Am I being too sensitive and critical here? Maybe you can help me with this nagging feeling I'm having, because I'm willing to listen. You see, I have a problem with NBC's coverage of the Olympics. My problem? All I see are old white guys.
Kay, Kelly, and I all enjoy when the Olympics roll around. We become enrapt with the athletes' stories…the inevitable thrill of victories and agonies of defeat…the rise of those previously unknown and the ongoing sagas of winners returning from four years ago. For two weeks, we live in front of the TV.
I don't want to dwell on the fact that we live 2 1/2 hours south of Vancouver and will never see an event live. It's sort of like watching the Super Bowl on tape delay AFTER you already know the score. That, of course, is irritating beyond belief.
But the issue that really bothers me is the fact that NBC can't seem to find anyone other than old white guys to host the broadcasts and announce the events. We've had hours and hours of Al Michaels, Bob Costas, Brian Williams, Jimmy Roberts, Cris Collinsworth, Al Trautwig, Dick Button, Bill Patrick, Scott Hamilton, and so on and so on.
To be sure, every one of these people is very good at what they do. I have no argument there. And yes, they do slip in an occasional Mary Carillo story, but let's face it folks, the gray-haired white guys are getting the lion's share of on-camera time. I'm bothered by and I AM an old white guy.
If I were a marketing gunslinger, I might suggest to NBC they should bring in more diversity to their broadcasts. Oh wait, I AM a marketing gunslinger.
Hey NBC, are you aware your audience is a little more colorful than white? And there are a few more women out there watching the Olympics, too. And aren't you covering athletes of all races, color, ethnicity, religions, and political viewpoints, as well as other various differences. I'll bet SOME of them even put their toilet paper roll with the paper coming from UNDER. Weird, but probably true!
Why do I find this important. Because an important component of marketing is matching your message and your branding proposition to your market. And, IMNSHO, NBC is basically thumbing their noses at non-white non-males.
So, do you agree or disagree with me? I'm willing to hear the arguments. Please comment below.
There are some of the old white guys that I still love to see–Scotty Hamilton, Dick Button–really significant people in their sports and we get to see them like this only every four years. However, I basically agree with you, and then things got worse–last night Jenna Bush with her additional married name, was an interviewer of four of the real power houses of the skating world. Jeanna was embarrassing–slow to even ask her obviously memorized questions–absolutely no spontaneity–what is NBC thinking? There must be sports greats from the Olympics–like Lynn Swann and Terry Bradshaw from football–who are female and have the personality to be a commentator. Where is MIchelle Kwan? Surely there is a skater like Peggy Fleming who could talk,or a skier, or a summer olympics great–someone with a bit of pizzaz– The excitement quotient was destroyed for me by the Jenna Bush episode–if she was dazzling personality, the move of including her would make sense.
Agree! While the Olympic events have gotten more diverse in their appeal to younger folks (like snowboard cross!), when it comes to ethnicity and women, they are very uniformly old, white and male.
I wouldn’t know what NBC is doing.
I’ve been watching the Canadian broadcasts. For years they’ve done a better job. Especially with hockey.
I love it just the way it is. I loved seeing Dick Button and Scott Hamilton. I remember when Scott was there and won. I am and old white woman.
Watch the Olympics on CTV like we do in Bellingham, WA. Real time, every country, a lot less talking heads and more sport. Plus, you have to go up! Even without tickets to an event, which you can buy on the street outside the venue, walking around downtown is great. Take the skytrain to the last stop, waterfront station. and walk three blocks to the tourch and 6 blocks or so to the blocked off streets and people watching.
I have a completely different attitude – why should I be listening to anybody? I want to see the events. I have been so disgusted with NBC’s coverage. I have tried watching the 1st half an hour and here has been my experience so far. 8:00 intro, 8:02 Commercials 8:04 Ski Event Prelim 8:08 Commercial 8:10 Another Ski Run by medal contender 8:14 Commercial 8:16 White Man Talking 8:16:04 – Click to reruns of Gilligan Island. Read about the winner on the internet!
There are thousands of athletes competing, why not just show them all – too much talking not enough sports.
No wonder NBC is at the bottom of the ratings!
Interesting. Usually I notice things like this. I guess I have not been as enthralled with the sports this year for some reason. But I agree. Here is a different take on it.
NBC has no competition when it comes to Olympics coverage. Sure, there’s the Olympics app on my iPhone and I can get highlights at ESPN but for the real coverage and getting to see the sports in action, NBC is the only game in town. Doesn’t a lack of competition give them the right to do what they want? Yes, if they don’t really care about the consumers.
Even though there is only one station with the Olympics coverage I want, if I get disgusted by the lack of diversity I can switch channels and watch reruns of Friends or The Office. Or I can sit and watch the games anyway, putting up with what I see. That’s the cost of annoying consumers. The BATNA in this case is either “put up and shut up” or else total withdrawal. Either way, the audience is annoyed and less loyal. There’s a book about this called Exit, Voice and Loyalty. I think I got the name right.
Just one guy’s thoughts. I’m no gunslinger, Steve. I’m like the young kid in The Magnificent Seven.
This is no longer a black and white world. That is how it used to be on my old round TV in the fifties when you had film delay.
Today we have folks from all over the world competing and we fail to provide a visible format which television is portraying. NBC’s main audience is the US market and even here we are not colorblind.
Again I think it shows how out of touch management can be even in these enlighten times.
A lot of people are wondering what NBC’s doing in these Games with the weak on-air ‘talent’, tape delays, shuffling the A games (USA vs. Canada) back to the C channels (MSNBC)and the Today Show’s ‘talent’ shamelessly gushing over the athletes.
