NBC's Beijing Olympics Coverage: Thumbs Up Or Thumbs Down?

9 years ago

We're halfway through the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics so it's time to rate NBC's coverage.  First a caveat, I haven't seen every single hour of the coverage, but really, who has? 

My opinion based on the many hours I have watched?  For once, I'll give them a thumb that's almost pointing up.  Some thoughts:

  • I don't get the obsession with beach volleyball.
  • I don't need to see anymore interviews with Michael Phelps.  Don't get me wrong, he was amazing and his Olympic accomplishments were huge, but really, what else is he going to say?
  • I would like to see some post race interviews with non-American medalists.  To feed my own tennis obsession, how about an interview with gold medalist, new No.1 and hottest player on the men's tour, Spain's Rafael Nadal?  Or Russia's gold medalist Elena Dementieva?  Oops! Too late now, they're on their way to New York for the US Open.
  • It was great seeing the swimming and the gymnastics live on the east coast, and having NBC tell me what time in the coverage the events would actually start.
  • It was not so great for my friends on the west coast, not to see the swimming and the gymnastics live.  NBC in their infinite wisdom decided they didn't need to.
  • NBC could have done a better job letting me know where the sports that weren't gymnastics or swimming or beach volleyball were going to air.  I had to hunt to figure out that tennis was airing from 2AM to 12Noon everyday on USA Cable.
  • Congratulations to Barry MacKay and Jimmy Arias for stellar non-stop commentary during the last weekend of tennis.  And kudos to USA Cable for letting us know they were commentating from a studio in New York instead of trying to pretend they were actually in Beijing.
  • Congratulations to NBC on some incredible camera angles like the overhead shot of the balance beam and the wonderful, crystal clear, super slo-mo shots that showed the one hundredth of a second difference between Michael Phelps and second place finisher, Serbian Milorad Cavic in the 100 meter butterfly.
  • More great camera angles covering the women's marathon, won by the oldest woman ever, 38 year old Romanian Constantina Tomescu-Dita.

And though not necessarily NBC's fault, some very embarrassing moments:

  • The fake fireworks during the opening ceremonies.
  • The swapping of the best little girl singer for a kid who was "cuter."
  • The obviously less than 16 year old Chinese gymnasts---talk about chutzpah!  And tell me again why the IOC didn't push that issue past the "their passports say their 16" point?
  • The ridiculously low scores given to Shawn Johnson and Nastia Lukin during the gymnastic all around final.  They came in one and two in spite of what seemed the judges best efforts to keep that from happening.

Other Olympic thoughts around the blogosphere:  Lina at Sister Spot has been chronicling Random Thoughts On The Olympics.  Here's one about the older than fire---when it comes to swimming, that is---Dara Torres:

Don't get me wrong, I love the Dara Torres momentum. She looked great last night and was a real mom out there on the pool deck when she asked officials to hold the start for a fellow swimmer having trouble with her suit. But, hello NBC, there are quite a few mothers on the US Olympic team playing basketball, softball, lifting weights, running track, kayaking. Let's hear about some of the other mothers who may not have the resources for childcare never mind a "team of people" to get
them in top shape and yet there they are competing at the elite level. They are all role models.

Cindy at Home By The Sea took issue with a Serbian swimming official's comments after Cavic's 100 meter butterfly protest was rejected:

The video says Phelps won, but somehow, that's not right, but they're going to graciously agree to follow the rules? What the hell does that mean? If the video and the touch-pad indicate that Phelps won, how is
that not right? Both of them were wrong, but the eye-ball view was
better? And it's no gracious move to accept the facts, no matter how
heartbreaking it might be for your country.

Diary of An Anxious Black Woman was thrilled with last night's Jamaican sweep of the women's 100 meter final.

Now, if only NBC would shed their America-centric coverage of these games and actually show us these competitions LIVE (while pretending that they're doing so when they have the words "Live" in the upper right corner on our TV screen), I'd be even happier (i.e. I would've loved to see the women's 100 meter dash like NOW! instead of waiting till past midnight!).

Cindy at Here To There And Back---no relation to Cindy at Home By The Sea, at least I don't think so---like me, misses ABC and Jim McKay:

I want the laws of nature observed, and I want ABC to take back its sole right to air the Olympics.

I never want to hear that lame-o John Williams Olympics theme ever again. I want the familiar sounds of the Olympics theme as it should be.

I want the summer and winter Olympics in the same calendar year, not this alternating year business.

I want Jim McKay and Chris Economaki, not Bob Costas. (And certainly not Mary Carillo - make her and her poor substitute for Up Close and Personal go away.)

Cindy I'm with you all the way, except for the bit about the John Williams Olympics theme.  I love the John Williams Olympics theme.

With one more week to go, what do you think of NBC's Olympics coverage?


Megan Smith is a BlogHer Contributing Editor covering Television and YouTube and she thinks the Beijing opening ceremonies---despite little girl-gate---were the best she's ever seen.  Her other blogs are Megan's Minute:  quirky commentary around the clock, and Video Runway.  More of her thoughts on the Olympics can be found in her post:  "The Summer Olympics:  Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?"

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