When it comes to viewer-baiting, secrecy and pummeling by commercials, the competition is over. Just four days into the Summer Games, NBC won the gold medal. But it’s fool’s gold.
Tuesday night, NBC’s cameras certainly captured it all: drama, courage, pain and finally, triumph and tears. By Hollywood standards, the Magnificent Seven’s performance was compelling, but it could have been better.
Wednesday night’s primetime ratings were 27.2 with a 47 share, the highest numbers for any primetime Olympic coverage since July 29, 1976, when ABC had a 27.4 rating share from the Montreal Games. NBC research estimated the audience watching all or part of the Tuesday night coverage at 99 million persons.
Unfortunately, NBC’s coverage was meticulously scripted, just like they do in Tinseltown. It was done in a manipulative manner, dubbing it “plausibly live.”
Steve Zipay of Newsday writes about his gripe, shared by numerous of his callers Wednesday.
Did the viewer have to be teased and misled and forced to slog through endless promos, cycling highlights and an equestrian feature that included a clip of “Mr. Ed” hitting a Sandy Koufax pitch, circling the bases and obeying third-base coach Wilbur’s plea to “Slide, Ed, slide?”
Zipay’s problem was - and we were warned numerous times - CNN, ESPN and radio stations already had reported the news of the events that led to Kerri Strug’s climactic vault. In fact, CNN interviewed Strug almost an hour before NBC played out its silly string.
Although the long-awaited gymnastics team finals ended in Atlanta at 6:40 p.m., NBC, ever aware of squeezing the maximum out of ratings, saved it for the final segment of its show.
U.S. boxing coach Al Mitchell doesn’t quite get the intricacies of billion-dollar network rights’ fees. When asked about NBC’s decision not to air boxing competition in primetime on weekdays, Mitchell said: “I can’t understand it. If NBC doesn’t want us, why can’t CBS or ABC take over?”
Talk about your unfair Olympic competition.
Joe Sabocik shifted from foot to foot watching a long line of women being allowed into the men’s restroom at the CNN Center while he was forced to wait.
With hundreds of thousands of people flooding into downtown each day during the games - and drinking anything they can to beat the Georgia heat - the inevitable is happening: The loo lines are lengthening.
“I know there are more women who need to go, but this isn’t right,” Sabocik said. The Portage, Ind., man took another big gulp from his water bottle. “Maybe if I empty this bottle, I’ll just fill it up again.”
There appears to be no shortage of public bathrooms for visitors milling about downtown between events, but some facilities are more popular than others.
While 75 portable toilets sitting in 90-degree heat along a downtown street were getting little use, the one set of public restrooms at the CNN Center, an air-conditioned mecca in the midst of several Olympic venues, drew constant lines of visitors.
“The ol’ plop-a-johns don’t cut it,” said Rich Waltz of Jensen Beach. Fla.
Atlanta Olympic organizers, facing mounting criticism in the wake of security breaches, computer failures and transportation troubles, were finally getting high marks - for bathroom delivery at Centennial Park.
“Those were awesome,” Jenna Long of Atlanta told her husband after using a Centennial Park ladies room. “I even got to wash my hands.”
Antiguan kayaker Heidi Lehrer needed medical treatment when the bus in which she was riding hit a concrete barrier protecting the road to the Lake Lanier Olympic venue. Lehrer, 30, had been at the rowing-canoe-kayak venue practicing for events that start Tuesday. The collision caused some damage to the bus, and Lehrer was the only person on board who complained of pain following the accident.
Billy Payne, president and CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, whose dream was to bring the Olympics to Atlanta and showcase the South to the world, said all responsibility for the severe problems of transportation and technology affecting media coverage of this event rested with ACOG.
“It is my fault. It is our fault,” Payne said at a luncheon to which he invited representatives of newspapers from New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and five national and international press organizations.
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