The Olympic Games, the ultimate sporting event. Citius, Altius, Fortius – Faster, Higher, Stronger. The Games are about the athletes, and the people of the world sharing in their attempt at the ultimate in achievements. Or at least that was the original intent of the Olympic Games – to be a global gathering of the world to celebrate peace through athletics. That was the intent. That’s how it started.
Ah, but the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry – and so it’s been with the Olympic Games. As I’ve become convinced through the first week of these Games that they are no longer about the athletes, the competition, or the fans (people of the world). No, these Modern Olympics have been transformed into the world’s biggest “Pay to Play” event – where the needs of the many are outweighed by the finances of the few!
The Modern Olympics are the Alphabet Games – or more precisely the Acronym Games. The Games as sold by the IOC, USOC, BOA, LOCOG, and all the world wide NGB’s. Bought and paid for by NBC, PG, BP, MCD, V, KO, GE, BMW, BT, EDF, PC and a few others. Their contributions not aimed at preserving the Olympic movement, but to increase their own world wide visibility as “Official Sponsors of the Olympic Games” (more on that on another day). All but NBC, who paid their considerable dollars to become the sole source of the Olympics to the American people.
Now, in the business world that’s called a monopoly – the only supplier of a good or service – and as we know from living in a society that has strongly discouraged monopolistic enterprises, monopolies are rarely good for the consumer. You see choice, encourages competition; and competition breeds innovation, stabilizes pricing, and leads to improved services. A big reason why I’ve felt for some time that the Games should award television rights to at least two providers per country. Because, in the case of the televising of the Games, NBC has proven time and time again that their only goal is to improve their bottom line, and providing services to the viewing public is secondary – and why I was opposed to NBC being awarded the contract for these Games, through the 2020 Games.
You see, for decades NBC’s idea of televising the Olympics has been quite simple: highlights from the day’s best activity is culled together and put in a Prime Time Package that is shown to the general public between 8:00 pm and midnight. That package is sold to advertisers at a premium price, knowing that any Americans that want to see what the Olympics actually look like will tune in to see the world’s greatest sports spectacle sometime between 8:00 pm and midnight! No choice of what sports you get. No choice of what rounds or heats. No choice of what athletes you get to see or focus on. Socialist TV at its very best as Big Brother NBC will show you everything they feel you need to see.
But they said that this time would be different. No need to award the Games to someone else, because they, NBC had a new plan. They would use the Internet and their large family of networks to ensure that the people of the United States would have an unprecedented amount of LIVE coverage made available to them. An Olympic viewing experience unlike any other. And so the IOC took their substantial billions of dollars and NBC was once again in the saddle. Too bad that saddle was attached to the same old broken down horse it’s been riding since the 1984 Los Angeles Games!
Before the Games even began “live streaming” became a misnomer as the Opening Ceremonies were excluded from “live streaming”. So no opportunity to see it live in spite of the fact that Twitter and Facebook was blowing up about what was going on. And NBC once again showed that in its vernacular “monopoly” means not just television, but they feel they own the openness of the Internet as well, because you can’t tap into the BBC or CBC, or any other nation’s streams - not with NBC policing IP addresses and blocking access to anything of use from anyone living in the United States. Oh, and that also includes the ubiquitous YouTube where anything posted with U.S. access is blocked/taken down. No people, if you live in the United States you are STUCK with whatever Big Brother NBC “allows” you to see!
But, they’re doing a better job right? Better than ever? Thousands of hours? Uh, well, kinda sorta. I think in most people’s thoughts the term “live streaming” means that the event is streamed live, then ARCHIVED in the event you missed all or part of the stream. That’s how most sites do it – FloTrack, RunnerSpace, et al. That’s what we have come to expect from live streaming. Especially given the huge time difference between London and the United States I think most anticipated that if they were able to get up in the middle of the night great, but if not, getting up at 6:00am would still lead to a two or three hours old archive that would be just as good as “live”.
