Stop Thinking Of NBC’s Primetime Winter Olympics As Sports, They’re Entirely Entertainment

Two NY Times pieces today about the Winter Olympics, one about the overt cheering for “Team USA” by NBC, and the other about the unhappiness of some northern state residents about not being able to watch the Olympics on Canada’s CBC, but instead being forced to watched NBC, are the latest in a long line of media complaints about NBC’s primetime Olympic coverage (like airing the USA/Canada hockey game to MSNBC, and showing the Pacific and Mountain time zones tape delayed primetimes).

Why does anyone continue to think of NBC’s primetime Olympics coverage (as opposed to some actual Olympics sporting events televised on NBCU cable networks) as sports programming? It’s not. It’s entirely entertainment programming. It’s more a combination of the Today Show and the Academy Awards red carpet and after parties than it is anything actual sports related. And why should that surprise anyone? NBC has always telecast the Olympics like that.

If they televised Olympics primetime like an actual sporting event, they wouldn’t get a fraction of the women viewers their current format gets them, and I doubt they’d gain many additional male viewers in the process.

Those commenters howling for ABC/ESPN (or anybody else) to take over the Olympics in the future aren’t likely to be pleased either. Considering this year’s ratings, it’s unlikely that any other network would make major changes to the format.

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