NBC’s exec producer defends tape-delay strategy; surprised by strong ratings for Olympics

Jim Bell, NBC’s executive producer for the Olympics, appeared on Chris Russo’s afternoon show on Mad Dog Radio Tuesday.

Here are the highlights.

On the strong ratings:

Bell: They are well above what we had expected. Those expectations were largely based on the Athens Olympics, which were the last European-based Olympics, which is a situation where you know you’re going to be taping things to air them in primetime because it’s obviously in the middle of the night [in Europe] during primetime in the United States. And in Beijing, as you know, we had just the incredible advantage of showing all those great swimming races and some of the gymnastics live because the time difference was so extreme. And so we thought if we can kind of keep it where we did in Athens that’s going to be a big … Continue Reading

Twitter apologizes; reactivates NBC critic’s account

The Olympics causes you to do strange things. I never thought I’d write this much about Guy Adams (or Guy Lewis as I originally called him before making a quick correction; remember the old Houston hoops coach?)

Anyway, we all can breath a sigh of relief because Lewis, er Adams, is back on Twitter. His account has been reinstated. It had been taken down after he posted the email address of an NBC executive. Adams has been critical of NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.

I felt Adams stepped over the line by posting the email address. However, Twitter General Counsel Alex Macgillivray did a post explaining it was wrong to suspend Adams’ account. It seems Twitter personnel encouraged NBC to file a report, a no-no.

He writes:

We’ve seen a lot of commentary about whether we should have considered a

Continue Reading

Doug Gottlieb jumps to CBS; Will anchor afternoon show for new radio network

Doug Gottlieb now will be one of the key players for the new CBS Radio Network.

CBS has lured Gottlieb away from ESPN with a package that includes his own 3-6 p.m. (ET) radio show. The network debuts on Jan. 2.

From Gottlieb’s perspective, he got other terrific goodies, such as working college basketball and the NCAA tournament as a game and studio analyst for CBS. He’s also going to be a show on the CBS Sports Network.

However, the radio component is the big one for CBS. A statement from Dan Mason, president and CEO of CBS Radio, was listed first in the release. He said:

“This is the first of many prominent personalities we will be adding to the CBS Sports Radio lineup,” said Mason.  “Doug is well-versed in today’s sports landscape and for years has entertained audiences

Continue Reading

Olympics-sized goofs: Today promo spoils Franklin race; NBC right to file Twitter complaint

What happened prior to the Missy Franklin race during primetime was a goof of Olympic sized proportions.

From Richard Sandomir of the New York Times:

As viewers waited to see her in the 100-meter backstroke final, NBC carried a promo for the “Today” show that said: “When you’re 17 years old and win your first gold medal, there’s nobody you’d rather share it with. We’re there when Missy Franklin and her parents reunite. A`Today’ exclusive.” The promo showed her holding her gold medal in the backstroke and embracing her parents. The result known—again, this was on tape so news of her victory was available for hours to whoever wanted to check—NBC returned from a commercial break and Dan Hicks said: “Missy Franklin just moments away from her first Olympic final.”

Really, how does this happen at a major network during … Continue Reading

Stop complaining: NBC tape-delay strategy delivers huge ratings

Here are a couple things you need to know: NBC does not operate as a not-for-profit. And a large portion of the massive Olympics audience is made up of non-traditional sports viewers who could care less about watching tape delay in prime time.

So go ahead and complain all you want about NBC saving the best stuff for primetime during the Olympics. While you whine, NBC is laughing all the way to the ratings bank.

Nothing validates NBC’s tape-delay strategy more than the huge ratings for its primetime coverage. The network is breaking all sorts of records.

From NBC:

Through the first three nights of the London Olympics, NBC is averaging 35.8 million viewers, the best through the first weekend for any Summer Olympics in history (since the 1960 Rome Olympics, the first televised Olympics), 1.4 million more than the

Continue Reading

Technical glitches from NBCOlympics.com shouldn’t be unexpected

My friend, Ira, who has way too much time on his hands, was watching Michael Phelps compete in a heat Monday afternoon on his cell phone, a Samsung Galaxy S2. As the race was about 10 yards from the finish, the screen went blank. A message then appeared: “Exit app. Start over.”

