I was all set to write a "What I'll Be Watching"-type post for the Olympics, since it started about seven hours ago with the Costasized opening ceremony. So I headed over to nbc.com for what seems like the first time ever, and I began looking up their television schedule to see what events would make it to tape-delayed primetime. I soon began to realize that NBC, though the sole continuous media outlet for Olympic coverage since 1988, still has pretty much no idea what it's doing.
Granted, it's difficult to allot television time for the Olympics before it's started-- some of the most memorable moments are its most unexpected. A world record might be broken in, say, javelin at eight in the morning with about 15% attendance. (Actually, Beijing will sell everything out. We constantly underestimate Chinese dedication.) NBC needs to have free time available to showcase these notable moments.
By the way, there hasn't been a minute of NBC TV coverage yet, and I'm already getting my curmudgeon on.
With that being said, is it that difficult to just ballpark the dates and times of medal rounds? We basically have an idea when these rounds will occur in Beijing time. Are we supposed to assume they'll air the following night about twelve hours later? There's some sort of television schedule browser on NBC.com, but it's so user-unfriendly and slow, I barely made it to August 10 to notice the Badminton finals that night (I'll pace it). The funniest thing is how much the site builds up its schedule interface; you have to enter your zip code and cable provider... and it comes back with this? Has NBC ever considered Java? Do you know Frank Barcelona? In a perfect world, I could scroll over a date and time and the event(s) would immediately pop up. Sadly, I could write this current HTML table back in 1997.
NBC has indicated it's stepping up its online coverage this year, tripling the amount of total viewable hours. I'm not really that interested in the 29th Olympiad-- and the people that are probably don't know what a browser is-- but that's neither here nor there. I'm assuming this coverage is free, since I'm not sure the NBCsports.com programmers know how to make exclusive accounts. Anyway, this new feature is equally frustrating if you "really want to get into the Olympics this year," like I say before every opening ceremony.
For example, let's say you're really into Field Hockey. You want to know of any shred of available television and/or online coverage, tallied nicely in a crisp, Java-based table. Perhaps you'd even like to scroll over certain events to see TV/online networks, or vice versa. But at the very least, you'd like to see all these events listed in a succinct table from Day One to Day Sixteen without having to make unnecessary clicks. This is not exactly a tech-intensive request.
Sorry, you're going to have to click on the schedule day-by-day. If you'd like any long term plan of when you want to watch these things, you're kind of stuck with tabulating the times, dates, and networks yourself. Also, we're not exactly sure how a DVR might handle this scheduling mish-mash either. Better just plan on watching NBC, USA, MSNBC, Bravo, PAX, and about five or six computer screens-- at once-- just in case.
The advent of DVR and its relation to the Olympics deserves a post in and of itself, and I'm not exactly qualified to talk about how one goes about recording every Field Hockey event televised. (In case you haven't noticed, the idea of research is pretty chili'd at this point.) But thanks, NBC, for ruining a biannual tradition of acting like I'm excited for the Olympics on the day of the opening ceremony.