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I am a massive fan of the Olympic games. I get so excited to watch all sorts of sports – everything from shot put to archery and my favorite, gymnastics. Unfortunately, the television coverage in the United States for the Rio games has been plagued with issues. There’s the well-covered sexism, which is frustrating, but I am not covering that here (at least not in detail). My major issue is currently with NBCOlympics.com.

NBC has exclusive broadcast rights in the United States for the Olympic games, so unless you can find a sketchy way to watch another country’s coverage online, you are stuck with NBC. What seems to be an improvement over previous coverage is that there are replays available on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app, and also live events available to be streamed. This is great, right?

You also have to turn to either the website or app to view full events. NBC’s primetime coverage on television is weirdly skewed towards swimming and track, and while I don’t want to slight those athletes, there are other things going on, other things that are awarding medals, and semifinals in swimming shouldn’t be shown when other athletes are in finals for medals.

Anyway, last Thursday was the Women’s Gymnastics All-Around Final. I have been watching a LOT of women’s gymnastics on YouTube in the last few months, and I am a huge fan of the sport. I wanted to see the full coverage of the final, not just what NBC would show me in primetime, which turned out to be terrible coverage of mostly just American athletes, and again, showed swimming semifinals and made gymnastics fans wait until after 11pm on a weeknight to see the results.

So in an effort to watch the entire final when I got home from the office on Thursday, I opened the website to see if I could start watching the final, since I knew it was already over. This is what I saw.

Seriously, NBC? You couldn’t have avoided a spoiler here? This pissed me off so much, but I guess I should be surprised, given what was said by the NBC Olympics chief marketing officer:

The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the Games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and mini-series wrapped into one. And to tell the truth, it has been the complaint of a few sports writers. It has not been the complaint of the vast viewing public.

This is nonsense. Who are they polling or whatever to get this information? Why can’t I possibly watch a sporting event without it being turned into a reality show? The simplification of what “all women watching television in the United States” wants is asinine.

It is now 4 days later, and NBC is still committed to making sure that I know who won before I watch something.

If I was only interested in the performance of Simone Biles, I wouldn’t even need to watch this now, because they have told me who wins. When did someone decide that spoiler alerts were no longer relevant or necessary? I am still perfectly capable of avoiding social media in order to not be spoiled on things like this. The instances where I make this effort are few and far between, but it is possible.

Suggestions for alternative headlines:

  • Big day for Biles: Did she win? Watch now!
  • Watch now: Simone Biles’ historic run for gold!
  • Women’s All-Around Final: Watch Now

Each of these pages or stories could have giant spoiler alerts on them before revealing the medalists. It isn’t difficult in the least, but I guess I’m not interested in who wins, right?

The bottom line is that while this is ridiculous, I will likely continue going to NBCOlympics.com to watch Olympic events, because I simply have no other choice. I sincerely hope that they revisit their approach to coverage on television and online for the next event.

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Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (100 Films in 2011)

by Jamie Sanford on November 28, 2011

89. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (Available to stream on Netflix, available to rent digitally from Amazon)

Here is the trailer for Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop.

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is a documentary that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the aftermath of Conan’s shortened Tonight Show run and following nationwide tour.  As someone who has never been a huge Conan person (although I was completely Team Coco while he was getting screwed by NBC), this was an interesting look at the man tied to all of the drama.

So, the beginning of the film gives us a short recap of the drama with NBC that led to Conan O’Brien walking away with $45 million, which we know now turned into a deal for him to do a show on TBS.  Soon after the end of his Tonight Show run, the tour was conceived and rehearsals began.  We are exposed to Andy Richter, Conan’s new backup singers/dancers, and his long-suffering (but hopefully well-paid) assistant, Sona.

So, Conan is really funny, but at times, incredibly exasperating.  He sells out most of the tour within minutes, and the audiences clearly love him.  He seems to be too annoyed about meeting fans and doing meet-and-greets.  Cut to Conan saying how he will never say no to someone but while he is saying it, it seems that he is relaying that he HATES it.  It sort of ruined the movie for me.  I’m sure the intent was not to make people think that Conan is a big d-bag, but it sort of made the rest of the movie hard to watch. I’m sure hardcore Conan fans will be all over this though.

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is available on DVD from Amazon for $16.99.

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Well played, NBCOlympics.com!

by Jamie Sanford on March 8, 2010

Obviously I’m a bit behind, because the Olympics have been over for a week now.  However, I wanted to be sure to comment on the online coverage available from NBCOlympics.com.  In this post, I will focus on the “You Be The Judge” feature that was available to use during the figure skating competitions.

So here you can see the first panel that was present – there’s some information on the skater (in this instance, my favorite figure skater, Johnny Weir), along with their planned program elements on the right.  As those elements are performed in the program, they become highlighted so that you can then score the skater on their grade of execution for that particular element.  As you can see in the image, I’ve given Johnny the highest scores for each element.  The unfortunate thing here (and I am fairly certain that you can’t fix this) is that skaters sometimes change elements in the middle of the program – they can fall, make a planned triple jump into a double, etc.  This means that you are scoring that person on whatever they do, which means that the base value of that jump is going to reflect what was planned, not what actually took place.  In addition, what looks like a triple jump to us at home can be downgraded based on super slow-motion replays that the judges are using these days.

Anyway, so after scoring the individual elements, you are shown the following scales:

So once you determine these ratings, you are given the final score.  If you go back to the first image, you can see that I put Johnny in first place.

In addition to “You Be The Judge,” the less ambitious watchers could use the scoring that was live updating after each skater, and also provided a bit more information than was was on the television screen.

So, at the start of Johnny’s program, this was on the screen:

As soon as the scores were up, it updated to this:

…and then, of course, also being live-updated are the overall results.  A bit less detailed but the information was still available for each skater.

As you can see, the Olympic judges know nothing and somehow Johnny Weir ended up in 6th place, underneath other skaters who were messy and fell down, but that isn’t the point.  I was already a big figure skating nerd, and this has just added to the fun.  I’m interested to see if we will be scoring gymnastics the same way for hte London summer games in 2012.

I’ll be writing part 2 soon, where I will cover the online event coverage!

Did you watch the Olympics? Did you utilize NBCOlympics.com to enhance your experience?

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