But whatever they’re doing, it’s working because the ratings are up 20 percent from Turin.
And what’s up with Al Michaels? He looks like your granddad’s creepy bookie who doesn’t know he’s not supposed to stay too long after the wake. And Bob Costas’ hair color is a supernatural cross between auburn and purple. What’s wrong with these guys? They both should have retired before hi-def TV came along. But I digress.
Regarding the ‘talent’, an observation…
Maybe they’re staffed up with old white guys because old white guys (with apologies to Kay and Kelly) are the (mostly) only ones left who are willing to watch the Games on conventional TV, consuming the information on NBC’s schedule instead of their own.
NBC prez and CEO Jeff Zucker admitted yesterday that NBC doesn’t know how to make money from non-conventional broad- and narrowcast means, but they better figure it out because that’s where viewers are going.
But us old white guys aren’t going anywhere. After all, nothing goes better with watching the Olympics than a bowl of Fritos, an ice cold can of Falstaff and a Swanson TV dinner.
While I am a proponent for diversity in the media, I also have to look at the diversity of the participants of the Winter Olympic events. I have not seen many African-American or Hispanic athletes. There are, however, a handful of Asian-Americans that I’ve noticed.
I propose that the serious barriers to entry of practicing winter sports prevent many minority athletes from participating. You have to consider the equipment, fees, lift tickets, ice time, etc. Those costs can add up. Many areas of the U.S.A. that provide ample opportunity for winter sports are extremely expensive to live. Compared to Summer Olympic events where all you need is a pair of running shoes and motivation to succeed, the Winter Olympics events seem to me to be exclusive.
This discussion goes way beyond marketing. I think that NBC could use more variety in the gender of their announcers, but as for race, you have to consider the demographics of the participants as well as the viewers.
After hearing you vent about this from my side of the couch, I’m glad you have gotten this off your chest! Now I can watch The Olympics without having you pause the tv to gripe. 😉 But you are right…and if YOU, an old white guy yourself (self-professed) think this, I can’t imagine younger, diverse folks relate to all these old-timers. The old guys are fine, but they need to mix it up and ADD some fresh, colorful faces – and perspectives. With love from your old white wife.
Who do you prefer they use? Maybe it has nothing to do with race or positioning and it’s all about experience. Let’s face it, minority diversity is not something that goes back many,many decades, therefore I have to believe the number of minorities with the amount of experience as someone like Al Michaels or Brian Williams is very limited. As unfair as that sounds that’s the way the world worked and it gave some of these “old white guys” a chance to gain experience that minorities could not during that time period. The good news is this will change as we move forward.
Come on Steve, if you were pitching an idea to Microsoft would you send in the least experienced person to close the deal,just because he/she is a minority? Of course not!!! I have to assume that NBC is bringing out their tried and true veterans for something as important and broadly viewed as the Olympics. I long for the day we can stop being so sensitive to things such as this, get back to work and give opportunities to those most deserving regardless of race,gender,age and all other things that tell you nothing about someones ability.
I assume you are going to come back at me by saying this is about matching your message and branding position to your market – I would agree if the market pays closer attention to the diversity of commentary than the diversity of the core product, the Olympic Games.
Gimme a break. What a ridiculous concept — and a prejudiced one, too — to insist everyone receive their news from members of their own race and gender. When will we all just be PEOPLE doing whatever it is we do best for whatever audience we happen to have. Sheesh!
I don’t know what your problem is. Most of these guys are the best of the best. I would rather see someone who has witnessed these events before and know what they are talking about than see someone who doesn’t know anything but football or basketball to try to announce the winter olympics
I appreciate getting your e-mail messages and tend to learn when you post.
As far as this diversity topic, I don’t really care what color or sex the announcers are. I don’t even notice when they have an additional married name (see first post) … what was that comment meant to prove???
I don’t appreciate female football commentators (eye candy) who don’t have a clue.
Quite frankly, if they were all women or all Asian, I couldn’t care less as long as they know what they are talking about.
So if they are all old white guys, so be it as long as they are knowledgable and can communicate.
I stay away from American broadcasts because they over cute everything. There are way too many special moments (with soft music) and background crap. They try to make each and every moment a special story to talk about. Give me a break.
When the stories are real and sincere, GREAT. When they are contrived for TV … forget it.
Let’s hope for a USA vs, Russia hockey rematch.
I hadn’t noticed the all white male issue because I have been to busy bemoaning what I see as a different missed opportunity. As a child growing up the pause for the summer and winter olympics was so meaningful to me as a lesson of the potential for humans to put aside differences if ever so briefly to engage in healthy competition. Through those breaks I had a stronger belief that there could be world peace and that athletes sharing pins and meals and experience. I loved the backstories and even with national pride found reason to celebrate some unknown athlete from a previously unknown village in the USSR. What a great message of hope it was for children. With the world more polarized than ever they have missed the opportunity to celebrate the possibilities of human interaction on the playing field instead of the battlefield.
Now I feel like all I’m seeing is more hype of U.S. media darlings who are expected to win and maybe if there is an international threat we’ll find out about THAT athlete.
I don’t care who tells me about the outcome of a particular competition. I want the Olympics that celebrate the world in a more meaningful way. For me the olympics are only marginally about the medal count.
I could care a less what sex or race these people are. Let the best people in the business do what they do best. I’ve been pleased with NBC’s coverage and I’m not an NBC fan.
I agree with the person who said there should be less talking altogether. My husband and I luckily have DVR and we spent more time fast forwarding through the announcers and little snipits of the events than we did actually watching the events. I think the coverage was awful and I wish they would show more of the sport and less of the meaningless talking. In addition, geez online media, don’t place who the winner is on your home page for all to see before we actually get to see the coverage!!!!