Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An Open Letter to NBC

Dear NBC,

I hate you.

Yes, you read that correctly. As the official media carrier of the Olympics until the end of time, your coverage of these games, be them winter or summer, should be as up-to-date and as ground-breaking as possible. In short - LIVE. Or as close to live as the federal regulations on broadcasting will allow.

I understand the censorship delay (even though I don't agree with it). I understand that when the Olympics are in China, Italy, Russia, Brazil, or London, that the time-zones of our awesomely cool planet (in accordance with the sun) will not allow for live broadcasting. Sportscasters do have to sleep, after-all. I understand that your constituency is not comprised of Olympic-junkie insomniacs who eat, sleep, and breathe the greatest of sporting events (though don't count us out!). I've given you a lot of slack over the years, NBC. I've never complained before. At times, I've even defended you to some of my more outraged friends who were already aware of your shady and irresponsible broadcasting ways. But now? You've pissed off a Polar Bear. And I have one word for you: Vancouver.

In case you didn't know, NBC, you are located on a continent in the Western Hemisphere called North America. Coincidentally, (and luckily) Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada is ALSO located in North America. Now, I know it's confusing that the province (Canadian states are called 'Provinces') of British Columbia has both the words 'British' and 'Columbia' in the name. Is it that Rabbit-shaped island in Europe? Or is it a South American country known for mass producing Cocaine? Happily for you, NBC, it is neither of these. British Columbia, in fact, is the Province above the State of Washington (and part of Idaho). It's just North of our American city, Seattle! See? That's not so scary, is it? In fact, British Columbia even shares a time-zone with the Pacific US - Yes! It's true! The time zone goes by the name "Pacific Standard Time." Yes, the same time zone that your affiliates in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland use! Yes, Seattle is in that time zone, too - stay with me.

Now, there are actually 6 time zones in US - Alaska and Hawaii each have their own time-zones, but let's just concentrate on the continental United States for the time being, shall we? We'll go from Left to Right - there's the Pacific Standard (remember, Los Angeles to Seattle?), Mountain (Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City), Central (Dallas, Kansas City, St. Louis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Nashville, Chicago), and Eastern (New York City, Boston, Cleveland, Washington DC, Baltimore, Atlanta).

This is where things get tricky.

So if Vancouver, BC shares time with Los Angeles, that means that the cities in the Mountain Time Zone are one hour ahead - Here - let's graph this out, shall we?

If Los Angeles is 12:00 p.m., then ...

- Denver is 1:00 p.m.
- Chicago is 2:00 p.m.
- New York is 3:00 p.m.

Got that? I know it takes some heavy-duty mathematics to calculate this, but you're doing super well! Hang in there!

So let's say there's an Olympic event ... any event ... let's take, oh, I don't know ... MEN'S QUARTER FINALS in HOCKEY - The United States (that's our country) playing Switzerland (It's one of those European countries in the middle, but they're pretty good at Hockey). This is the elimination round, so if either team loses, they're out of the tournament. Now the game starts at 12:00 p.m. in Vancouver. You have 4 continental time zones in which to show it ... looking at the math we *just* did, what do you do, NBC?

Do you....

A) Show the game live at 12:00 p.m. PST (with a censorship delay) across all market time zones, with the option to replay the game on one of the FOUR other networks you have during Prime time (for each respective time zone) for the folks who might have missed it while at work?

B) Skip the game all together in favor for sudden-death curling between two countries that have nothing to do with the United States or Canada?

C) Tape the game, but wait until 3:00 p.m. PST/6:00 p.m. EST to show the game on ALL local affiliates, thereby canceling any excitement for anyone who has the opportunity to watch the game live, and showing crappy day-time shows like Deal or No Deal, Access Hollywood, The Ellen DeGeneres Show*, Days of Our Lives, and The Martha Stewart Show?

D) Show the game live on one of the basic cable channels (CNBC or MSNBC), with the option to air it on the local affiliates during Prime Time

E) Either A or D, because they make the most sense and serve the most people across all time-zones.

F) Either B or C, because no other city but New York City matters, and if most of us can't watch the game live, then neither can the rest of you?

Do you know why I'm upset with you now, NBC? Can you see why your programming makes no sense? I don't understand, in an Olympic year where the games are being held on our great North American continent, why you only seem to show "live" coverage of sports you don't think most people care about like Curling, Women's Hockey, Nordic Skiing, and the Biathalon. I, for one, DO care about those sports, and have been grateful to have spent my mornings and afternoons watching them. So thank you for that.

But I simply can't fathom how you've let this opportunity slip you by! "LIVE" is the banner that local news affiliates have shouted as a battle cry for the past three decades. "We come to you live...", "We are live on the scene," "We're bringing you live coverage..." - These are the anthems you in the broadcasting media seem to live by - it's your battle cry! News is not news unless it's happening RIGHT NOW. Ironically enough, most of the news you do cover live seems to be about the horribly depressing and dire side of our human condition. And the Olympics always elicit the best moments that we, as a world, get to watch together. No other event happens with the consistent joy and regularity that the Olympics do. 

And yet you take this precious two weeks of time to refuse our potential for LIVE enjoyment and pride by dictating the terms under which we can view events? Shame on you, NBC. You are a media oligarchy, and not as benevolent as you presuppose. 

If such weighty measures came down to me, I'd split your contract between ABC, CBS, and Comedy Central. Because I'll tell you what - Stephen Colbert could give me better, more interesting coverage than Bob Costas ever could. 

Yours disgustedly,

The Polar Bear

*No, Ellen DeGeneres' show isn't crappy at all - but don't you think the quarter-final of Olympic Hockey is slightly more important?? If your answer is no, I don't want to hear it.
This blog post is brought to you by:

My Disgust for the above


jennifer from pittsburgh said...

I'm watching the US Men's hockey game right now.
I hate NBC too, and ever notice how diminutive Bob Costas is? He's positively elfin. Not that's there's anything wrong with that, just an observation. I don't think his feet touch the floor when he's perched on that chair. I'll stop now ;)

H said...

You wrote an excellent letter! Did you send this (or something similar) to NBC? :-)

Phoenix said...

Dickheads. May I add to your list of complaints: a) stop treating me like I have ADD and knock it off with the inter-cutting between sports...let me watch one from start to finish please?? and b)stop loving to listen to your commentators talk. Shut up and let me watch the goddamn sport.

Radical Bradacal said...

Trace, add complaints - the more the merrier. They just SUCK.