Breaking News: Above all else, the Olympics are a TV show.
Higher, Faster, Stronger…ratings and ad revenue.
Sure, it’s a competition steeped in history and involving over 200 countries, but don’t kid yourself.
Actually, we can cut it into two parts – the live event and the televised coverage. It’s the coverage I’m talking about here.
1. Characters – No matter which sport you are watching, the announcers develop characters. These characters play off stereotypes – “golden boy,” “rising star,” “hot-head.” Giving you someone to root for pulls you into the story of the competition, whether it’s a 1-minute race or an all-day event.
2. Hosts – Does NBC bring the entire Today Show team (plus Ryan Seacrest) across the pond for just a series of sporting events? No. These are highly-paid TV professionals. If it were just sports, Bob Costas and Al Michaels would do the trick, no?
3. Spoilers – This is the big one. NBC, following tradition that dates back decades and across networks, puts together a prime time package that features what they believe will garner the highest ratings. Can you imagine if the NFL showed games on a tape delay? [For the record, I tend to create my own tape delay situation during NFL season, so I can enjoy Sunday with my family before devouring the games.]
It would never fly.
But the Olympics, more so than any other sport, are a TV miniseries, filmed during the day and aired in prime time.
Thus, we are faced with the same spoilers that ruin/enhance many TV shows. I’m sure people on the West Coast are tired of seeing the “big reveals” for their favorite shows on Twitter and Facebook hours before enjoying the program.
So with a 24/7 news cycle and constant social media, the prime time enjoyment of the Olympics are falling victim to our advanced technology.
We’re always connected, so we’re never disconnected. We may know what’s going to happen — but we still watch.
And that means we are treating the Olympic coverage like what is really is – a sports-entertainment reality show airing across the NBC networks. Nothing wrong with that.