I realize this is a stressful time for you. You’ve paid billions for the rights to the Olympics, and advertisers have likely already paid you billions as well. So now it’s time to execute. Many have been very critical of your decision to air highlights at night after many people already know that results. No more entertaining at least than Heidi Moore. Admittedly, even I have been critical, or at the very least used your coverage as the butt of many jokes.
The argument is simple of course. To maximize ad revenue you have to air the highlights at night. But in the 21st century, especially with Twitter, you can’t control the results spilling out early. So there’s little to show other than what happened. Eventually you’ll figure out how to make it work, so I’m not going to bother you about it here. I have two other bones to pick with you:
90% of your commentators suck: I’m a huge fan of swimming. But you’ve got to do something about Rowdy Gaines in the booth and that squirrel on the ground interviewing swimmers. Rowdy can provide color, but when he gets excited the viewers cringe. And to anyone that knows anything about the sport, he doesn’t add value. The lady on the ground interviewing swimmers is clearly uncomfortable. Her body language is awkward and the questions she asks leave the swimmers bewildered as to why she’s there. In other sports the play-by-play announcers show incredible bias for the US. Clearly we know why. But I don’t need them to be my cheerleader. The exception was at gymnastics, where the announcers clearly hated anything the American men did and had no way to shine a light on what was a dismal field from all countries. I can only hope your track & field team is better because the first half of coverage has been awful. It proves to me there is such a thing as a skilled announcer.
You’re shooting yourself in the foot: You can’t stop Twitter from reporting results, but you can stop yourselves from giving it away. Perhaps most of your viewers lack the intuition to notice, but some likely have. For instance, as the women’s individual gymnastics competition was still being decided, you aired a commercial for the next day’s Today Show. Gabby Douglas was going to be on but Aly Raisman was not. The only reason to feature one and not the other is that one wins a medal and the other doesn’t. Even when Aly tied for 3rd and a tiebreaker was needed I didn’t need to wait for an explanation for how that works. It was clear all along she wouldn’t medal after the Today Show spot. Likewise, your local affiliates are also happy to blow the results if a regionally significant athlete won an event. If you can’t control the details of events from getting loose before you air the events, at least control the noise from your own distribution channels for those of us that selectively exclude results from our news feeds throughout the day.