Watching the Olympics -- 08/10/08

The opening of the Olympics really was spectacular. I'm not sure how London could possibly top the show China put on, but actually I think they shouldn't even try. These opening ceremonies have become spectacles beyond all reason. (Yes, I think the same thing about things like the half-time show at football's Super Bowl and about the forthcoming political conventions.) Give it a rest. Let the athletes parade in, have some people come running in with the torch, light the cauldron (if you must). That's it. No need for thousands of people to dance and sing and cavort in exotic costumes. No need to spend untold millions of dollars trying to outdo the previous show. (However, it was a spectacular show... and it was the first time I have ever found an Olympics opening ceremony to be interesting enough to actually watch the whole thing almost from start to finish.)

I've also finally found scheduling information at the NBC Web page for their Olympics coverage. They are using every channel they own to carry Olympic programming -- plus having video feeds on the Internet -- so that they will be putting out a thousand more hours of Olympics this year than the total of all U.S. televised coverage of all prior Olympics -- about 3600 hours total. Another thing I discovered is that with all of these hours of coverage, apparently it is only the coverage on NBC itself that is clogged with the usual run of inane features and tear-jerker biographies. The coverage on the other channels seems to be just that -- show the sporting events. (At least from the bits I sampled yesterday morning and this morning.) Of course they still have announcers babbling on about what is going on, but they can be ignored (or just turn down the volume -- and on the Telemundo channel they're speaking in Spanish, so I have no idea what they are saying). (Our digital cable service is also carrying two more NBC channels -- one in Korean and one in Mandarin.) However, Saturday night we tried watching their prime time coverage on the main NBC broadcast -- and Nancy got so annoyed at the talking heads and the constant stream of little feature stories instead of actually showing sports that she went upstairs to read. I followed her about twenty minutes later. The delay was not because I was interested in the broadcast; it was because I had fallen asleep. *grin*

Well, at least there is real coverage on their other channels -- plus the Internet video -- so as long as their schedules are accurate, I might be able to watch some of the track and field events that I am interested in. U.S. television coverage of track and field at any time is both scarce and terrible -- but then television coverage of most sports other than the big three (i.e., baseball, basketball, and football) plus golf and tennis -- is rather poor. (Gold and tennis don't produce the large audiences that the big three do, but golf and tennis audiences tend to contain lots of affluent people, including business owners and executives, so companies are eager to buy airtime for their commercials to reach those affluent demographics.)

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