NBC got its share of grief in its coverage of the 2012 Summer Games. You can partially blame the hours-long time difference between here and the UK. With the interwebs and various cable channels streaming the games during the day, it had to be tough not to let winners be announced before NBC’s prime time coverage.
(Granted, in their not defense, it wasn’t the best of choices to annnounce Missy Franklin’s gold medal-winning race during an NBC “Today” show ad hours before the prime time coverage of the event.)
But it was NBC’s editing selections that received the most criticism. It started with the opening ceremony, when a tribute to victims of the 2005 London terrorist attacks was edited out of the U.S. broadcast, to the games themselves, which was knocked as being weighted towards higher-profile events and U.S. gold wins. Last Sunday’s closing ceremonies with a salute to British pop music, earned NBC the most flack.
Highlights included a chorus of children singing (and signing) “Imagine” accompanied by a video tribute to John Lennon. Madness playing their ’80s classic “Our House”. The Spice Girls reunited and played two of their hits. Queen’s Brian May ripped through the intro to “Brighton Rock”, then joined Queen drummer Roger Taylor and English singer JesseJ for stadium staple “We Will Rock You”.
I wondered why my hero Ray Davies of The Kinks was nowhere to be found. I learned the next morning that Ray wowed the crowd with a sing-along of “Waterloo Sunset”, but it was cut from NBC’s broadcast. (Wha? Huh?) Good thing there’s YouTube. (In the clip above, Ray arrives in a black London cab at the 1:20 mark.) Everybody now, “Sha-la-la…”
NBC also cut the band Muse (who’s song “Survival” was the theme of the 2012 games) and Kate Bush (a big name in England who never quite broke here…she’s awesome, and I still have her stuff on vinyl.) But NBC’s biggest gaff was reshuffling the actual chronology of the end of the closing ceremonies, showing the passing of the Olympic flag and the dowsing of the torch, then giving this copy to Bob Costas to read this off the teleprompter:
“We’ll be right back with The Who. But first, here’s a horrid new sitcom called “Animal Hospital.”
No, Costas didn’t say “horrid,” but it was bad…at least as much of it as I watched. Note that I didn’t include a hyperlink to the show.
In NBC’s defense, cramming a day’s worth of events into four to five hours of prime time has to be a challenge. Still, force-feeding viewers a TV pilot before we get to watch The Who is just cruel. NBC has no complaints. Their broadcast was the most-watched in TV history.
And I’m planning to watch the 2016 games on my computer.