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Hate NBC Olympics coverage? Blame merger mania.

Watch the snow and imagine Vonn skiing through it

Violet Socks is not the only person PO’d with NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. (There are plenty of complaints here and here.) Violet can’t see coverage in real time and she apparently works from home.  I can’t see it at all at work, not even with my dual recording DVR because there’s nothing to record in real time that I want to see.  NBC is even time delaying their broadcasts to the west coast.  That’s right, if you live in Seattle, you can’t see what’s going on in Vancouver, just up the road a spell, until 8PM when NBC, who has exclusive broadcasting rights in the USA, will turn to its marketing department to determine what you want.  If you are an American, NBC will presume that you don’t give a rat’s ass about the rest of the world’s athletes.  You will get highlights of events where Americans are expected to medal (or is that podium? ).  Interspersed with your carefully selected and edited sports niblets will be a ^&*(load of commercials and some nauseating human interest stories of determination and perserverence triumphing over heartbreaking personal loss and devastating injury.  (yeah, right, Lindsey Vonn’s shin injury was catastrophic.  Tell it to the podium)

It’s like getting dial-up Olympics coverage from AOL in a gigabit ether world that exists but that your municipality has forbidden you to get.  (No, I’m no bitter at all that I’m stuck on sucky DSL because my only other option is Comcast).

Why should you care?  Oh, I dunno.  I guess it’s because showing the games in real time should be a no brainer.  It’s not 1972 anymore and this is not the Wide World of Sports where, by the way, I think they showed every skiier from every country in their coverage of skiing.  This is 2010 where we *should* have instant access to everything.  If NBC is giving us sh^&&ty coverage, we should be able to turn to online sources for events in real time, that is, if they weren’t blocked by American IP address.  We should be able to go to a Canadian or European broadcaster for our downhill fix.

So, what’s going on here?  Ok, as  professional merger survivors, let me and my friends hazard a guess as to why NBC is failing to live up to our expectations.  Right now, Comcast and NBC are trying to merge.  Here’s how that goes: the first day that a merger is announced, all work comes to a screeching halt.  Formerly productive people spend their time speculating on the political chess game that is going on in their departments.  Who’s in, who’s out.  Projects are put on hold pending further review.  Projects that are going gangbusters prior to a merger announcement slow down to a trot.  People twiddle their thumbs while their overlords stab each other in the back, swing their dicks around and use their prodigious MBA’s to implement the idiotic plans of the consulting group they just hired to “transform” the place.  Then, because “we are too menny“, there must be layoffs.  The formerly productive workers cancel their living room furniture purchases and concentrate on getting their houses ready for a quick sale.  They spend hours grooming their resumes and making calculations of their gross yearly income based on the severance package that the company beancounters have sent out.  They sweat and worry and make appointments with their doctors to get the old bods in good working order while they still have health insurance.

Und zen zey vait.

How long will it take before all of the alpha males (and they are ALWAYS male) decide that they have strutted and preened enough to satisfy the shareholders, taken their cut and skeedaddled before everyone can get back to work?  Eventually, it happens.  Everyone is now one big happy company with values like “innovation!” and “Creativity!”.  But by that time, creativity has taken a backseat to survival.  When the Olympics roll around, the creative, innovative departments look around at their reduced headcount and their devastated budget and the even more manipulative and controlling overlords and they punt.  Just do it the way you did it last time.  Forget that there is new technology.  You don’t have the time, manpower or money to do it better.  Yeah, the shareholders (and you are probably one of them, which gives “conflict of interest”a new meaning) won’t get their bang for their buck but they won’t notice for at least another quarter.  And by then, your management will be looking for new “opportunities”.

Creativity?  Innovation?  Pleasing your customer base?  Who the f&*( has time for that when you’ve just kept your job by the skin of your teeth and the Idiots in Charge are too impressed with their business school credentials to listen to you anyway?

So, Comcast/NBC, when they finally merge, will push out content in time delay, like they do now, like it is 1972.  Only a few voices will stand up and call them on their borg like “You will be assimilated.  Resistence is useless” attitude.  We will fall farther and farther behind our Canadian, Asian and European counterparts.  We will have a free market, laissez faire, anything goes market place in the US where no one benefits but the consultants and the people who jettison at the last minute with golden parachutes, leaving everyone else with the bag and the blame.

