Weak Finish: NBC Under Fire For Closing Ceremony Coverage

I generally thought the NBC coverage of the Olympics was pretty good and I like Bob Costas as the central host — even though many objected to the delay in showing events to maximize NBC’s audience during the games. However, the goodwill almost evaporated in watching the coverage of the closing ceremonies. As I tweeted last night, I found it really irritating to have to listen to Seacrest and others talk over the music to add predictable and sometimes vapid comments. It appears I was not alone with critics piling on NBC on social media sites.

For many the most upsetting moment came when NBC cut away early to air a new television show,”Animal Practice.” That meant cutting out Ray Davies, Kate Bush, The Who and Muse in favor of an incredibly silly sitcom. NBC was given this contract with the understanding that it was responsible for sharing the games with the world — a responsibility that was supposed to temper the profit-maximizing inclinations of executives. It clearly failed to do so last night.

For me, the coverage was remarkably bad from both a technical and an artistic standpoint. The sound was not good and uneven. Cameras often caught their own crew moving in the frame or chose angles that denied the viewer an optimal view of the action. More importantly, NBC elected to cut away repeatedly to athletes screaming into the camera. It denied the viewers the chance to enjoy the artistic value of the show and create incongruous moments of athletes yelling into the camera at moving or powerful moments in the performance. This is a celebration of the achievement of the athletes but it is also a world event. I do not blame the athletes for such moments but I fail to understand why it was necessary in the midst of key moments or songs to add screaming athletes biting their medals or piling on each other. It not only denied the viewers a chance to experience the impressive ceremony but denied the organizers the opportunity to show their extraordinary creation with a semblance of continuity.

Then there was the constant talking of the anchors over the performers to add obvious or inane thoughts. Just was the show was unfolding into an amazing display, Costas proclaimed the Ryan Seacrest was here to explain it all. It was bizarre. There seemed to be an inability for anchors to allow the viewers to simply watch the event and insisted on arranging the ceremony around its own celebrities and their stream of conscious thoughts.

Cutting up the ceremony and then breaking off to show the sitcom was a betrayal of the trust given to NBC. I say this is great reluctance because I thought the network did a fantastic job in offering expert commentary during the competition and getting wonderful shots of the action. It was a stellar performance tarnished by the final ceremony. Of course, many of the athletes could have warned NBC that many of top performers were undone by a weak finish.

What did you think?

39 thoughts on “Weak Finish: NBC Under Fire For Closing Ceremony Coverage”

  1. I agree things could have been better; but, it was the only game in town. I am a person who will never, ever see an Olympics in person. And, that is why I like TV. There are many things that I would never had experienced in my life without TV. Such as Secretariat winning the Triple Crown, the New York Yankees, Peggy Fleming, France as seen by the bikers in the Tour de France. And, Alastair Cook on many Masterpiece Theaters, the Boston Pops live on July 4 playing Tshchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, the Army-McCarthy hearings (my Dad watched them), the Watergate hearings, many World Series games including Don Larsen’s no hitter, etc. The commentary was not good as seen in ABC’s coverages of many Olympics; but, it was still better than nothing in my book. The best were surprises from the women’s gymnastics team, the men’s and women’s track teams, the American diver who won gold, and Usain Bolt’s three gold medals. There countries who won the first medals for their countries ever AND the US sent more women athletes than men. Cool.

  2. I was lucky enough to watch the opening on the live BBC feed. No comparison to the NBC version- which cut out key performances and cut the directors vision into an unintelligible mash. The opening was a radical art piece- really radical- so much so that I was amazed it got approval.

    I had to try and watch the closing on NBC. It was terrible, awful. The comments by the ‘hosts’ were an absolute embarrassment.

  3. ID707, I grew up on Topsail Island. Went to Topsail High. Go Pirates.RAH RAH! It was a lovely place to grow up in the 60s and 70s. It was a sweet tacky little fishing villiage. With some weekenders and a few vacationers. (I lived in Surf City) We danced a dance called the shag to beach music which is not at all like California Beach music. I’m sure you must be familiar with the Shag and NC/SC style beach music, Being from Raleigh.
    The beach is not what it used to be. Now it is covered with multi-million dollar houses built by people with much more money than sense. These garish Architectural Wonders are placed on the ocean side (after all who wants to spend millions of dollars for a place to come several weeks out of the year and not have it right on the ocean).They slam them so close to each other you have to turn sideways to walk between them.(Years ago there were laws that spacing between houses had to be a certain distance apart and I estimate the distance to be 25 feet and the houses had to be raised on pilons to allow water to wash beneath them in unusually high tides and to allow for the growth of sea grasses.Helped keep down erosion) but you know if we put the houses very close to each other we can have more houses.These houses are beautiful from ground to the top third story and some of them are even made of brick!(Crows with laughter) Ever seen a 3 story brick house on the dunes right after a cat 4 hurricane?? But they are rich and can get insurance and then the state jumps in and helps them which means that I have to help a millionaire who built a garish Architectural Wonder so he would have a place to go a coupl of weekends a year. OK I am a little bitter but it was once the most beautiful place on earth.
    The Hansome Hippo was my escort to the very last of the very best of the Victorian balls ever held. But always remember there are drawbacks to having THE Handsome Hippo as your escort. Yes you are right, jealousy. The other ladies at the ball were so catty, Trying to get a dance with him. So light on his feet. So charming.

