Blog Post

What Would an ESPN Olympics Look Like?

If ESPN were in charge of of broadcasting the Olympics to a domestic audience, what would it look like? paidContent did an interview with ESPN executive vice president of content John Skipper and executive editor John Walsh about the challenges of covering the Olympics. But contained within the interview was a pretty frank pitch to the International Olympics Committee for ESPN (s DIS) to take over for NBC (s GE) once the latter network’s contract is up in 2012.

Just a quick scan of the comments on our Olympics posts shows that few people are happy with NBC’s approach to covering the games, and Skipper addressed one of the biggest concerns most have by stating that if it were up to ESPN, a lot more would be taking place live, as opposed to NBC’s current tape-delayed primetime potpourri.

“If you’re a sports fan and you really care about the event, you care too much about knowing who won to wait,” writer Staci D. Kramer quoted him as saying. He also stated that there would be “a ton of [live coverage]” on ESPN’s broadband web presence

Walsh did mention that NBC was “not dumb” with regards to its method of leveraging advertising dollars for primetime. But the fact is that the strategy isn’t working, given the money that NBC is losing this year, and their restrictive approach is only serving to keep the Games from spreading to their fullest.

It’s easy for ESPN to be an armchair quarterback to NBC’s coverage, but the network does seem to have a much more solid understanding of how the modern sports fan consumes their updates — and Skipper’s comments indicate a much looser approach than NBC’s to the spread of footage and news. In short, it sounds like an Olympics covered domestically by ESPN (and, one would guess, parent company Disney and broadcaster ABC) would be the Olympics we all hoped for this year. Of course, a lot will happen before the next available Olympics in 2014. If Disney and ESPN were to secure the next Winter Olympics, hopefully we won’t all be complaining that “This is sooooooooooo 2010.”

Photo courtesy of Flickr user adrian8_8.

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): Fantasy Football’s Very Real Digital Business

3 Responses to “What Would an ESPN Olympics Look Like?”

  1. thebigchuckbowski

    NBC can try to argue that people wouldn’t watch prime time if events were shown during the day but I think that’s dumb when you consider (especially at this Olympics since it’s in our time zone) how much stuff could be and is live in primetime. Figure skating, speed skating, moguls, half pipe, etc. All events done at night in primetime. Almost all of the most popular events.

    People watching during the day are still going to watch primetime for the primetime events. They’ll just have to sit through some stuff they saw earlier to get to it. And, that is actually a good thing for NBC because those people will watch NBC commercials twice.

    The argument that it would spoil people so they won’t watch in primetime just can’t be made with all the news sources reporting the results, it’s nearly impossible to avoid without ignoring news websites or turning on ESPN. So, all they’re protecting against is the sports fans that would be too annoyed with watching something twice to be able to watch Shaun White win gold. How many people like that are out there? 2? But, they’d be gaining daytime ratings and still keep the primetime ratings.