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A Better NBC Olympic Broadcast in Five Steps

Written by Alexander Tucker   // 08/04/2012

London 2012 Olympics NBCHow to build a better NBC Olympic Broadcast in five steps

NBC Universal achieved the best Non-U.S. Olympic ratings in Ceremony history. As of Friday, August 3, approximately 19.3% of all U.S. households were regularly tuning into NBC’s primetime Olympics broadcast. Overall ratings are 10% higher than Beijing in 2008.

Numbers speak volumes, but I can’t say I’m overly impressed with how NBC has handled the Olympics. However, I’ve always been told to offer solutions instead of problems.

So instead of complaining, here are five things I’d do if NBC was mine to tinker with for the next Olympic games:

1. Free live streaming of the Olympic games for all Americans.  If my American network is part of a conglomerate of entertainment, cable and television properties, there is no reason why we can’t do this. This is a global event, not a sitcom series. Specialty “members only” content packages can certainly be created to generate additional revenue.

2. Spoiler Alerts: We will not broadcast any information about same day results or event happenings without first explicitly telling all viewers that spoilers are imminent. If viewers can’t access other live content, tweets, Facebook updates, texts, or phone or smoke signal their friends to find out what’s happening, they’re going to count on us to shut up until they can sit down in front of a screen. This especially applies when the games are held in a time zone more than three hours ahead of the East coast.

3. Mandated coverage of international athletes, especially when they achieve an upset. Olympics are international and we are responsible for telling stories about all big winners, not just our own. This means at least two reporters on hand at the finish to get the interviews. It also means keeping cameras on all the athletes on the medal stand during the ceremony, not just tight close-ups on the American gold winners.

4. Demote any commentator who carries on rambling during opening or closing ceremonies. Said offenders will be relegated to doing local culture pieces about crazy restauranteurs who serve Olympic Ring desserts. This also applies to commentators who feel compelled to announce past disasters/failures by an athlete in the middle of a potentially life changing event.

5. Issue free temporary Olympic Ring tattoos. Include them in all breakfast cereals, food products and product packaging sold by sponsoring partners. Non-toxic, easy to remove and safe for kids, they encourage bonding, look cool and show Olympic spirit. I know because I’ve seen real ones on at least five American Olympians. Who wouldn’t want one?

The 2014 Winter Olympics are in Sochi, Russia. NBC has learned SO much from these London games – there’s no reason why they can’t plan for everything on my list by then. They’ve got time and the encouragement of every patriotic TV-watching, Twitter-tweeting, Facebook-posting, blog-writing American. It would send ratings soaring even higher than London 2012, and I’m pretty sure it would make the Russians happy.


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