UPDATED WITH MORE NBC CONTROVERSY: NBC once again is screwing with (and screwing up) American viewers’ Olympics. Which begs the question: why does the IOC keep handing the games on a platinum platter to the Numbskull Broadcasting Company? U.S. audiences weren’t able to watch any of Danny Boyle’s 2012 London opening ceremonies until primetime tonight, which was hours after it took place live. (On the West Coast, there was even a second tape-delayed broadcast 9 hours after the fact.) NBC’s 30th Olympics executive producer Jim Bell not only made that dumb decision but even prevented Americans from watching live on computers and portable devices. (And silly me, I thought the coverage would improve without destestable Dick Ebersol at the helm of his 9th Olympics… Didn’t he invent NBC’s lack of live coverage?) As if Comcast didn’t have enough places to show or stream it live other than NBC primetime – from NBC Sports Network, Bravo, MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo, to all of nbcolympics.com. A sampling of tweets echoes my annoyance: “NBC showing complete contempt for its audience by not showing or streaming Olympics opening ceremony live”… “NBC making an incredible bid for gold medal for Stupidest Network Ever. No livestreaming, no broadcast, just pretending it doesn’t exist”… “Why didn’t NBC show the Opening Ceremonies LIVE and show them again on tape delay in prime time?”
NBC pathetically defended itself thusly: “We are live streaming every sporting event, all 32 sports and all 302 medals… 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 prime time.”
As if that weren’t enough of an outrage, NBC also insensitively edited out the Olympics Opening Ceremonies’ tribute to 7/7 London bombing victims. Britons are fuming that cut from the NBC coverage was Scottish singer Emeli Sande performance of a moving rendition of “Abide With Me” in their memory. Instead, the Numbskull Broadcasting Company replaced it with that Viscount of Vapidity Ryan Seacrest’s bland interview with already overexposed-in-the-media American swimmer Michael Phelps. (The tribute, according to British press accounts, included big screen shots of Boyle’s late father, and that of London 2012 chief Lord Coe, and dancers dressed in red, representing the struggle between life and death, picked out by a spotlight in the darkness of Olympic Stadium.)
I say send Jim Bell back to The Today Show pronto and don’t let him near any more of this games or the next four more Olympics through 2020. Hard to believe that Bell built his reputation at NBC as a sports producer. Then again, isn’t he losing Today‘s long and legendary lead over his morning show rival Good Morning America after 7 years? So why make him NBC Olympics czar when he can’t even attract breakfast viewers anymore?
That said, Oscar-winning British director Danny Boyle won major round-the-world kudos for a cheeky Opening Ceremonies that turned Olympic Stadium into a giant juke box. Who didn’t enjoy the nonstop rock and pop homage to the birthplace of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles and everything else most cool about Britain? Naturally Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger were on hand as well as James Bond (Daniel Craig) and The Queen (for real and a stunt double too), Also Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean), Kenneth Branagh, David Bowie, and many others including David Beckham (a consolation prize since he didn’t make the UK soccer team’s cut). And let’s not forget those animals: 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, 9 geese, 3 cows, 3 sheep dogs, and 2 goats. There was even a moving Muhammad Ali appearance. How Boyle kept almost everything secret is miraculous. What did you think of the show?