Well, that works for some events, and not for others, because you see Big Brother NBC is still riding that old 1984 horse and that horse gathers the best videos all day long and then puts them together in a Prime Time Package for televising between 8:00pm and midnight! Anything Big Brother NBC deems potential for Prime Time is not archived, and you will not see it until sometime between 8:00pm and midnight – so it shall be written, so it shall be done! So much for the best access ever for the American public! Television wise these are still the Socialist Games, and Big Brother WILL decide when and what you get to see. It doesn’t matter that their Prime Time Package is history before it’s aired. It doesn’t matter that the rest of the civilized world will have watched the Games and gone to bed long before many of us get to see the opening shots of the Prime Time Show. It doesn’t matter that many third world countries are being provided with ACTUAL live streaming of the Games. We will see what Big Brother wants us to see – no more and no less.
But what about all those channels that they have? Oh they’re using them. There’s a Soccer channel that shows nothing but soccer all the time – every match. And a Basketball channel that shows nothing but basketball – every game. And a Boxing channel. Oh, and that new NBC Sports channel? Well it shows soccer and basketball and boxing too! Oh it shows some other stuff, but the good stuff is on good old NBC, and only the bits and pieces they want you to see with the good stuff held back until Prime Time. That includes qualifying rounds etc. If they’re deemed good enough for Prime Time it’s held back until after the rest of the world has gone to bed!
Frankly, I feel like the Olympics are groceries and NBC is a grocery store that only sells items in predetermined packages – and usually not a package that you would normally buy. Steaks and pork chops are sold in packages of three. Canned goods in a big can paired with a small can. Ground beef is sold in one and five eighth pound packages. They only carry certain brands of goods – only Olympic sponsored brands. Only peanuts in the nut aisle; skim milk in the milk aisle; apples and oranges in the fruit aisle; and they’ve decided they won’t sell vegetables at all! You’d much rather go to a REAL grocery store and select the things you need and want to buy; the brands you prefer, in the amounts that are best for you and your needs, but the NBC store is the only store that’s open for the next two weeks and you’re stuck with what Big Brother NBC has decided is best for you to eat!
The sad thing is, they don’t have to treat us like this. After all they have a MONOPOLY, there is NO competition. They can charge whatever they want for advertising at ANY time of the day and if advertisers want to reach Olympic viewers they HAVE to pay that price. And guess what, anyone that wants to watch the Olympics WILL be watching something owned by NBC – no matter the time of day. And guess what else? The people that have to wait until Prime Time – you know those people that have to go into an office, a store, or some location to work during the day, are still going to have to do that whether NBC is streaming live or not! My point is that their audience for Prime Time ISN”T altered by live streaming. Besides, they’re selling advertising for live streaming anyway! If they think that it siphons off some of the night viewers all they have to do is adjust their online rates to reflect that! Bottom line is that when you have a monopoly and you have NO competition you can do what you want in terms of advertising rates and the advertiser has to pay or not play! And if you REALLY want to maximize the Games making them MORE accessible would create more potential revenue streams than attempting to rely on the old Prime Time horse!
Instead of holding back on Swimming, Gymnastics, and I presume Track and Field, why not create a Core Sports Channel that shows every moment of those sports and charge an advertising premium for it! Surely if you figured out what the “Core Sports” of the Games are and put them on a single channel you would ensure that the majority of Olympic enthusiasts would at some point watch THAT channel and it would have to be worth MORE than the four hours of Prime Time they’re getting paid for now! How about a Niche Sports channel where all of the events in sports like fencing, judo, air rifle, archery and a few others would be – every moment. Set a rate for that. Because let’s face it, watching on the Internet is nice but anyone with a large screen, high definition television is going to want to see the Olympics on their television even if they’ve spent time on the Internet – that’s why they bought them!
People wait four years to see the Olympics, they want as much as they can get as often as they can get it. Four hours a night is a slap in the face to an American public that can watch almost anything else they want, anytime they want. It’s a fail on almost every level from public relations to potential ad revenue. The American people should ban together and boycott a night of Olympic coverage – after all we all already know the results and it’s tape delayed anyway, what’s a few more hours! That may sound a bit extreme, but NBC needs to stop taking it’s monopoly for granted and treat the viewing public with a bit more respect. Because right now NBC’s coverage rates the #NBCFail that has been prevalent on the Internet.
And I can only hope that the track and field coverage will be better than that for swimming and gymnastics, but I’m not going to hold my breath. It would be nice if they at least gave us a channel of our own – like basketball or soccer. But then we are a core sport aren’t we? Time for us to start acting like it.