It didn’t seem possible that it would happen again. It didn’t seem possible that, in the middle of a national holiday, NBC would be so self-serving that it would risk infuriating millions of viewers by tape-delaying one of the most popular events at the Winter Olympics–the Men’s Downhill.
But it’s not only possible. It’s fact.
As of 2:15 ET, the Men’s Downhill is underway in Vancouver, as NBC’s web site, NBCOlympics.com proudly proclaims. But there’s no live coverage. Not on NBC’s web site, and not on NBC’s TV networks, not anywhere NBC controls.
Presumably, because, as usual, NBC wants to maximise its revenue by delaying the event until the most people will watch it: This evening in primetime. The live finals of the figure-skating pairs competition and other events presumably weren’t enough to ensure the massive audience NBC needs to lose less of its shirt on these Games.
So the eager audience who tuned in to watch the Men’s Downhill live, like the eager audience that tuned in to watch the French Open and Wimbledon and other sporting events that NBC buys the rights to so it can ruin, are instead left to curse a network that is now actively preventing them from watching the event until it’s long over and all the drama is gone.
Someday, perhaps, the NBC Sports brass will understand that the world has changed in the past 25 years. Within an hour or two, the name of the winner of the Men’s Downhill will be everywhere–on the radio, on other TV stations, on the Internet, on news sites. Even people who want to play along with NBC’s self-serving little game will have a hard time avoiding the news. Thus, for most of them, the most exciting event at the games will be ruined.
In a few years, thankfully, technology will have advanced to the point where it is pretty much impossible for a network to come between fans and an event, the way NBC is now. In the meantime, however, Americans who don’t want to arrange a proxy server and watch the event on another country’s Internet broadcast instead of their HD TVs, will be forced to wait until they know the winner to watch tonight in NBC’s primetime.
So, once again, on behalf of sports fans everywhere, we have a message for Jeff Zucker, Dick Ebersol, and the rest of the people in charge of NBC Sports:
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