NBC’s Olympic reality bubble.

NBC is showing the Olympics, in case you hadn’t heard. LWC and I have been watching every night and enjoying the competition. It doesn’t hurt that the USA teams are doing well. Lots of young athletes in spandex have a certain other kind of appeal I won’t go into now.

What is weird is the strange way that NBC is repackaging the Olympics. It’s much like a reality show. The key coverage for NBC is the nightly prime time programming. During this coverage, many events from earlier in the day are reshown. This allows them to edit things together and take out stops in the action, but it requires some weird precautions.

The commentators can never talk about time. Once, I heard an announcer say, “This morning,” and I’m sure that somebody was screaming in his ear about it. They very carefully conceal what time the events actually take place.

During the day, there has been live coverage of events like hockey and curling on NBC’s other two networks, CNBC and MSNBC. On the prime time show, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard host Bob Costas even say the word “curling.”

Things got really weird this weekend, when the much-anticipated Canada vs. USA preliminary game was shown live on MSNBC. (Let’s not talk about the earlier Russian vs. Slovakia prelim that was shown on NBC in HD the same day.) While this game was wrapping up, the prime time NBC coverage was starting. It proceeded as usual and then… and here’s the weird part… NBC interrupts their coverage to cover the end of the Canada vs. USA hockey game! Many of us had already watched the end of this game not ninety minutes before. So that little conceit was an outright lie by NBC, to say they were cutting away to cover the event as it was happening.

Tonight, I saw a big board of results at the Women’s Ski Cross event that told me the local time was 14:11. That’s a quarter after 2 Pacific time, which told me that I was watching events from 8 hours earlier. I’m sure that director got yelled at for showing that board too. When you’re crafting your own reality, you have to be careful about the little things.


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