Home > Uncategorized > NBC’s Decision to Put USA/Canada on MSNBC Exemplifies Its Woes

NBC’s Decision to Put USA/Canada on MSNBC Exemplifies Its Woes

To add to the frustrations of Olympic fans and especially those interested in hockey, NBC has shipped the marquee USA vs. Canada game to MSNBC so they can air the second night of Ice Dancing.

(Edit – corrected; tonight is actually the second of three nights of Ice Dancing, which as Erin pointed out in the comments section makes this even more ridiculous.)


Personally, while I’m a fan of singles and pairs figure skating, I’m not that big a fan of Ice Skating. There is just very little that draws my attention. In figure skating, I can appreciate the physicality and the depth of range involved in putting forth a championship performance. Ice Dancing is…well, dancing on ice. It requires great conditioning and expertise, but my respect for the participants does not lend itself to me enjoying the coverage.

My personal lack of interest in the sport is a moot point, because more eyes are actually going to be drawn to Ice Dancing. NBC knows this and made the decision because it’ll give them higher ratings for the network in prime time than hockey would. Fans might not like to hear that, but it’s the truth. Barring a last-minute push by the hockey community online, there is no way that the number of viewers is going to be comparable, not even taking into account the difference in number of homes that carry NBC versus MSNBC.

But here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter, because in terms of money Ice Dancing is a loser. Yes, it will have more eyes on it. However, the key demographic that advertisers shell out the big bucks for – the male 18-35 demographic – won’t be watching.

Once again, NBC’s programming has demonstrated a shocking lack of understanding for what makes a network successful and brings in revenue. The same network that threw Conan out and put Leno back as host of “The Tonight Show” in order to bring back an audience that can’t buy a car has once again taken the lazy route and made a decision based on pure numbers. Which looks great on paper, but not so much once those numbers are broken down and the advertising revenue is counted.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why NBC is damned to a permanent position of fourth place amongst American broadcast networks. It has taken a sport that would capture the most desirable demographic and shipped it off to their cable news affiliate, which will no doubt air adverts for products that the demographic doesn’t even have any interest in.

But hey, at least the hockey games aren’t being relegated to Versus. That s***storm won’t go down until 2014.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Erin Morelli
    February 21, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    While not a hockey fan myself (and yet I go to a hockey school…) I agree that pushing it off to MSNBC is an awful decision. I should point out that there is actually one more night of Ice Dancing tomorrow (the Free Dance), which makes this even more ridiculous. I think I understand NBC’s “reasoning” behind this though. If they air a full hockey game, then it is harder for them to jump from sport to sport they way they like to do in primetime. At least in pushing it to MSNBC the game will be broadcast in it’s entirety, if not watched by a key audience.

    • February 21, 2010 at 10:10 pm

      Good points. I do think, though, that having a live hockey game in its entirety with a prime demographic is better than switching between a live competition with a less desirable demographic (ice dancing) interspersed with events that are on tape-delayed and therefore already spoiled by the media (eg. Bode Miller’s finally-giving-a-shit Gold Medal run in the Super G Combined).

      • Erin Morelli
        February 21, 2010 at 10:36 pm

        I definitely agree with you, and actually they interrupted live bobsled coverage to show the last 30 seconds of the USA vs Canada game and do interviews, etc. which totally threw off the whole evening’s schedule. It makes no sane, logical sense.

    • February 21, 2010 at 10:42 pm

      ’nuff said.

      • Erin Morelli
        February 21, 2010 at 10:51 pm

        This just make me really sad. Not only for Conan, but just for the reputation of TV in general.

  2. February 21, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Nothwithstanding your hockey v. ice dancing point, the TV and online coverage is not as adveristed by NBC. For those of us in the Pacific Time Zone, we cannnot see anything live, but it is also canned for those on the East Coast, a la Lindsey Vonn’s ski runs hours later.

    What is the point of NBC gloating about having the Winter Olympics just to the north of us if they act like it is the same time zone as Australia?

    Additionally, you can’t go back online and view any events in their entirety in the video archives. They just feature clips of various sports.

    For those of us who have followed the Olympics since the late ’60’s when we seemingly got far better coverage via live satellite, we don’t even know when to tune in. And God forbid you listen to any radio, TV or view online content on the west coast, hours and hours before you can see it, you already are told results.

    I hope NBC gets hosed with this 2010 Winter Olympics.

    • February 21, 2010 at 10:12 pm

      WHAT?! That’s absolutely outrageous. Like you said, it’s in your time zone!

      This f****ing network, I’ll tell ya.

  3. Moe Casale
    February 21, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Hi Kevin, Saw your post just as I was writing my own Facebook status update grumbling about this – don’t forget about those of us who still use rabbit-ears on their TVs. You’re very right about the number of homes carrying NBC and not MSNBC. We were all set with our HDMI cable to hook up my laptop to the TV and watch the game streaming live on NBC.com, but…oh, no – you have to be a TimeWarner Cable customer with a login and password in order to watch! If we had cable, we would just watch in on MSNBC, thanks for nothing.

    • February 21, 2010 at 10:16 pm

      That’s an important point that I really should have touched on: the fact that with internet streaming sites (eg. Hulu) and such, people our age are more likely to opt out of cable. The fact that they don’t have an online alternative in this day and age is just another example of how woefully behind the times NBC is when it comes to their television.

      By the way, this is the same network whose parent company runs Hulu. So it’s not like there isn’t somebody there that doesn’t get it. They’re just not in the room for The Olympics.

      • February 25, 2010 at 2:28 am

        To be fair, there’s about a gazillion people with their hands in Hulu. It’s “ownership” is basically all the networks that allow their shows to appear regularly — NBC, Fox and ABC, along with their cable offsprings (USA, etc.). That, of course, complicates matters in terms of getting the Olympics online on Hulu (they don’t appear there, even after the events are over).

        In terms of live streaming the Olympics, when was the last contract written (they go on forever)? It may honestly have been before live streaming was feasible at that kind of level. If it’s not in the contract, NBC may not be able to do it. If they could, they may not think they could make enough money.

        All that said, I completely agree: NBC sucks when it comes to covering the Olympics (and pretty much with anything else it does, especially when it comes to the business side of things). I truly hope NBC doesn’t get the next contract for the Olympics. I can’t imagine any network doing worse with them… their ADD approach to covering it makes it barely watchable, and their tendency to pick and then obsess over certain favorites is nauseating.

  4. Ellie
    February 21, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Too bad they didn’t carry the hockey. Team USA won tonight. That would have looked great in prime time!

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