NBC Doesn’t Provide Live Coverage Of The Olympics

I had a discussion with a client yesterday about the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. She is based in L.A. and the only coverage they get of the games is from NBC. NBC, for some reason, has chosen not to provide live coverage of the games. My client is in the same time zone as the games, she has a television in her office, she would have the competitions on if she could—but they aren’t live.

This is a conversation that we have had quite often recently in the AHA Creative Strategies office. AHA partner Paul Holman is a sports fan and has been immersed in the Olympics—both going to events and watching it on television (and watching it on the Internet and following it on Facebook and Twitter…you get the picture). He talked about it before the games started, remembering their coverage from past Olympics.

Business Insider wrote a piece on this that asks the questions that I think many of us want answered. It’s worth a read.

We have heard from several American friends and colleagues visiting us in Vancouver that the Canadian coverage of the games is exceptional. CTV, TSN and Sportsnet are covering the events live and doing a great job of it.

You would think that with the widespread use of social media including Twitter and Facebook (there are a lot of athletes and Olympic teams with Facebook pages)—not to mention that most cell phones, BlackBerrys or iPhones have cameras and video cameras and that visuals can be uploaded online in mere seconds—that being live would be important to the network. By the time the people in the U.S. see the coverage of the games, they often already know who won and lost.  Even the different event venues in Vancouver and Whistler are using social media to promote what is happening there and keeping people up to date on how long they might have to wait to get in.

On another note, I just read that ABC is eliminating 300 – 400 positions at their network. It seems to me that the big dog broadcasters are having a challenge adapting to this new 24/7, instant information access world.

We need professional broadcast journalists in our society, and it frustrates me when it seems like the rest of the world can see what is going on and they can’t. Professional journalism is important to bring context to the events in our world. I believe there needs to be a blend of citizen journalism, bloggers and professional journalism to bring balance to our news.

I know a lot of very smart journalists who have embraced social media as a part of their reporting process. I think it will be interesting to see what kind of media companies they build to fill the gap that is happening now as the old, established networks crumble down around us because they aren’t keeping up with what their audience expects from news providers.

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