  4. I thought it was great that Tom Brokaw got to do an hour long segment called Remembering My Book.

  5. How about this format for an individual Olympic Event (Uneven bars)

    Announcer: “Jane Doe representing Bolivia will now begin her performance.”

    // Jane steps to the bars, begins and later completes her event.”

    Announcer: “A superb performance, good concentration, performed the xyz movement in fine form. There was some concern of risking the xyz due to its difficulty but she came through and a flawless dismount….The judges have now rendered her score…9.8 and that puts her into the bronze medal range…..next up is …”

  6. Jo,

    Don’t know if you are right. We don’t get him in Sweden, but in general I support women.

    I’m from Raleigh, left in ’59. My niece was here a week ago. Nice.
    Who’s your hippo friend. Cute dress you were wearing.
    Retro, huh? So, where do you beach? Topsail?

  7. Matt,

    What makes you só slow? Thanks for the compliment.
    Looking for me to tell you to sober up. And I know you don’t drink, but I’ve said it before,and you promised to stop getting inebriated on your own personality kicks. Be a good boy now.

  8. I can’t stand to ever hear Ryan Seacrest. To ever see him. But he is now THE host.. And as far as talking over the music and ceremony it has become customary for all networks to have their comercials for their upcoming shows to roll over the closing credits of every show. If I was the Best Boy or catering by Helena’s I’d be kinda pissed. But Seacrest has become the king of inane comments…. and when you have the IQ of a gnat stating the obvious is often quite a feat..
    As for the new reality show who can’t wait to see Kim Kardashian run around in a cammo bikini top and cammo daisy dukes with a buff drill instructor type as she breaks a nail on an obstacle course,…. Hey maybe she’ll even marry one of her drill instructors or even two.!

  9. For events like the Olympics I always watch them on the Spanish speaking channels. I don’t understand Spanish but they don’t talk during events or ceremonies and it’s actually quite enjoyable again. All my foreign friends agree: “Americans just don’t know when to shut up”.

  10. NBC? what’s that. i and others here in Sweden watched the bits selected by out TV channels from feeds from somewhere (NBC) with swedish commentary.
    Our guys are OK, can be quiet, do not do tricks to compete, and the 3 or 4 hour segments run without interruption. We have no commercials on our subscription channel where this was shown.

    Jingoism, you say. Agreed, I did not see your version.

    Only American wins shown? Same thing. We saw our medal chanses too. As could all nations purchasing it from NBC could select and show I presume.

    As for ceremonies, nothing will go up against a shaking Mohammad Ali lighting the torch, unless it would have been John Lennon lighting this one.

    The worst opening ceremony: the one in LA when the guy rode in on his spaceman “rocket”-driven transporter in the air.

    The best: Norway’s winter olympics which captured nordic cultural history seen by the common people.
    A visit to the heart of Scandinavia.

    See you at the next Olympics, if we all survive and the bombs don’t drop and the folk don’t rise in revolt.

  11. I was in Canada for most of the Olympics, and able to watch real time events without the inane and jingoistic commentary which usually spews out of the U.S. based coverage.
    Back in N.Y., I only waited for the closing ceremonies to see Ray Davies and the Who. Waited through three hours of cheesy theatrics, garish productions and third-rate acts (a boy band, Spice “Girls,” and fashion models??? C’mon!,) only to be told at the last minute that the Who would
    be seen after yet another hour of brain-dead programming.
    By then, I as too tired, and way too furious, to give NBC any more of my time.
    Who was responsible for this? Names should be named. And effusive apologies should be made.

  12. Guess I lucked out. No TV. Couldn’t find what I wanted to watch on NBC.com ho, hum.

  13. after seeing a network quick take of The Who I was wondering if I fell asleep and missed it. Now I know that we were all betrayed. Oh well. NBD in the long run. I did perceive that these talking heads were strangely quiet during the Brazilian section of the ceremonies. Great but the sound was not up to par to hear them. Plus, the “entertainers” generally were facing away from the cameras. Romney was right to say that a little improvement was needed. HA!

  14. When I was in the Navy, right after boot camp, I was on roving patrol. There were a bunch of boots (just got off the bus). Still in civilian clothes. I had a steel helmet, steel toed boots and a nightstick.


    They thought they were going to play animal planet. I kicked their asses.

Comments are closed.