Last night, I watched 39-year old Bulgarian gymnast Jordan Jovtchev make his sixth appearance in the Olympic games. To say that his grey hair and distinguished demeanor set him apart from the other gymnasts is an understatement. He is proof that some of us can drive ourselves to the brink of exhaustion, and still hold on to compete for a medal.
Jovtchev’s first Olympics were in Barcelona in 1992. In 1992, the Internet did not exist. In 1992, the United States audience learned about the competitors through the color commentators and the human interest story tellers of NBC. It did not matter if the games and events were tape delayed, we spectators were on the edge of our seats spellbound, falling in love with the athletes as we eagerly anticipated the results of the games.
However, like Jovtchev, whose torn bicep and partially broken wrist have left him feeling obsolescent in a sport dominated by twenty-year olds, so too should NBC feel their prime time coverage and human interest recounts are antiquated in a world where information is available at the click of a mouse.
I am personally fascinated by the #NBCfail trending on Twitter.
In a world where one can get instant results through numerous social media sites, it seems arbitrary not to show more of the Olympic events live. It seems that NBC thinks that people still need Mary Carillo and Bob Costas to tug at their heart-strings for them to stand behind their athletes. NBC executives have to realize that when people show interest in a player, they have instant gratification in learning about said individual via Smartphone, iPad, or computer. As much as I found the seven-minute story about John Orozco moving, I could have heard of his hardships and inspiring story through the commentators, and then headed to the Internet to find out more. People are learning about their favorite athletes via YouTube videos, Tweets, and Wikipedia, to name a few.
NBC needs to realize that people know the results before they see the events. I already know that Dana Vollmer won the gold and set a new record in the 100-meter butterfly, although I will not be able to watch it until tonight. NBC’s coverage is like watching the movie the Titanic. As much as it is romantic to watch Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet fly at the bow of the boat, we know the iceberg will come into view; we know the boat will sink. Likewise, most Americans have access to MSN, and although I want to see Vollmer’s victory, it will be anticlimactic because I know the results.
Hopefully, NBC will reevaluate the way they show the Olympics by the time of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. With the numerous networks owned by NBC, they could show all events live throughout the day and night, and still showcase the high interest games, events, and athletes in highlight mode during primetime.
It is a new millennium, NBC; welcome to it!