So, what to do?  Well, we can’t prevent every merger but Al Franken is working on preventing Comcast/NBC.  Imagine if every innovation was given the same short shrift if the Comcast/NBC merger goes through.  Your cable company will control the horizontal and the vertical and you’ll NEVER see Lindsey Vonn ski in prime time- ever.

Ain’t America great?

To contribute to the only loud mouth in the Senate willing to stand up for us against the borgs, click here.

Now’s your chance to put your foot down and say “NO!” to more mergers, less freedom of speech, less control over content, less innovation.

51 Responses

  1. Are you saying they could digitally take out those blue-lines-in-the-snow if they really wanted to?

    • I think they were able to do that like 30 years ago. I hear they can do it in back water places like British Columbia and Norway.

      • I think they do it with just about every weather report…. It’s really embarrassing.

        Also, I hate it that we’re not all watching together all day long. And that we can’t watch what we want whenever – on demand.

        • Someone was saying that 20 or 30 years ago, NBC offered all these packages where you could buy whatever you wanted–80 hours of just skiing, etc. So basically, there was more choice before DVRs and before NBC owned 37 cable channels.

  2. I give the Olympics a miss entirely. What I truly cannot stand is commentators who simply will not S.T.F.U. EVER. I can’t deal with that.

    • I long for the Agony of Defeat era.

    • No Kidding! I have been shouting at the TV: STFU!! During the women’s downhill, it was constant inane chatter. At one point they were talking about one of the skier’s family farm–as she was going 70+MPH on the edge of her skis. Since I boycotted network commentators of all kinds in 2008, if I tune in for even a moment of their maudlin self-importance, it makes me crazy. Utter drivel. Shut up and let me watch the athletes please.

  3. I was just hearing about that on public radio today. Apparently most of the rest of the world gets many channels of live feeds. And apparently they’re amazingly great. Giving you the feeling you’re there. The interesting thing discussed was how NBC doesn’t trust the drama of the sporting event. With the live feeds you’re getting this great drama, you get the whole story, lots of nuance, stunningly dramatic, and the imagery is just amazing. But with NBC you’re getting this sterile over produced, chopped up. piece of crap.

    • NBC did almost as poorly with the Bejing Olympics, actually.

      Reports are the ratings are up and tens of millions are glued to the coverage….yet, I don’t know anyone who isn’t complaining. And, many are giving up trying to catch the events they wanted to see.

  4. NBC’s been doing a lot to piss off viewers with this Olympics. MSNBC viewers across North America turned on the channel Monday morning to watch Morning Joe and Daily Rundown. What they saw were reruns of those awful prison shows that get shown on the weekend.

    Apparently NBC is charging a premium for MSNBC during the Olympics. Cable companies that don’t go along are receiving an alternate “vanilla” feed. So they get the prison reruns during the Olympic blocks. For some reason NBC decided to show the prison reruns instead of the morning shows as well.

    http://insidecablenews.wordpress.com/2010/02/16/the-case-of-the-missing-msnbc-live-news/

    The most hilarious aspect of this is that NBC couldn’t be bothered to inform MSNBC staffers of what they did. The morning hosts and their producers were getting lots of angry tweets from viewers. Judging from their responses they were as mystified as everyone else

    NBC finally put out an explanation Tuesday evening. Willie Geist, one of the Morning Joe hosts, put up a couple of great tweets about it:

    My big apologies to those of you who are getting horrible prison shows instead of Way Too Early and MJ during the Olympics. Out of my hands.

    Nothing like a little “Lockup Wabash: Conjugal Visits” to start your morning. Certain cable providers didn’t pay for our Olympic coverage.

    It gets even better, though. Once the criticism hit, MSNBC released a statement that it wasn’t a big deal because less than 1% of their viewership was affected. The prison shows would continue to be run in the morning. In other words, they essentially told the affected morning viewers to drop dead.

    They’re so good at building and cultivating audiences, aren’t they?

    • This is what you get when you merge, merge, merge. They have to save money any way they can to pay off their shareholder debts. So what if it means you don’t get to see the Olympics? They can’t just give that away for FREEEEE. NBC paid $2.000.000.000 for the privilege. They’re going to wring every penny of profit from that that they can. It’a all about money.

      • I get the rationale for charging a premium for the Olympic coverage and blacking out that coverage for those who don’t pay up. What I can’t figure out is why they would black out their regular shows on top of it.

        I’m sure the MSNBC morning people were pissed when they found out what was going on. I would have loved to been a fly on the wall when Joe Scarborough found out. He’s not exactly known for his cool temperament.

