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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

An Olympian Black Out

The Olympics have just concluded. NBC did its usual corporate type broadcasting. To me, that means there was a plethora of taped, pre-programed events in five and ten minute blocks. Media darlings were created before the games began and many of them lived up to expectations. I also saw way too many commercials as it seemed that half of every broadcast was spent selling something. Yikes, do I sound jaded or what! Perhaps I am just burned out from watching too many obscure sports such as curling. Despite my words of protest, I did enjoy aspects of the Olympics. The visual images were striking and I truly enjoyed watching skiers, the opening and closing ceremonies, and was glued to the television during the Gold Medal men's hockey game.

I believe the Olympic create what some pundits call "media saturation". NBC devoted hundreds if not thousands of broadcast hours on the games via its constellation of television stations. I have no problem with this--we are talking about big business and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. However, there is a down side to this sort of saturation. The Paralympic Games will be held in March, from the 12th to the 21st in Vancouver. I am intensely interested in the Paralympics and for the last few days have been searching for a way to watch the games on television. As near as I can determine, there will no live coverage on any television network in American or abroad. None. Not one hour. Not even on NBC owned Universal Sports, home of the obscure sports. According to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) the games will go multimedia. What does this mean? An official newsletter will be distributed daily entitled "Vancouver 2010 News". The president of the IPC, Sir Philip Craven, will keep a blog during the games to inform readers about what is taking place. The IPC will also have an internet channel, ParalympicSportTV. There will also be FaceBook page and highlights can be watched on You Tube.

The IPC is obviously trying very hard to gain media attention. A multimedia approach is surely the way to go but is a far cry from prime time television, spots on the national news, and extended newspaper coverage. The net result is the Paralympics will be held in a virtual media black out. Sure a few stories will appear in newspapers and I have no doubt a "heart warming" 30 to 90 second piece will be aired on a major network but that is the end of it. This is a shame as the Paralympics differ in no tangible way from the Olympics that had media saturation. Viewers will miss out on upsets, world class competition, and compelling story lines that make the Olympics a global phenomenon. I for one hope that ParalympicSportTV works well as I will be spending my evening trying to watch the games. I will even read the IPC newsletter and blog mentioned above. I do all this with a heavy heart as I know there is much that I and the rest of the country will miss.

12 comments:

Matthew Smith said...

Kimberley Robbins of WildKat posted more or less the same yesterday. She suggested making the Paralympics part of the Olympics themselves, and I can't disagree - they're meant to be part of the same thing yet they're held after the closing ceremony. Also, holding the Winter Paralympics in the Spring seems rather pointless to me.

william Peace said...

Mathew, I did not see the link provided but I am sure I am not the first nor last to bemoan the lack of coverage for the Paralympics. The games are gripping based on what people have told me. Sadly, that gripping action is seen by a small handful of people that attend the games. I tend to think the Paralympics should be held at the same time as the Olympic games, both summer and Winter. I am sure there are logistical reasons this does occur. Such global competitions are complex to organize.

FridaWrites said...

Yes, it's sad. I think the Olympics and Paralympics should be integrated and both hosted at the same time, with alternating coverage of events. That's a radical idea, I know. Shorten the commercials and personal segments some, extend the games by a week.

william Peace said...

Frida, I agree that in an ideal world the Olympics and Paralympics should be completed integrated. I have no idea if this is possible logistically. We are talking about huge events, masses of people, and the infrastructure may make such an integration impossible. Regardless, it is certainly an idea worth exploring.

Matthew Smith said...

William, click where it says "more or less the same", but it's http://www.wildkat.co.uk/blog/?p=564

william Peace said...

Matthew, I clicked more or less and get to the correct blog by WildKat. She is correct the Paralympic games deserve the same attention as the Olympics. We are in complete agreement. I am simply not sure this is possible. This does not mean I do not want it to happen. I very much think the events should be integrated.

Becca said...

In the UK, ITV is covering the Paralympics including a decent amount of live broadcast.

See here: http://www.paralympic.org/Media_Centre/News/General_News/2010_03_02_a.html

lilacsigil said...

In Australia, the ABC is providing a highlights package on their main channel plus live coverage on a digital channel. Their coverage of the Beijing Paralympic Games was excellent, though I expect this to be on a smaller scale (as Australia is not a big country in winter sports and the winter coverage of the Olympics is far smaller than the summer coverage).

william Peace said...

Becca, Gosh I love the internet! You are correct there will be live coverage of the Paralympic games in the UK on ITV. It has been a while since I lived in London but as I recall ITV is a major station. The station seems to have a major commitment to the games.
Lil, Again I love the internet. I did not know highlights would appear on Australian TV. I knew about the digital though. It is also good to know coverage of the Beijing games was well done.

Thank you for the information!

Matthew Smith said...

ITV is nowadays not just a channel but a whole TV company, since all the old regional commercial players (Granada, Carlton, Meridian etc) amalgamated a number of years ago. However, it runs four channels, the first of which (officially ITV1 but commonly called simply ITV) is the third of five basic channels any old-style terrestrial TV can receive. (Many, if not most, families don't have cable or satellite.) Whether the Paralympics will be shown mostly on ITV1 or on one of the three digital-only channels remains to be seen.

Incidentally, the ITV and Channel 4 family of channels are, in my experience, the most vulnerable to interference of all the digital channels. Many days I have been able to pick up any of them while the BBC channels and some of the other commercial channels, like Sky Three, work fine.

LP said...

There is a actually coverage of the opening ceremonies but not the closing events of the Paralympic Games on CTV in Canada. Unfortunately this rather sparse coverage is only available on television in British Columbia.

As a Vancouverite, I have to say there has been much less advertising around town for the Paralympic Games compared to the overwhelming Olympic advertising spectacle. The few ads that do surface don't show paralympians. One could definitely live in Vancouver and not know that there are any Paralympic games at all.

william Peace said...

LP, In the USA Universal Sports is broadcasting two hours of highlights every night between 6 and 8 PM. Obscure indeed but better than nothing.