February 22, 2010
Seeing as how Winter Olympics broadcaster NBC has found new and inventive ways of angering hockey fans with its coverage or lack thereof, Puck Daddy introduces a new mini-feature: Tales of NBC Angst. Email us with your scheduling nightmares, announcer gaffes, missed goals, or general annoyance. Hit us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.
Team USA's upset of Canada was the second-highest-rated hockey game in American television history since the Miracle on Ice and nearly beat the MSNBC ratings record for Obama's 2008 election victory. That's the good news.
The bad news, despite our Fourth-Place Medal colleague Chris Chase's valentine to the Peacock, is that NBC's decisions and coverage are still outraging hockey fans across the nation, as anyone who watched the game in beautiful standard definition Sunday night will tell you. From HD Report:
NBC gave viewers a massive fail. By all accounts, if your cable or satellite provider didn't carry MSNBC in HD (and many do not), then even if you were able to see the game you were treated to standard definition without fine detail and stunning color that one expects when they've spent their hard-earned bucks on an HD TV and a cable fee.
Indeed. But the television headaches weren't restricted to High-Def. Witness the West Coast angst of Puck Buddy Pat D.:
So living in California, we have to deal with all of the Olympics being delayed 3 hours. With Twitter and the Internet I've seen almost every win shown during the day. But today was hockey. Live hockey. The Russians start play at noon and were in the same time zone as Vancouver, so it should start at 12; but NBC decided to play it at 3 p.m. Fine.
So at 4:30 p.m., during the 2nd period intermission of the Russian game, we turned the other TV to MSNBC for the USA/Canada game, and the first thing they show is all of the highlights and final score for the Russian game! Where is the logic in that?! Worst network ever. Conan was lucky to be let go.
Coming up, NBC reveals it has no idea when to place commercials during hockey games; the Peacock screws up nearly everything on a highlight; and a long and sad tale of a man being emasculated at a local bar ... thanks to curling.
First, here's Puck Buddy eurydice_krg with why the online viewing experience might make you pass out:
My cable decides to go out on me earlier today, but at least I was consoled by the fact that I could watch the much anticipated Canada/USA game from the feed on NBCOlympics.com. Great, right? NO! I understand the need to show commercials, but must you do it DURING LIVE ACTION!
Canada is down in the third, Crosby breaks into the USA zone, gets off a blistering shot and ... does Miller make the save? I have no idea because SUDDENLY I'm watching a commercial about [expletive] fat people that have OD'd on Nyquil. "WHAT THE HELL?!?" I yell to no one as I am alone in my apartment. When the commercial finally ends, the game is back on and Sid is in the penalty box after apparently high sticking Brooks Orpik(notes). I guess Miller made the save after all because the score had not changed.
This was clearly the most flagrant violation of the game, but the people with their fingers on the button were high strung the whole game. Any stoppage in action and we would immediately jump to a commercial, even after an offside call; because as we all know, there is always time for a commercial between on offside call and the drop of the puck, right?
Seriously, have these people ever watched a hockey game in their lives? Not only were we subjected to these impromptu commercial breaks, but we were forced to watch the same three commercials over and over and over and over ... well, you get the idea.
The idea of advertising is to get people interested in your product, not so [ticked] off that they would rather die of the common cold than use Nyquil EVER AGAIN!
Chicken soup works just as well, we hear. With several whiskey chasers.
Reader Stephen R. politely requests that NBC please do its best to get minor details correct:
This was from the primetime broadcast on February 18th. Bob Costas was talking about the Canada-Switzerland game a few hours into the program and mentioned that Crosby had the game-winning goal in the shootout. NBC then cut to a clip from the shootout during which Costas remarked, "There it is, Sidney Crosby(notes) with the game-winning goal for Canada" or something along those lines, but what he said wasn't important, who he was talking about was. The clip that they showed wasn't Crosby's goal but instead Brodeur's save to end the game. You know NBC's hockey coverage is third-rate when their primetime anchor gets the players, teams, and situation confused all at the same time.
Finally, a hockey fan called cc, living in Brooklyn, offers a sad tale of pub emasculation because of NBC's curling schedule decisions vs. hockey:
So I grew up in Vancouver to parents from New York, and moved to Brooklyn at 18. Needless to say, as a normal male in the 'Couve, I played hockey seriously and followed the sport religiously – though with loyalties divided between the Canucks and Rangers, the USA and Canada. Thankfully, I was in Brooklyn – the winning side – in both '94 and '96, which cemented my alliances, but didn't curb my interest in Canadian hockey or Vancouver.
Like many in Brooklyn, I don't have cable, and go to the local bar to watch my sports. And for me the local bar is a small joint on a side street with a museum-quality collection of Italian-Americans in track suits watching the Off Track Betting Channel. For 20 years I've been going in there and asking them to put the hockey game on, and for 20 years the bartender has reluctantly agreed. The guys in the track suits have never really complained – even sometimes, when there's a good fight or a big hit, paying attention and saying stuff like "Tough sport. I should get my kid playing this. Do the little [expletive] some good."
And for 20 years they've called me "that kid from Canada that watches all the hockey." Which is fine with me.
Tuesday, I go in after work, and ask if they could switch to the Canada-Norway game. No big deal. Except that it isn't actually the Canada-Norway game. It's Japan-U.S. in eomen's curling. And after about twenty minutes, the comments start, beginning with the predictable "What the [heck] are we watching," and including "I'm watching [hecking] shuffleboard on TV, for Christ's sake," and the classic "It's like chess on ice (mimicking announcer). And just fun to watch."
Finally, the curling ends, the guys in the track suits stop caring, and I get to watch the last two periods of my game in peace.
Wednesday, of course, basically the same thing happens, though this time it's men's curling. And this time, the comments are a little more pointed. And what we are waiting for is Germany-Sweden, which is more suspicious, being more European. "We going to have to watch this [poop] every time some kid from Canada walks in the bar?" And no matter how much I try to explain I'm waiting to watch the hockey game, the last 20 years matter not a whit. I'm now the guy from Canada that comes in to a bar in South Brooklyn and wants to watch curling. Which isn't really fine with me.
Thursday, I'm thinking no way they would do the curling delay thing again. But just in case, I make sure I've got my Yankees hat on (I know, it's Brooklyn, but for some reason the Mets just never took in my particular neighborhood), and, more importantly, my girlfriend is with me, and she grew up in Brooklyn and talks like a cast member from "Welcome Back Kotter." So I must be, you know, authentic.
Naturally, when I walk in, there are snickers. "Change it to curling," somebody shouts. Snickers turn to howls when, instead of the Canada- Switzerland game, we get Denmark-U.S. in women's curling. "Dream date for you, baby. Curling and a bucket of Budweiser," one guy says to my girlfriend. When I make a show of protesting that the hockey game is supposed to be on, another guy comes up with the pretty-funny-if-you-get-it "and you didn't come here to hunt, either, right."
It's all good-natured, but it's never quite innocent when you get these guys' attention. The only silver lining is that these guys haven't decided curling is kind of like bocce, and needs to be watched.
Anyway, it's Friday, and I'm not at the bar. And you, NBC, have basically made 20 years of peaceful, neighborly hockey watching into something that just isn't completely fun. Thanks, [jerks].
Greatest hockey/curling/drinking/embarrassment story we've heard this week.