NBC Deliberately Ends Olympics Opening Ceremonies After Midnight

Rio 2016 Opening Ceremonies

The Rio 2016 Olympic opening ceremonies were a visual beauty. Colorful, playful, musically uplifting, with a vibrancy belying the tumultuous time in Brazil leading up to the Games.

I can’t remember a more enchanting opening ceremony.

Sadly, most young children in America won’t remember it and neither will many adults. NBC’s decision to tape delay the ceremony over an hour meant that on the east coast coverage ended at 12:30 am. Central time ended at 11:30 pm. NBC decided to tape delay the West Coast and Mountain zone a full four hours so those people also had the 12:30 am finishing time. The only people in America seeing the mesmerizing cauldron lighting before midnight were in the central time zone.

2016 Rio Olympic cauldron

Why NBC? Your decision as described in Business Insider was stunningly misogynistic. John Miller, Chief Marketing Officer for NBC was quoted commenting that most women watching the Olympics don’t much care about the actual games but are more interested in the journey than the results.

NBC, you might want to have Miller take a class on women in the 21st century.

The thing that bothered me the most was children essentially being shut out of the pageantry.

I’ve been a great fan of the Olympics my entire life. Mexico City in 1968 were my introduction to the Games. Six years old and I still remember watching as it was yesterday. Over the years the opening ceremony has been one of my favorite things to watch. A time of color, music, history of the host nation, and athletes walking in with smiles and laughter instead of warring and bickering. Countries hostile to each other at the UN finding a way to march together without politics getting in the way.

I get it. Not everyone is me and not every kid cares about the Olympics. But tape delaying (and tape delaying the online streaming version as well) ensured a much smaller audience than had it aired live as it was in Canada and the UK. How can you build a present and future audience (those very kids shooed off to bed an hour or two into the four and a half hour production) if they don’t build a memory bank of caring?

I was seeing pictures on my Twitter stream long before NBC aired each sequence. Everyone is connected now. This isn’t the 1970’s where the technology wasn’t in the hands of the viewer to obtain instant information. Thousands of photos were popping up all over social media ahead of NBC.

Tonga Guy became an internet sensation before NBC showed him carrying the Tongan flag in.

Tonga Guy — the face and body of the Olympics

NBC, if you really felt the need to tape delay how about a real-time feed online bereft of commentators if they were in fact not providing live commentary. A raw feed with commercials in a corner of the screen perhaps. After listening to the insipid commentary from the Today Show gang (did they get paid extra each time they used the word party?) that idea might have been useful.

This situation is not new. Super Bowls, World Series, and NBA Finals long ago moved to late start times for commercial purposes at the expense of children. With the Olympics in close proximity to U.S. time zones for the first time since the 1996 games in Atlanta, NBC as the main TV rights holder, surely could have planned the timing of the opening ceremonies better.

Give your viewers options.


Follow me on Twitter at @barraford

Email me at jamesbarraford@gmail.com