Olympics Without NBC

Minoan Boxers

Minoan Boxers

If you’re in the USA, and want to see how Olympics coverage should be done, consider grabbing this video of the BBC’s coverage of the opening ceremonies in three parts. You’ll need a Bittorrent client like Azureus to download these, and probably also the DivX video codec. The movie files are quite large – about 700 Mb per part – but worth it.

Typically, I hate spectacles like this – they’re usually full of noise and bombast, but signify nothing other than spending. This presentation grabbed me, though – I found it, if not understated, at least stately. The fact that I’m a mythology geek might have something to do with that. It’s the same video feed that NBC used, yet without Katie Couric’s incessant babbling you can actually follow the narrative. (I almost choked when one of the NBC commentators attributed “know thyself,” the dictum of the Oracle, to Socrates.)

I remember in 1980, NBC test broadcast a football game without any announcers. It was the Miami Dolphins vs. the New York Jets. No voiceovers. No play by play. Just the game, and the occasional graphics telling you stats and game positions. It was one of the best games I ever watched. They never did it again. They probably never will. So it’s a serious question I have for NBC: why is your coverage so awful? Why are you so afraid of airtime that isn’t filled by the chiaccharare-batcheat-chitchat of your chirpy and uninformed magpies? Who is responsible for this? Does your market research show that people would rather listen to your talking heads babble about what we’re watching rather than actually listen to the show they tuned in to watch? Do you really think you’re going to be able to compete in the global marketplace in 2008, when instead of having to wait all of 24 hours to see the BBC feed, I’ll be able to watch it live as it happens? Because if you do, it’s time for me to short-sell General Electric.

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