(Getty Images)As the Olympic cauldron was being lit in London, American viewers of the Opening Ceremony were watching a segment featuring Bob Costas and Tom Brokaw discussing security measures at the Games. While millions on Twitter read about the queen parachuting into Olympic Stadium, NBC stations on the East Coast were showing local news. Most insulting, NBC's Twitter feed was discussing the Opening Ceremony while its network was blacking out viewers.
The peacock network has proudly promoted the fact that the 2012 Olympics will be streamed live in their entirety on the network's website, but chose to hold the Opening Ceremony for tape delay on both television and the Internet. It was a decision that enraged Olympic fans nationwide and sent many seeking illegal feeds of the live BBC broadcast.
NBC responded to the uproar on its Olympic Facebook page while the Ceremony was happening live:
The Opening and Closing Ceremonies, however, are entertainment spectacles. Our award-winning production team will present them on a medium that best demonstrates their grandeur and majesty, and at a time when friends and family are able to gather together to watch, which is in primetime.
If you want to tape delay the Opening Ceremony, fine. NBC pays more than $1 billion to broadcast each Olympics. If this is the best way for the network to make back the money, then who are we to complain? They're not providing a public service, they're in business. And their logic is right: The Opening Ceremony is a television show, not a sporting event.
But don't insult our intelligence with nonsense like the statement above. There's no concern for grandeur or majesty, unless grandeur and majesty are Cockney slang for cash. If prime time was such a sacred part of American culture, NBC wouldn't air "Whitney."
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Once NBC did get on air, the coverage was top-notch. All the camerawork came from an international pool feed, so there was no difference in direction. But NBC had its own graphics during the parade of nations that showed where each country was located on a map, the total population, number of athletes and the name and sport of the flag bearer. There was also a ticker that showed the next four countries to march. Matt Lauer, Bob Costas and Meredith Vieira were also better suited for the sometimes-inane commentary that has to accompany an Opening Ceremony. When discussing North Korea, for instance, a BBC commentator dryly and seriously noted the sporting prowess of Kim Jong-il. Costas did the same, but mocked the ridiculous idea of the late North Korean dictator carding 11 holes-in-one during his first round of golf.
The BBC did have one huge advantage over its American counterparts: No commercials.
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