My first Olympics away from home

Before I get going, I must say in the interest of full disclosure, I LOVE THE OLYMPICS.  I love everything about them: the sports, the athletes, the outfits, the cheesy commentary, the tear-at-your-heartstrings features, the commercials…literally everything.  But, for the interest of a blog about TV, I am going to focus (as much as possible) on the television aspects of the Olympics and the overall viewing experience.

One of the big differences that experience this year, more so than ever before, is the proliferation of streaming internet video.  I have to say it makes it so much easier for someone who does not have an actual TV set to stay connected, and it also gives quite a bit of choice on what to watch. Obviously the jury is still out on how effective it will be, but it definitely adds a new dimension to the event.

For me most importantly, this is the first time I will ever watch the Olympics from a different location than the United States. Here in London all the coverage is from the BBC–and there is a great deal of it–especially since London will be the host in four years. The city (and country) definitely have Olympic fever. As eager as I am to see the Olympics from a different perspective, I will cop to the things I will miss: the NBC Olympic theme, Bob Costas, and the Chevy Olympic Moment they do every night.  What I won’t miss–the blatant focus on American athletes at the expense of other interesting people from around the world.

So, on to my thoughts, which is mainly a comparison of what I am used to and what I see now. The first major difference so far is that the main coverage is shown between 2 pm and 6 pm each day.  I’ve been trying to work out why this is done, but I haven’t figured it out.  I thought it was maybe so events could be shown live, but I think China is 8 hours ahead of London, so I don’t think that is why.  Since I don’t know when the coverage has traditionally been shown in the past I’m not sure if this is typical or not. What I do know is how unusual it is for me!  I am used to the U.S.-style of coverage where all things important are shown in prime time.  Lucky for me I am able to watch the coverage (for the most part) during the day, but I think I would be quite frustrated if I was working full-time.  Then again, if this is how it has always been done, other people probably don’t give it a second thought.

When watching the Opening Ceremony  the coverage was pretty similar to what I am used to, with the major exception being the British accents (don’t you know the Olympics are being held in Chiner?). Though Michael Johnson, he of the 1996 Olympics, Nike golden shoes, and two gold medals in the 200m and 400m, is a commentator so I did get an American accent fix.  Also, I think I was sort of expecting there to be a heavy concentration on Great Britain and its athletes, but not so much. Of course during the Parade of Nations there were quite a bit of discussion on the team, but there was also as much discussion about President Bush. Granted this is a very controversial Olympics, but still it constantly amazes me how often American culture, politics, and people are mentioned in international broadcasts.  I’m not sure this is entirely a good thing, and sadly, our coverage never reciprocates. I mean seriously, can you imagine the U.S. coverage having a British person on the commentating team talking about all the British athletes and their chances. No? Me either.

The other major difference I noticed, thus far, is the absence of the “special features” so to speak.  We are all aware of those Olympic Moments (the ones I love) and how they are designed to make you cry.  Or manipulate you, depending on your perspective and willingness to cry. And how you can’t really get through an entire night of coverage without at least two of these stories. I didn’t see a single one of those in the 4+ hours of coverage I saw.   But, I am actually totally okay with that.  It doesn’t seem like a very British thing to do, and my tear ducts will enjoy taking some time off.

What I am excited for is the chance to see athletes that aren’t American participate in events. I have already seen more gymnastics coverage of British athletes in a short 6 minute video than I probably have seen in all of my other Olympic gymnastics viewing; and believe me I have spent many (many) hours watching Olympic gymnastics.  I am excited to hear different commentary and different points of view and hear different anthems.

As the coverage goes on I will try and talk about the similarities and differences some more and let you know if anything else exciting happens, by way of the TV.  So please enjoy the Olympics! I know I will.

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1 Comment

  1. The Olympics, NBC Style or How to be Thoroughly Annoyed When Watching the Olympics « OneGirlInLoveWithTV

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