What with the recently wrapped Winter Olympics competition results being known well in advance of NBC‘s various Olympics broadcasts, and the United States coming in fourth in number of gold medals scored, behind Russia (13), Norway (11), and Canada (10) (U.S. was No. 2 in overall medal count, behind Russia), many of NBC’s most buzz-worthy Sochi moments were all about — NBC. Which, presumably, is the future of broadcast network primetime Games coverage. How successful was NBC? Here’s a look at the 4 Big NBC Moments At Sochi:
“I’m Bob Costas, sitting in tonight for Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira,” Costas joked when he finally returned as NBC’s Primetime Games anchor after six days on the sick list while doctors treated his Twitter-trending double eye infection. The incident was historic, because it broke Costas’ 14-year Olympic anchoring streak and Vieira became the first woman ever to get the gig, if only temporarily.
Bode Miller’s Tears
When Olympian Bode Miller doubled over weeping as NBC peppered him with questions about his dead brother, after winning the Super-G bronze medal, social media response was savage. NBC Olympics EP Jim Bell insisted it would have been “irresponsible” of the network not to have asked Miller about his brother, who died in April, after setting up that storyline before Bode’s run. But what saved NBC, ironically, was Miller coming to the network’s rescue the next morning on Today show, saying interviewer Christin Cooper is “a sweetheart of a person” who he knows “didn’t mean to push” adding, “I do not blame her at all. I feel terrible that she’s taking the heat for that.” For years NBC has used this super-personal strategy in its Olympics coverage, thinking it connects viewers with the athletes and the Games. Also at Sochi, Meredith Vieira asked silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace about a miscarriage she suffered a few years ago and the role it played in her decision to come back from Olympics retirement.
Russian Police Choir
NBC tried to do damage control for its controversial Olympics Opening Ceremony edits when it had the Russian Police Choir re-perform Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” on Today. NBC’s shocking lack of cop-choir performance, which went viral, was among the offenses listed by The Reporters Who Cover Olympics in their How NBC Screwed Up The Opening Ceremony This Time think pieces — though, in its defense, NBC noted the cop choir performed before the ceremony officially began. (The other biggie was NBC’s decision to edit IOC chief Thomas Bach’s opening ceremony speech so that viewers did hear him make one comment in favor of embracing human diversity, but did not hear him expand on the theme.) NBC was more careful to not cut anything that might go viral from the Closing Ceremony, axing a performance of a Rachmaninoff tune by 60-something pianists, and an homage to Russian circuses.
Luger’s Big Bad Wolf
NBC was at the heart of what may be the Most Viral Sochi Olympics moment, and that’s the point. NBC was among the news outlets duped by ABC late-night star Jimmy Kimmel’s lastest hoax, in which he posted to USA luger Kate Hansen’s Twitter account, with her approval, a video that depicted a wolf walking in the hallway outside her Sochi room. Kimmel, in revealing his work, did air a clip of NBC’s Willie Geist report on the wolf citing. The next day Geist said NBC had been had, by “the great Jimmy Kimmel,” assuring viewers the network had interviewed Hansen before running the item, and she’d confirmed the fake incident as being real.