The 2012 London Olympics started last week, and I was pretty excited about the games before they began. In the last few days, however, my excitement has dissipated quite a bit. This could be because Detroit Lions training camp just began on Friday and most of my focus has been on that, but I think the biggest reason can be attributed to NBC's ridiculous desire to tape delay seemingly everything that is actually worth watching.
For those who aren't aware of this fiasco, NBC is tape delaying the bigger Olympic events in order to save them for primetime when ratings will be higher. Since the Olympics are in London and there is a time difference, our primetime is five hours later if you're on Eastern Time and eight hours later if you're on Pacific Time. While NBC is streaming these events live online, the quality is not good at all. Let me put it this way ... You can find higher quality streams of NFL games than what NBC is offering, and those streams of NFL games are not even hosted by the league, if you catch my drift.
While I get NBC's point about having higher ratings at night, it's absolutely preposterous for them to not air everything live. With the time difference, NBC could easily air everything live during the day and then air it all again during primetime. I highly doubt the overall ratings would be that different considering more people would probably tune in if NBC was actually showing live events that are worth watching during the day. Sure, during the week it is tougher for people to watch in the middle of the day, but for NBC to not air Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte live at 2:30 p.m. on a freaking Saturday is ridiculous. It's not like people don't watch sports during the day, especially on weekends. Just ask the NFL.
Speaking of the NFL, my gripe with tape delays extends far beyond what NBC is doing with the Olympics. In fact, I had planned on writing a post of this nature weeks before the Olympics began. Why? Well, during the NFL preseason blackouts aren't actually blackouts. If games aren't sold out, they are given the blackout designation, but this simply means the games are tape delayed locally rather than not shown at all. Obviously showing the games regardless of the time is better than not airing them at all, but that doesn't exactly say much considering how awful the blackout rule is to begin with.
The NFL did become a bit less stupid by relaxing the blackout rule for regular season games this offseason, but as far as I know, preseason games will continue to be shown on tape delay locally if they are not sold out. Last year, the Lions actually managed to sell out one of their preseason home games since it was a nationally televised matchup with the New England Patriots, but sellouts for exhibition games are extremely rare. The fact of the matter is people don't want to shell out money for games that don't count for anything, and they shouldn't have to. This is yet another reason why there should be no blackouts or tape delays during the preseason. Just do it live.
My biggest gripe with the preseason blackout rule is that it is just absolutely pointless. As dumb and outdated as the rule is in the regular season, I can at least understand where the league is coming from in terms of encouraging fans to attend games if there is the threat of them not being televised. However, in the preseason the threat is simply showing games a couple hours after they begin. Does this actually encourage people to go to games? I highly doubt it. In reality, it simply encourages fans to find illegal streams so they can actually watch live. There is just no sense in not allowing games to be aired live -- sellout or not.
Like the blackout rule in the regular season, the only thing the NFL accomplishes by tape delaying preseason games is driving down interest in the sport and individual teams. This time of year is known for being when football returns, and fans have a strong desire to watch games, even if they're only preseason games. However, that desire can be taken away when somebody has to go out of their way to not have the result of their team's game spoiled, and it especially can be taken away when someone turns on the TV expecting to see football and finds out that they have to wait a couple more hours just to watch a game that has already happened.
In this day and age, tape delaying any live event is just plain shortsighted. As much as I hate NBC for tape delaying the Olympics, I can at least understand the ratings argument. For the NFL, however, there is no argument for tape delaying preseason games. Making games more difficult to watch and on later at night will not help local ratings and will not drive up interest in the teams or the league. Few, if any, people are going to buy tickets to a game that doesn't count just because of the threat of it being tape delayed, so all the NFL is actually doing is screwing over its fans with this ridiculous rule.
It's 2012. To NBC and especially the NFL, I say get with the program and stop tape delaying sports.