The London Olympics ended on a sour note in terms of coverage. And some audiences blamed NBC and DirecTV for spoiling their last hours of viewing. The Numbskull Broadcasting Company once again edited the heck out of its tape-delayed primetime broadcast Sunday night of the Closing Ceremonies. The network cut performances by The Kinks’ Ray Davies, Muse, Kate Bush, the Royal Ballet, and Eric Idle singing a swear word. The network also decided George Michael performing a track from his new record wasn’t worth sharing with America. (NBC did include Michael’s rendition of his classic “Freedom”. Some bigwig must be a fan of the song…)
But NBC’s most controversial move was to squeeze in a commercial-free preview of Animal Practice before airing The Who’s grand finale. It fell to poor put-upon NBC Olympics host Bob Costas to make the following announcement to viewers: “We’ll be back from Olympic Stadium in about an hour for the London closing party featuring The Who. But stay tuned now for a full episode of Animal Practice, the new NBC comedy presented commercial free.” The network brass changed plans to air Crystal The Monkey et al after the closing ceremony. Granted, the embattled network is desperate for more eyeballs for its 2012-2013 primetime. But NBC forfeited audience goodwill last night. Viewers were merciless on Twitter at #NBCfail and #closingceremonies.
In the Los Angeles area, DirecTV subscribers watching NBC’s last hours of Olympic coverage in HD experienced a 30-minute service outage. Some claimed to have missed the Spice Girls and Eric Idle. A message on the screen instructed viewers to change their settings and switch to the SD feed of Channel 4. As if most people are that tech savvy. KNBC sent out this tweet to its customers: “Sorry for the @NBCLA outage with @DIRECTV. We’re working to get it resolved as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience.” And DirecTV later apologized with this statement: “A technical issue at our broadcast center caused a brief disruption of the Los Angeles-based NBC HD signal this evening. The signal was down for approximately a half hour and was restored at 10:06 PT. We are looking into the cause and apologize to those customers who were affected.”
Back to NBC primetime, Ray Davies didn’t perform “Waterloo Sunset”, there was no dance piece to Kate Bush music, and George Michael was not seen singing a second song. The Muse was an odd cut because the group is fairly well-known Stateside from their Twilight Saga soundtracks. (Not just because they wrote the London Olympics theme song, or because the lead singer dates actress Kate Hudson.)
Also edited was Eric Idle singing “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life” from the iconic Monty Python movie Life Of Brian. He’s clearly heard cursing on the song lyric, “Life’s a piece of shit when you look at it,” on the NBC live-stream. But the network bleeped the swear word for the primetime broadcast.
U.S. viewers also didn’t hear UK officials thanking the volunteers, which prompted Olympic Stadium to erupt into thunderous applause. And deleted were some performance art pieces: one where a pyramid was built, and another of a phoenix with dancers dressed as flames.