Share this article

print logo

It is easy to live stream the Olympics, but more entertaining to watch NBC's prime time coverage

This is what I’m thinking in my Olympic diary:

I was excited Tuesday to test my technologic skills on the big day for the United States women’s gymnastics team.

I’m admittedly close to a tech idiot. But I passed my first test on Saturday when I signed up for NBC’s streaming site,

Don’t be intimidated.

I just placed Time Warner Cable as my carrier and in about 30 seconds I was declared eligible to watch every event – even the women’s gymnastics team finals Tuesday -- live on my computer.

Streaming events is a way to beat the most common complaint about NBCs prime time coverage – that it tape delays too much of the competition.

It does that so more Americans can see it, rather than just the lucky ones like me who don’t have to be at the office during the daytime.

And the strategy sure worked Tuesday. Channel 2 had a 22.7 rating Tuesday night, which was higher than any night here for the London Games in 2012.

So I’m guessing not many WNYers joined me around 3 p.m. Tuesday when  I went on to take my second technological test: Connecting my streaming device, Chromecast, so I would be able to watch Simon Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Lauren Hernandez and Madison Kocian compete on my television and not on my laptop.

It worked almost instantly. I was thrilled.

But almost as instantly it became clear that the U.S. women’s competition was being downplayed. The announcers told viewers how well the Americans had been doing as they focused on the Great Britain team but we didn’t initially see the U.S. gymnasts perform.

Just as I began to wonder if they would ever show an American perform or if they were saving the footage for the taped prime time coverage, Raisman showed up and performed extremely well on beam.

I think I saw one more American perform in 45 minutes before I decided the dull way the live stream played out was almost an advertisement for waiting to see it in prime time on NBC even if it was delayed.

About the time it was clear that Team USA was going to win the gold – I escaped to CNN to see the latest mess Donald Trump’s mouth got himself in.

After all, I knew I could watch the women in prime time.

Sure enough, NBC’s prime time coverage of the Final Five kicked in at the start of the 8 p.m. telecast and it was presented in a much more exciting way than the live stream. NBC wasn’t hiding how well the U.S. had done. Lester Holt announced they won the gold on the “Nightly News” at 6:30 p.m.

NBC feels that more people actually will watch when they know the United States does well. WNYers certainly were watching. The first hour Tuesday had a 20.5 rating.

Of course, after the first hour NBC made one of its annoying moves. After 50 minutes, host Bob Costas told viewers that they’d have to wait for hours to see the end. OK, he wasn’t that honest. He just said the end would be shown later.

It was hard to argue with the programming call since it meant viewers would see a couple of live gold medal performances by Michael Phelps and another by Katie Ledecky. The first swimming hour from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. had a 26.8 rating, which only slipped to a 23.8 from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. when Phelps won his second gold of the night in a relay.

But the wait until past 11 p.m. to see the U.S. gymnasts win the team competition and honor their retiring coach, Marta Karolyi by declaring “we’re the Final Five” was still a little annoying. I was glad that the announcers and later Costas explained that line. Usually, winners just say or point “we’re No. 1” as Phelps did after he won his grudge race.

The final hour from 11 p.m. to 12 p.m. had a 19.7 rating on Channel 2, still very healthy considering it was past bed time for most people.

It wasn’t like there was much suspense. The women dominated so much that not even Aly Raisman’s parents, now identified as Lynn and Rick, seemed all that nervous watching in the stands.

In a way, Aly’s parents have become such stars that they deserve to be in a commercial, perhaps for an anxiety medication product advertised during the nightly news.

As midnight approached, Costas got to interview “The Final Five,” who were an incredible advertisement for teamwork, team spirit and diversity in America. I must admit that I did wish they would have stopped talking while watching themselves watching the national anthem when they received their medals earlier. It was their only misstep of the night.

NBC’s excellent camera and audio work for its taped competition was an advertisement for watching in prime time on delay over watching it being streamed live.

And judging by Channel 2’s ratings, it is winning formula in WNY despite the criticism it receives.

Bills Flag Story Addendum: You may have read a quote from Meghan Quinn, who was responsible for getting the Buffalo Bills flag in front of viewers of NBC’s “Today,” about the reaction of NBC anchor Mike Tirico.

Quinn said Tirico "was upset he didn't notice the flag in the background [during the live shot]. He said he would have given a 'Go Bills' shout out if he did. He has friends in Hamburg."

He was most likely referring to former Channel 4 sports anchor and reporter Paul Peck and his wife Kim. Peck and Tirico were roommates at Syracuse. Tirico is the godfather to Paul and Kim’s daughter, Rachel.

Asked about the possibility that Tirico was referring to the Pecks as his friends,  Peck said he was “pretty sure he was talking about us. My wife texted him the screen shot. She told him to say hello to those folks and thank them.”





There are no comments - be the first to comment