  5. NBC sucks almost as much as Comcast sucks. Won’t it be grand when to completely sucky corporations merge their suckyness to achieve new levels of suckdome.

    • I hope to God they don’t bid on the Olympics 2012.
      But, yeah, it will suck. And they won’t care what you the consumer want in either a network or an ISP provider. You’ll take what the overlords allow and you’ll like it. Zucker and mediocrity rooooool!

      • NBC already has the US broadcast rights for 2012. But after that is still up in the air. *crosses fingers for the winter games to return to ABC*

        I remember ABC’s winter olympic broadcasts from 84 and 88 quite fondly. CBS’s coverage started out ok, but deteriorated by the time they lost out to NBC. NBC is dreck.

        I used to be a HUGE figure skating fan. I have every olympics from 84 through 2002 on tape. And you can literally watch from year to year and see the number of skaters shown in the US go down after CBS got the games. And it was the same for other sports as well. We deserve better coverage than this…and we used to get it.

  6. Money is the answer. Go after the advertisers – if you do not buy their products – and then let them know why not – you will soon see a lot of companies put a lot of pressure on the NBC Network [or any Network that you are targetting]. The key is this – The Majority of people need to “vote” with their dollars….and If everyone does it – it will bring them down to their knees. The power lies within us.

  7. Yeah, this war only gets bigger between content providers (publishers, studios, television, music) and content deliverers (cable, telco, internet, mobile). NBC is a provider soon to be owned by Comcast a deliverer, so it’s interesting. If you’re a Comcast customer, I’m sure your Olympics experience has been better than if you’re on Cox, Time Warner, Cablevision, etc. Comcast pretty much owns half the country outside of satellite. The time shifting is ridiculous. NBC wants to charge a premium for live, but mainly they want to air their taped content when maximum butts are on the sofa during primetime. And as RD says, NBC is scraping the barrel on production value given the chaos of the merger.

    What Comcast wants from the acquisition are NBCU’s profitable cable channels Bravo, History, USA, A&E and others. They will lose money on Universal, and they will lose even more money on NBC broadcast, so NBC television itself (along with MSNBC and even CNBC) is kind of a sinking ship and the rats are scurrying. Can’t say I feel sorry for them.

  8. I wrote to the IOC and begged them not to award the contract to NBC again.

    We in Seattle don’t just have to wait until late evening to get the replays, since NBC is just using pre-recorded stuff, anyway, they keep jumping from event to event and only showing us the competitors they want to….and endless commercials.

    Perhaps they think we should just drive to Vancouver and buy a ticket to whatever events we want to see. But, they know we’ll put up with plenty of agony because we consider Apolo and JR family 🙂

    I’m going to watch the Olympics when I think of it next month on YouTube….

    • Good going. If thousands of complaints turns into millions maybe they will listen. You wonder why the IOC would not be PO’d by the sloppy and selected coverage in the first place.

      • They should be, and if you read the media section of their website, the lucky chosen are supposed to promote the events to keep them going…NBC is still getting the ratings, so they probably won’t get bumped. They put in the highest bid…hopefully when Comcast makes the bid, they will broadcast everything, many real time, on the cable channels….and, let NBC do the bio’s and fluff pieces.

        They didn’t even broadcast the Opening Ceremonies in real time on the West Coast!!

  9. In other news, I think I love the Dalai Lama.

    The Dalai Lama today also told reporters that he told President Obama that more women should be in leadership positions. “The female (is) biologically more sensitive about…other suffering. The president agreed (with) that. So I just express I wish the amount of leadership more female, should be because of that. Should take leadership role.”

    An aide to the Dalai Lama said His Holiness would take questions later in the day, after meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    So BO didn’t have time for His Holiness last October, but now that the WH wants a street fight with China.. Guess that makes sense.

    • China playing footsie with Iran.

      In addition to awarding concessions to China, on February 8 Tehran invited Beijing to take the place of India in one of the most contentious energy projects in South Asia: the Iran-Pakistan-India or “Peace” natural gas pipeline.

    • Biological essentialism…FAIL!

      How about we should have equal representation because it’s fair or it’s the right thing to do, rather than because our girly bits make us all empathetic and shit? *rolls eyes*

      • Yes, that problem was always there with his statement. What if we were to remove the word “biologically,” would his sentiment still be invalid. Recognition of any differences in gender dispositions is culturally corrupt. Or would it be more accurate to say, generalizing and stereotyping people about anything indicates a lazy mind. Help me out.

