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Big Brother Comes to The Olympics, or “How NBC and The IOC Are In League To Deny You Live Coverage” February 23, 2010

Posted by Lynn Christiansen Esquer in Broadcast/Internet.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UPDATE: See my thoughts about the London Games here.

And you thought the Cold War Olympics were over?

I wrote a few days ago about how NBC has ruined the Olympics for me. A few thousand page views and dozens of comments later, I’m seeing a larger picture.

And boy, is it disturbing.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) counts on American broadcast rights to help finance the games. NBC and its parent company, GE, paid the IOC a record $2.2 billion for exclusive rights for the 2010 Vancouver and 2012 London Games.

An integral part of the agreement: All International Olympic Internet feeds are blocked to those residing in the U.S.; and for those who don’t subscribe to cable or satellite television, even NBC’s Internet feeds are unavailable.

Which means, if you live in the U.S., you do not have legal access to free or live Olympic coverage from any source.In today’s technological age, this is an outrage.

Are you getting this? Does it sound a little like living in Iran or China? But instead of government censorship, it’s corporate for-profit totalitarianism. Think of the larger implications of this statement. Americans are being force fed news of this event from the perspective of one single news source, with no timely alternatives. Are you angry yet?

I understand the mutually beneficial relationship between NBC (advertising revenues resulting from exclusive broadcast rights) and the IOC, and can only hope that NBC will lose its broadcast rights by the time 2014 rolls around for its poor coverage. But that’s just wishful thinking — there’s no evidence to suggest that anything other than money talks to the IOC; and NBC has already expressed its intention to bid for the 2014 and 2016 Games.

The wall won’t fall on its own because, despite the almost universal disparagement of NBC’s coverage, the network has inexplicably logged the largest ratings of any Winter Games since 1994. But as mobile and wireless evolve quickly, there will be more and more fires for the IOC and NBC to put out to prevent us from finding ways to watch. At some point, those little fires will become a wildfire of public control that the IOC will be unable to extinguish.

Let’s hope it happens soon.

Feel free to contact the FCC: http://www.fcc.gov/contacts.html



1. Chandler - February 23, 2010

YES! Thank you so much for bringing this to the light of day! I’ll be forwarding this like crazy—thanks for being a part of what will hopefully be a movement of change on the part of the Olympics.

2. Lynn, of Bloggapalooza - February 23, 2010

Thanks, Chandler! I don’t know if you caught the blurb I put on the last post, but this one was inspired by your comments (and a few thoughts of my own). Thanks 🙂

3. Elizabeth B - February 23, 2010

Lynn, another good one. You’re right, it does reek of China or Iran cracking down on Internet and mobile communications. What’s next? Who next will benefit from selling our exclusive eyeballs? It’s a scary thought.

Like you said, and like we’ve seen in China and Iran, though, they can’t stomp out all the news coming in live. It’s impossible, and to your point, things are only going to make it harder for them to do so.

4. Lauren Day - February 23, 2010

Why don’t they realize that if they aired it live on the West Coast, viewership would be even higher? I mean, kids can’t stay up until midnight to see who won, and neither can most of the rest of us! So we record it on our DVR’s, which we would do even more if it aired live.
Right now, the only difference between us and China or Iran is that your site isn’t being blocked!

5. K - February 23, 2010

If a corporation can do this for Olympics, they can do this for any other media program… This is an outrage even if we are not in today’s technological age. How can NBC (or anybody in right mind) say depriving millions of people in the US a free (or even paid) access to something people in many other countries can freely access is a success?

6. Lynn, of Bloggapalooza - February 24, 2010
Pattie Kaiser - February 25, 2010

Love Stephen Colbert’s “2010 Vancouverage”! He’s a riot! And he sure knows how to poke fun at “Big Brother”!!!!! Don’t sugar coat it, Stephen! Tell it like it is!!!! LOL!!!

7. Pattie Kaiser - February 25, 2010

Well, we can forget about better coverage for the 2012 Summer Games, too. NBC has that one sewn up:


In my opinion, this is one arrogant article about the “marriage” between the IOC and NBC! I may never watch the Olympics again!

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