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 to take over for NBC 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 ESPN360.com.
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.”
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