Enjoying the Olympics? More specifically, are you enjoying the TV coverage being provided to you? You should be. NBC is bringing an unprecedented level of variety to its coverage of the 2012 Games, and for the sports-minded among you, it should feel like manna that’s fallen from heaven.
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Not surprisingly, NBC is running expected coverage of events on NBC network and NBC Sports (formerly Versus), its sports affiliate. But they’ve taken it much further. Cable news outlets MSNBC and CNBC have also been running nearly round the clock broadcasts of Olympic events, and even Bravo Channel has been carrying the Games. Never before have so many different events been available to viewers all at once. Moreover, NBC has had the luxury of showing some events in which the USA is not participating, introducing superstars in other countries to its audience.
As a result, I’ve had a chance to watch extended coverage of some sports I never or rarely watch, and if you’re smart, you won’t simply tune in to the primetime feed on the main network channel to watch the opening ceremonies (they were great by the way), tape delayed gymnastics, swimming and basketball. Over the weekend, I watched a plucky pair of synchronized divers from the US, Abby Johnston and Kelci Bryant, hold off the Canadian and Italian teams to secure a silver medal, an unqualified win for them in an event completely dominated by the Chinese. I also watched the women’s 400 meter freestyle, an 8 lap marathon that saw Camille Muffat of France hold off a furious run by American Allison Schmitt to win a gold medal. In that same race, English folk-hero Rebecca Adlington, a surprise gold medalist in 2008, made a tremendous late charge to finish 3rd and win a bronze, to the delight of the home town crowd.
I also thrilled to a women’s volleyball match between the USA and Brazil, two of the powerhouse teams in the world, and I’ve got to tell you, while some people may be partial to beach volleyball, the indoor sport features such amazing teamwork and athleticism I could not take my eyes off the screen. Those front line girls were leaping so high in the air I could have been watching an NBA (yes, NBA, not WNBA) game. I also watched kayaking, a sport that I perceive to be unbelievably difficult, which probably explains why none of the contestants yelled “wheeeeee” when they came to the water-slide like drops in the course, which resembled the white-water rafting ride at Hershey Park.
Tell me this doesn’t look fun
I didn’t necessarily dig every event I watched, of course. Badminton, while very interesting to see being played at a competitive olympic level, didn’t hold my interest for the length of the match. Field hockey, while easy to follow, felt too much like soccer only hunched over and slowed down, so I probably won’t tune in for that again. And of course, I watched plenty of “crowd favorite” events like gymnastics, basketball, boxing and cycling, but the point is I watched all of these things. Not just 20 seconds of highlights – the actual events. Kudos to NBC for making it so easy to do so.