    • Naw, at the time the first meeting was post-poned, it was reported that the timing would be better for their meeting to be now and it was because of the schedule for the POTUS’ trip to China.

      I have heard that being in a room with the Dalai Lama leaves no question that you are in the presence of true greatness. I feel a great wave of peace just looking at photos of him, myself.

    • Oh, how could anyone not love the Dalai Lama. Unless you were a egotistical paranoid dictator, that is.

  10. NY Times:

    WASHINGTON — President Obama will put forward comprehensive health care legislation intended to bridge differences between Senate and House Democrats ahead of a summit meeting with Republicans next week, senior administration officials and Congressional aides said Thursday.

    […]

    “It will be a reconciliation bill,” one Democratic aide said. “If Republicans don’t come with any substantial offers, this is what we would do.”

    Officials said that the White House would post the president’s plan on the Internet by Monday morning. But even as Mr. Obama tries to unite his party behind a single plan, it is unclear that Democrats can muster the needed votes in the House and the Senate given the tense political climate of a midterm election year.

    […]

    Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said the president would “take some of the best ideas” from the House and the Senate and “put them into a framework.”

    “There will be one proposal,” Ms. Sebelius said.

    The president’s plan would require most Americans to obtain health insurance or face financial penalties; it would bar insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions, and it would give tax subsidies to help moderate-income people buy private insurance.

    Officials said the president’s bill was expected to include a version of the Senate’s proposed tax on high-cost, employer-sponsored insurance policies. It would reflect a deal reached with labor union leaders to limit the impact of the tax on workers.

    More recently, some labor officials have expressed dissatisfaction with that deal, and many House Democrats remain opposed to the excise tax.

    Democrats said it was still unclear how the president would deal with other disagreements, including the issue of insurance coverage for abortions.

    Abortion remains “a wild card,” said a Democrat on Capitol Hill.

    Sounds like just another Manic Monday, just another bogus bill to read online.

    • Whoops, must have messed up the tags. That last part:

      Sounds like just another Manic Monday, just another bogus bill to read online.

      was my comment.

    • I like the Olympics better than kabuki.

    • For a moment, thought the Times had developed a personality. Then figured it was you Wonk. Seriously, it is so kabuki isn’t it, headache inducing stuff. 🙂

      I used to enjoy live kabuki in Japan. Strangely beautiful hypnotic opera. I believe we mean bunraku, Japanese puppet theatre..related, when we say kabuki in the political sense. We’ve appropriated the term kabuki and that’s cool, just as the Japanese love to appropriate and retool English words with their own meaning. Anywho, here’s some kabuki.

      • Oh wow–that was cool. 🙂 I felt like I was listening to Basho or something. I’ll try to remember Bunraku, but I have a horrible memory, so no guarantees there. 🙂

    • So, basically—with a little luck dealing with his own recalcitrant Dems—-Obama’s “summit” promising inclusion of all , will present a fait-accompli settled behind close doors.

      Take it or leave it, he’ll say, even though even the liberals on this board hate the Senate Bill.

      And then Plouffe will run with it as Repubs or libs-for-public-option being “uncooperative.”

      F’g rookies.

  11. Actually, the failure of NBCU started looooooooong before the merger with Comcast. It’s a classic story of EPIC FAIL by a CEO and his MBA cronies. Jeff Zucker has taken NBC from first place as a network, with juggernauts like Friends, Seinfeld and ER, to dead last.

    In the industry, NBC is a running joke. Zucker, one of the highest paid CEOs–who continues to get raises and huge bonuses despite dismal ratings–hired one Ben Silverman, a coked up frat boy with lots of wealthy connections as the head programmer. Yet another bloke with NO EXPERIENCE that got his job because the powers that be bought his ability to suck up and self-promote. His qualifications were taking shows that were hits in other countries and stealing them (yes, stealing, as in not paying the original creators and producers) and selling them to American networks, such as The Office and Ugly Betty. What a genius!! But he was often times too coked up or MIA to make it to meetings or perform his job. He was partying so hard in Beijing, he didn’t make it home for the launch of NBC’s Fall Season so you had multi-million dollar flops such as My Own Worst Enemy and Kings. But he didn’t get fired…

    Add to this The Tonight Show fiasco where they lost tons of $$ and had to pay Conan over $40 million dollars to leave. These are the brainiacs running the show. These dick-swinging Peter Pans think they’re the movers and shakers in town. Remind you of a certain administration? It’s no accident that Obama’s favorite show is Entourage. Ari Gold, the evil, tantrum-throwing agent, is modeled after none other than Rahm’s brother Ari Emmanuel, the most notorious agent in Hollywood (and the most powerful, but he’s currently sinking his own ship). Bet Barrack and Co. sit down with some beers after a mad game of hoops and watch themselves on teevee.