Ira was ticked off. “It could have at least let me watch the end of the race,” he said.

Ira, though, has a computer background. He’s not surprised.

Clearly, the technology isn’t there yet to support such a massive on-line extravaganza at NBCOlympics.com. Unlike television, there still are too many variables when it comes to Internet providers, mobile devices, individual computers, etc. It all adds up to plenty of room for error.

My computer seized up on me Sunday morning. I never got to watch the end … Continue Reading

Illinois fans might boycott; ESPN adds Pearl to GameDay

I know some of my fellow Illinois fans likely will tune out ESPN’s College GameDay show for basketball this year. The network just hired Bruce Pearl to be one of its analysts.

Even though it’s been more than 20 years, the folks in Champaign haven’t forgotten how Pearl got the Illini in major hot water with the NCAA. Then an assistant coach at Iowa, he accused Illinois of offering $80,000 and a Chevy Blazer to sign Chicago high school star Deon Thomas. The NCAA never found Illinois guilty of the charge, but it still slammed the program with penalties.

I covered the messy story for the Chicago Tribune, and it was one of the more interesting years of my career.

Much has happened since then. Pearl went on to have considerable success before he ran into his own NCAA problems … Continue Reading

Going into a media bubble to watch NBC tape-delay; can’t do it for remainder of Olympics

I made the decision Sunday afternoon. I wanted to watch the Olympics in primetime without knowing the results of the big swimming races.

So I literally went into a media-proof bubble. Twitter definitely was out. I sent out a tweet apologizing to my thousands (tens?) of followers, who hang on my every word. No classic 140-character gems from me for the remainder of the day.

ESPN? Nope. I definitely would find out the results via the ever-present crawl. Obviously, I stayed away from the Internet.

I even carefully avoided the television at the bar when I picked up carryout at P.F. Chang’s.

Ultimately, I watched the men’s relay and other swimming races as if they were airing live. And I enjoyed NBC’s tape-delay telecast.

But I can’t do this every night. That’s the difference with the concept of tape-delay now … Continue Reading

Newspaper Olympics coverage varies: Philly papers cut back; LA Times, USA Today all-in

Special Report:

Staffing the Olympics used to be a no-brainer for major newspapers. The Games are a major worldwide event and you air-mail as many reporters as possible.

I was among 15 staffers for the Chicago Tribune during the 2000 Games in Sydney.

Obviously, times, priorities, and most importantly, economics have changed. It’s no longer automatic to send an army of staffers to cover an Olympics.

In fact, the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer initially decided skip the trip to London. They returned the five credentials issued to the papers. However, at the last minute, the editors decided to send Phil Sheridan.

Said Josh Barnett, executive sports editor for the Philadelphia Daily News on the overall decision: “It’s exclusively a financial decision. It’s a significant commitment (to staff an Olympics). With dwindling resources, you have to make decision of … Continue Reading

Schieffer can’t believe Ganim is 24; Face the Nation tackles Penn State

Interesting discussion regarding Penn State today on Face the Nation. Here’s the transcript:

Bob Schieffer:  And joining me now to talk about this situation and the impact it’s had on football in general and, kind of, the state of sports in America, Sara Ganim, who is a CNN contributor. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her work for the Harrisburg Patriot-News” on the Sandusky scandal. Sara, you are how old?

Sara Ganim: Twenty-four..


Bob Schieffer: And you’ve already got a Pulitzer. All right. Bill Rhoden is a sports columnist for the New York Times. Buzz Bissinger is a contributor for Newsweek and “The Daily Beast.” He wrote “Friday Night Lights,” one of the best books about football ever written. And our own James Brown, who’s here at the table with me; and out in Los Angeles, Jim Rome, … Continue Reading