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January 14, 2010 at 6:30 PM

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Here we go again with NBC's not-live "live" coverage

Posted by Ron Judd


SPOKANE -- In our introductory missive from Skate City, below, we mentioned that NBC had announced plans to carry major events at the U.S. Figure Skating Trials live on network TV, this week and next. And we asked; "Do you believe them?"

Well, don't.

We just saw the schedule, and savvy NBC schedule readers will note that the network, as usual, will hose the tiny, insignificant portion of the United States known as the "West Coast," (AKA, the "Disadvantaged Time Zone," see our many musings on NBC's coverage of the Beijing Games) by delaying broadcast of the main event for three hours to viewers from San Diego to Blaine.

Take a look at NBC's schedule, below, and note that the network promises to broadcast the Jan. 23 women's free skate live, simultaneously, to both the East and West Coasts -- which is perfectly doable -- and have it magically appear at 9 p.m. in both places, which is perfectly NOT doable. Either the Fourth Place Network has already reinvested some of that Conan O'Brien money in new time-shifiting broadcast technology, or the "live" designation is a lie to those of you unfortunate enough to live on the West Coast. It's the same intentional falsehood the peacock network foisted upon the not-fooled public during the Beijing Games.

So when you see "ET/PT," rest assured that means that the East Coast, the Coast That Matters, will get the event live in prime time. The rest of you noobs will get it in prime time, too. Delayed by three hours. Even though it happened in your own time zone.

Got it? Good. Might as well get used to it, because you're going to get the same thing next month from Vancouver/Whistler. That's right: If you're thinking you'll be able to dial up, say, the men's downhill, live at 11 a.m. from Whistler, right here in your own time zone, on NBC, good luck with that. NBC released its Olympic schedules today, and they are riddled with the same "ET/PT" nonsense.

We haven't waded through the schedule yet (our copy, for mysterious reasons, must've been lost in the electronic mail), but we'll bet you a Jay Leno Olympic pin that folks in Seattle and LA won't see that downhill until after 9 p.m. Pacific Time -- at least 10 hours later, and a full three hours after all your buddies on the East Coast have already seen it, commented on Twitter, discussed it with their kids so they could write, turn in, and receive back a graded term paper on the subject, etc.

And they do this why? Because it's what you want, NBC says. They've got market research to prove it. YOU want to watch major sports half a day old, because prime time is the only time you're capable of plunking down to watch. And yep, that includes weekends.

We offer our usual response, which as usual will be ignored: If NBC really believes most people want to be spoon fed by Bob Costas only after dark, but knows that some other malcontents prefer to watch sports live, why not do both? Use a second-rate cable network to put morning events on in the morning, Don't worry about it being obscure. Even out here in the West, we'll find time to clamber off our wagon trains and find live skiing in the TV grid.

It's a win-win. The Reality TV crowd can still wake itself in time for the 9 p.m. daily feeding by NBC's distinguished cast of hyperventilators. Yes, that would require separate broadcasts. A new wrapper for a second package, if you will. Clearly, nobody at NBC has the energy -- or, let's cut to the chase, any recognizable shred of the sense of public responsibility that broadcasters used to have -- to go to all that trouble. You're not worth it. Especially you Left Coasters.

We can only hope the people responsible for letting the next Olympic TV contract take note. But we fear otherwise. Ratings are money, and money talks. Especially in the English, French and native host-nation language of the International Olympic movement.

With all those qualifiers and rants, here's where you can find coverage of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, live and faux-live, on NBC over the next 10 days:


COVERAGE ON NBC SPORTS:
- This Saturday, 4:30-6 p.m. ET - Pairs Free Skate (Live), Pairs Short, Men's Short
- This Sunday, 4:30-6 p.m. ET - Men's Free Skate (Live)
- Saturday, Jan. 23, 3-6 p.m. ET - Free Dance (Live), Ladies Short
- Saturday, Jan. 23, 9-11 p.m. ET/PT - Ladies Free Skate (Live)
- Sunday, Jan. 24, 4-6 p.m. ET - Recap of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships
- Sunday, Jan. 24, 9-11 p.m. ET/PT - Exhibition of Champions and announcement of U.S. Olympic Team

UNIVERSAL SPORTS COVERAGE:
- This Saturday, 12:30-2:30 a.m. ET (late Friday night) - Men's Short and Pairs Short (Live)
- This Saturday, 6:30-8 p.m. ET - Pairs Free Skate, Pairs Short, Men's Short (Re-Air of NBC Show)
- This Sunday, 6:30-8 p.m. ET - Men's Free Skate (Re-Air of NBC Show)
- Friday, Jan. 22, 12:30-2:30 a.m. ET (late Thursday night) - Ladies Short (Live)
- Friday, Jan. 22, 11 p.m. - 12 midnight ET - Original Dance (Live)
- Saturday, Jan. 23, 11 p.m. - 2 a.m. ET - Ladies Short and Free Dance (Re-Air of NBC Show)
- Sunday, Jan. 24, 2-4 a.m. ET (late Saturday night) - Ladies Free (Re-Air NBC Show)

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Blog roll and links

www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog
www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
www.wcsn.com: News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions.
www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
www.vancouver2010.com: Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site.
www.london2012.com: London 2012 Summer Games site.
www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.