Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Curling? Really?



Definitely a sport (scoring involved)
Lots of strategy
Casual people can actually play it
Slower pace allows explanation of strategy


Unfamiliar to many Americans
Ruined by commercials

Wait, what? Ruined?

Yes. NBC is making the same mistake that networks made with soccer for 20-30 years in the US, repeatedly killing its televised popularity as participation in the sport soared. (This would be akin to buying a home above list price these days.) Just as ESPN tried to force soccer into their standard sporting template during the World Cup and got bashed repeatedly for ignoring live action, NBC cuts away from live play to show commercials in the middle of an end, usually not even bothering to show the shots you missed while they were away. The stranger part is that they'll come back from commercial after the 5th end (the halfway point), then cut to commercials again, then miss the first couple of rocks in the 6th.

If you want to increase the popularity of a sport on television, you have to show it in a manner that supports the sport. NBC, of course, is the network least capable of doing this on the planet, and thus we get the exact opposite.

Look, more people in the US are going to be watching the Olympics right now than would watch all of the individual sports combined during the years in between. Now is the chance to teach people about it ... show something like Canada vs. Great Britain, so you've got skilled teams with the crowd reacting to each shot, and show the whole thing. Talk about strategy, scoring, everything. Get people involved. And instead of burying your snout even deeper in the trough of advertising money, lift your piggy head, take a deep breath, and let the sport speak for itself. We've already seen the same commercials 20 times over anyway: the Olympics are just like all other televised sports in that you get the same commercials over and over again, except there are so many days that the commercial overkill happens after a day or two instead of weeks.

It makes me sad. There are people at NBC who are responsible for nothing other than sports coverage, and they're obviously so bad at their jobs that trained monkeys would be offended if asked to replicate the work. Yet they are still employed. Dear NBC, hire me at half what they're making, and I'll make your sports coverage ten times better.

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