After all the furore over Prime’s Olympic coverage being interrupted by advertising we thought it would be worthwhile checking to see what the coverage was last time.
The Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony began broadcasting at 8:08pm on the 8th of August, 2008. That much I can remember as just after 8am that morning our first child arrived into the world. By the time the opening ceremony started, both Rachel and I were well and truly ready for some sleep, despite straining to stay awake for the epic Chinese presentation to the world. I couldn’t remember whether the event had screened live or whether there were ads so it was great to get some clarification from TVNZ.
According to them, the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics also included advertising which was positioned based on the dress rehearsal to minimise interruption. However, when the commercial breaks ended, coverage was resumed live. This meant that small portions of coverage were omitted.
The closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics was completely live, with no ad breaks, although there was apparently quite a bit in the lead up to it.
So it appears that when comparing the last two Olympic Games, the opening ceremony on Free-To-Air television was either ad-interrupted and delayed or missing coverage while the closing ceremony was either completely live or ad-interrupted and delayed.
It is arguable as to whether strategically placed ad breaks or delay inducing advertising is the preferred way to go but when it’s an advertising supported model, it must be one or the other.
It is unreasonable to think that in this day and age, content should simply be provided for free by broadcasters who are paying premiums for it. In 2008, TVNZ had 2 broadcast channels of content. TV One and their short lived sports channel on Freeview. It was an incentive to buy a Freeview receiver and the opportunity to see the first Olympics in HD. There were also 2 online channels of content which weren’t really all that good.
Contrast that to 2012 and we have Prime broadcasting 23 hours a day of highlights and live events as well as Sky’s myriad of Olympic channels. Sure, you had to pay for them but there is no FTA broadcaster with the capacity to do anything close to that. If TVNZ were to use TV One, TV2, U and TV One+1 they wouldn’t even be halfway there. Sky provided the best coverage we’ve ever had for an Olympic Games which was delivered at a premium for those who chose to pay for it and for free on Prime for those who chose to view the ad supported coverage.
Kiwis have been held hostage by the TV networks here for weeks, months and years for some of our favourite shows and fans have had to painstakingly avoid spoilers and stay off Facebook and Twitter for longer periods of time than 30 minutes. Even those forking out the additional fees to have SoHo in their homes are waiting days and weeks. Being made to wait for content that is available elsewhere in the world is nothing new for those of us living in New Zealand. At least, in this instance, the delay was only minutes and not hours like it was in the USA.
While those of us who have become accustomed to having things spoiled on the internet know when to avoid social media, perhaps those labeling themselves as the #primeunderclass might also want to consider badging themselves up as #toostupidtoknowwhentodisconnectfromtheinternet