The opening ceremony of the Olympics is something I look forward to every four years, it's a tradition, which is why I'm pissed off at NBC for messing with it. While the rest of the world enjoyed the live broadcast of the Opening Ceremony of the XXX Olympiad, Americans were forced to wait ill 7:30 p.m. in their respective time zones to watch the festivities, which were already over by then. My friends around the world were tweeting the live events while I sat there for hours waiting to watch the taped version. I couldn't even livestream it because NBC blacked it out on their website. It's all about the almighty dollar. NBC, who paid $1.3 billion for exclusive rights (and stated they would lose at least $100 million) decided to broadcast during primetime for revenue purposes, most likely because they needed to appease their sponsors.
The program began at 7:30 but instead of opening ceremony festivities, we were instead treated to boring commentary and interviews featuring Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Bob Costas and Tom Brokaw. For thirty minutes we had to sit through first Costas interviewing Brokaw about security conditions, followed by Seacrest interviewing athletes. Finally around 8 pm EST, the actual program began and we were ultimately subjected to five hours of some of the worst commentary I've ever heard. During the most interesting parts of the first portion of the ceremony I had to listen to Lauer and Vieira run their mouths. It really pissed me off when during the Frankie & June segment which featured some pretty awesome music, I couldn't actually hear the music because they wouldn't shut up.
Prior to the parade of nations, US viewers were robbed of six minutes of an important part of the opening ceremony: the six minute tribute to the 52 people killed in the July 2005 terrorist attacks in London which took place the day after London was selected to host the Olympics. The crowd and the audience worldwide were asked to observe a moment of silence to honor the victims. In the meantime in the taped version, US viewers were subject instead to Ryan Seacrest's rather boring interview with Michael Phelps. NBC reports that the reason they chose not to broadcast it because it's their policy to "shorten for both broadcast constraints and for the sensibilities of the local audience." The network states: "Our program is tailored for the U.S. television audience."
Seriously? Guess I should be thanking NBC for being sensitive to my sensibilities eh? Not!
Anyway, once the parade of nations began, Costas subbed for Vieira and things only got worse. Costas and Lauer inundated us with useless crap and annoying comments that never stopped. Some of their comments about the nations, and their dress, were downright ignorant and insulting. I wanted to mute the sound but then I'd miss out on the crowd and the music. To top that, during the parade of nations, NBC cut to a commercial about once in every five nations and when they resumed, they gave us a fifteen-second rundown of the nations we'd missed entering the stadium. I can't get over the massive numbers of commercials during the five hour spectacle. Every few minutes we were hit with another one and to be honest I don't remember a single one. So much for marketing eh?
Three-quarters of the way through the ceremony I was yelling at my TV and tweeting STFU to NBC. I couldn't take it. What kept me going was a friend promising me that the lighting of the torch (which he'd seen hours earlier!) would be worth sticking around. Of course when the moment of truth came, when the torch was to be lit, we were still bombarded with idiocy from Lauer and Costas.
This experience, which for me has always been amazing and a tradition, was suddenly tarnished. I was pissed. I wasn't the only one either. Americans slammed NBC on both Twitter and Facebook. Interestingly enough, individuals from around the world who had already seen the ceremony live but who also chose to watch the NBC version with commentary tweeted that what they had seen earlier was a far more superior broadcast than that which we watched in the US.
In addition to all of this, NBC is only offering internet livestream of the Olympics to individuals with subscriptions to pay-television service providers. This means a large number of Americans who have access to NBC's network, but not through a cable service provider, cannot watch the Olympics online.
What kind of crap is this?
By the way, if you're hoping to catch the closing ceremony live in the US, don't count on it. NBC is doing a blackout, opting to offer the taped version in the primetime hours. Another major fail.
The Olympics is such an extraordinary event where people from over two hundred nations, from all walks of life, have the opportunity to set aside their nation's differences and participate in peaceful competition and sportsmanship, and it is very sad that our enjoyment of it is tarnished by the need to turn a profit. I know this isn't just limited to NBC, it's all networks. However, NBC didn't have to do it this way, they made the choice and so, I can guarantee you that if they get the contract in 2016, I sure as hell won't be tuning in.