s no substitute for seeing how it unfolded and the drama that went along with it.

Yes, the surprise factor is important and I concede that, but there’s something to be said for seeing how Michael Phelps was edged out at the wall in the 200 fly or the United States women’s gymnastics’ team anxiously staring at the scoreboard awaiting the final scores to be posted to realize their Olympic dream.

There’s no way to get that on Twitter, Facebook, ESPN.com or whatever your website of choice may be.

Reading 140 characters about the event on Twitter may give you the gist of what happened, but it doesn’t, by any means, tell the whole story. And the stories that surround the Olympics are some of the best part. While the sporting competition is obviously important, the athletes’ stories are equally important.

The 25-35 year old age bracket and below, for the most part, is into social media, but not everyone is into refreshing his or her iPhone every 10 seconds to see if Missy Franklin added to her medal collection or whether or not the diving entered the water perfectly with very little splash.

And to be brutally honest, while we’re confident NBC would love to show events live, Olympic ratings have been off the chart nationally and it’s making a lot of money from sponsors. Thus, if ratings and sponsorships are up, it’s going to be deemed a success.

NBC is in a no-win situation. It could show the sports live during the day, but many Americans would still miss them because they’re working.

Plus, if NBC does that, it can’t control exclusive rights to showing the highlights, meaning ESPN could show all of the highlights on SportsCenter or its other programs. If that happened, there would definitely be no need to watch the prime-time coverage.

Let’s not forget, that NBC has shown many of the team sporting events live during the course of the day, including men’s and women’s basketball, which are big-ticket events.

One area NBC deserves many kudos is for how it’s implemented all of its channels. Only ESPN has more options of channels to utilize than the NBC family of networks. Throw in the fact that all events are available to be watched live online and the amount of coverage being devoted to these Olympic Games is unmatched by any past Games.

NBC boasts some of the greatest sportscasters of all time in guys like Bob Costas and Al Michaels. Folks like Dan Hicks and Tom Hammond are outstanding in sports of swimming and track and field, respectively. Michelle Beadle is a solid addition and Mike Emerick is as talented as it gets in making things exciting (which is important since he’s calling water polo in this Olympics), but its also stretched it at times.

As I said earlier, I like the stories of the Olympics and different angles outside of the sports, but I do not like Ryan Seacrest as the sports commentator presenting the stories. Seacrest would have been okay for the opening and closing ceremonies since they’re more of a pop culture kind of thing, but the guy has no experience in sports broadcasting. He should have been left in Hollywood. As it pertains to the broadcasting of these Olympics, Seacrest is certainly in the bottom three.


  • AS I’VE watched hours and hours of Olympic coverage thus far, I have wondered where exactly NBC went to find a badmitton, white-water rafting, water polo, handball or table tennis analyst? There are many sports in Olympic program that are by no means mainstream, so how do the analysts hired have broadcasting experience?
  • AS I’VE watched some of these sports that you’d never dream of watching if it wasn’t an Olympic year, countless times I’ve found myself wondering how in the world can (Fill in the blank) sport be in the Olympics, but baseball and softball aren’t?

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com or on Twitter @TLSportsSeth