This month, NBC is planning to broadcast an astounding 835 hours of coverage from the Vancouver Winter Olympics -- more screentime than the last two Winter Games combined. The network is hoping to recoup the $820 million it paid for rights to the Games by offering extensive live coverage on MSNBC, CNBC and USA Network, and tape-delayed broadcasts on NBC in prime-time. With the opening ceremonies set to commence on Friday, will NBC's saturation strategy pay off? (Watch NBC's Winter Olympics promotional ad)
NBC is gambling people still care: NBC's $820 million gamble "could shape how the Olympics are staged and televised" for many years to come, says Gil Lebreton in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. But keep in mind that the 2006 Winter Olympics were a ratings disaster. NBC's bet will only work if it can get new viewers as excited as the old generation of fans got watching Franz Klammer barrel down the mountain in the 1976 Olympics.
"NBC hoping Winter Olympics still relevant"
The network is sacrificing the Olympic spirit for ratings: NBC is selling out true sports fans, says Rick Kushman in the Sacramento Bee, by treating the Vancouver Winter Olympics like "show business, emphasis on 'business.'" Instead of airing all the big events live on NBC proper, it's using a tape delay to attract casual prime-time viewers. For a glimpse of "what's left of the innocent spirit that draws us to the Olympics," true fans will need to have cable and lots of free time.
"NBC makes West Coast Olympic viewers suffer"
The Olympics are a safe bet. They're gripping: People always complain about Olympic tape delays and all the sappy profiles of the athletes, says Tim Goodman in the San Francisco Chronicle. But after the Vancouver Winter Olympics begin the "gripes" will be forgotten and only the drama will matter -- "an upset, a fall, a miracle." NBC's bet is safe because "the Olympics never, ever fail to entertain."
"Stop griping; Olympics are gripping"