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Sunday, February 12, 2006

NBC is the worst network in the universe

So I'm socked in by snow-- did the shopping, etc. yesterday before the big storm and don't need to leave the house (did go to the gym this morning and shoveled snow, but that will be enough to head off cabin fever I think). Usually, snow is a bigger inconvenience, but with all the weekend activities done, I felt great about sitting around and watching TV, especially with the Winter Olympics in progress.

What. the. hell?!?

NBC, rather than trying to show the Olympics to fill their Sunday afternoon sporting timeslot, is showing, and I am not kidding in any way, Daytona 500 gualifying "events." These events include the fascinating spectacle of single cars going around the track, totally alone, in order to qualify for the race. The other riviting television that we see in between single cars going around the track are scenes from the NASCAR inspection process. Honest to god, a few minutes ago I saw the gripping television that is a crew member adjusting the turnbuckles on the rear spoiler flap while an inspector watched to ensure that the angle would be within the limits of the NASCAR rules. Occaisionally the network will show us a timer counting the elapsed time for the car that they are following through the inspection process. I guess I'm supposed to be impressed that the inspection process takes upwards of four and a half hours. Just this second an announcer is standing next to what I imagine is the Daytona 500 trophy.

Now I'm sure that NBC knows what theyre doing, and that ratings for the NASCAR Daytona 500 qualifying will be higher than anything that they could have shown instead, like any of these things that happened today in Torino:

  • Men's and women's cross country skiing pursuit races (30 and 15 Km, respectively)
  • Men's snowboard halfpipe qualification runs
  • Luge men's singles runs 3 and 4
  • Ski jumping 1st round
  • A boatload of short track speedskating heats
I'd love to see more of these events-- we just don't see them in the US, and I like to see them in the olympics every 4 years. I know that they are going to be "shown" in the prime time programming later in the day, but we all know that NBC will show us virtually nothing of these events. In the Luge we'll see the top two guys (the 39 year old Geman and the Italian) and the US runs, and that will be it. We'll see outtakes from the cross country events. We'll see the US jumps and the jumps of the top competitors in ski jumping, and that will be it.

It jsut seems like NBC, especially on the weekend, could do more with these events. I'm old enough to remember ABC's Wide World of Sports-- "spanning the globe to being you the constant variety of sport"-- and the great thing that was the variety of the events showccased week to week. When Wide World of Sports started, ABC felt that it wasn't going to be anything more than a filler for the non-sporting Summer weekends, and it's unexpected popularity took ABC by surprise. It seems like the lesson of WWoS, that Americans like to see the variety of sporting events worldwide, have been lost on NBC in it's quest for prime time relevance and domination by the Olympics through the "dramafication" of the various events and incessant rooting for the US atheletes. We like sports, all sports, and the fact that we don't know what will happen next. I'd like more of the olympics from NBC.

[UPDATE: Monday 12:31 PM]: So NBC did step up and do an admirable job of showing more olympic sports than I expected yesterday afternoon (cross country pursuit for instance). So I will perhaps remove their "worst network in the universe" title depending on their performance for the remainder of the Olympics. Their prime time shows still stink, though.

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