    NBC and most notably MSNBC started losing so much money, the shareholders revolted at an open meeting. So GE is selling off this company because it’s a money pit pure and simple. They let Zucker and Silver run the show and they ran it into the ground. Silverman’s gone, but odds in Vegas say that after the transition to Comcast Zucker will be the first to go and if there is any justice in the universe, the cutthroat lawyers will find a way to cut loose what must be his massive golden parachute.

    And for the record, it’s not the merger that brings terror to the hearts of executives. Studios are the most dysfunctional companies on the planet. Trying to apply logic or reason to their decisions is completely futile. There is absolutely NO job security in Hollywood. Because it takes no discernible skills or talent to be a studio executive, every one lives in constant fear of losing their job. The turnover is completely high. Most likely, the people in charge of the Olympics coverage have been replaced at least 3 times. It is the singular reason all decisions are made and explains why 99% of movies and TV shows absolutely suck. Quality aint got nuthin to do with it.

    • While I agree that Zucker must go, I’m not so certain that merging with Comcast is going to be an improvement.
      The whole thing smacks of a big, kludgy operation that is run by a marketing department that will cater to the average viewer, probably my neighbors who I can’t stand. Think SUVs, spoiled children, conformity. Nothing ground breaking. Nothing that will shake up the nervous system. It will be endless pablum programming, easily delivered for your convenience. You’ll get on their delivery superhighway and it will be full of standard programming like chain restaurants. You’ll never know about the little Mexican place around the corner with the fantastic roasted pumpkin seed moles. No, instead, you will get all the Applebees and Olive Gardens you can eat.
      Count me out.

      • Your reply made me think of a an idea for you. How about a piece where you and your great responders mention their favorite places to eat where they live or travel. We all have some places we love and with GPS gadgets, we can go to these places when we travel there very easily. It could be saved in a prominent place and we could add to it if we find a gem. That little Mexican place sounds wonderful, and if an address were included, we could go there if we were in that city.

  12. Oh dear, I no longer get NBC reception since the digital switch. I’m so out of it. Do not care. What possible benefit would I get from watching their “special” programming. Ha. I try to stay informed, but msm decided to cut me loose. What’s a girl to do? Fork over $50 bucks or more per month for crap? I think not.

    I don’t really miss the phony peacock all that much. I have my very own backyard hawk.

  13. David Brooks is nostalgic for the days of wasp elitism.

  14. A man jumps to his death and people — laugh?

    But this is only part of the story. According to the SF Examiner, a large crowd watched as the man contemplated his demise. Some people tweeted about it. Even more horrifying, others encouraged him to jump,

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/scavenger/category?blogid=111&cat=2922#ixzz0fz4tmwAy

    A friend told me about this last night and was quite upset about it (as I had not heard about it). Are we as a society in danger of losing our humanity?

  15. A man jumps to his death and people — laugh?

    But this is only part of the story. According to the SF Examiner, a large crowd watched as the man contemplated his demise. Some people tweeted about it. Even more horrifying, others encouraged him to jump,

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/scavenger/category?blogid=111&cat=2922#ixzz0fz4tmwAy

    A friend told me about this last night and was quite upset about it (as I had not heard about it). Are we as a society in danger of losing our humanity? 😦

  16. “Are we as a society in danger of losing our humanity?” No. to the extent that we’re in “danger of losing our humanity” we’ve been losing it for a long time. The phenomenon of people encouraging jumpers to jump has been around for a while. I don’t get what makes people so heartless, but it’s nothing new.

    P.S. Good morning

  17. Lindsey Vonn’s shin was driving me freaking crazy. It seemed like it was NBC’s only fall back coverage.

    I agree that media merger mania is the culprit. This is what you get with your diminishing choices with corporate mega-mergers.

    You repubs and neocons need out there to understand that his is not good capitalism and free enterprise. You have to have viable and robust regulation to protect the level playing field and the American Middle Class. That would be a real conservative value for you to stand by.

    Dumping thousands of people on the street in the worst economy since the 1930’s is reason enough to kill the deal. Why not a freeze of all such mergers and monopolies during this State of Emergency. We do have laws already in place.

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