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A look at NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics:
O CANADA: Well, it wasn't 1980 again, was it?
Canada's 3-2 overtime victory over the United States for the gold medal in men's hockey undoubtedly left many fans south of the border disappointed Sunday. But it marked a thrilling conclusion to Winter Olympic competition from Vancouver, and certainly a feel-good story for the host Canadians.
The hockey tournament brought forth many of the strengths and weaknesses of NBC's work from Vancouver.
Arguably, it was hockey that was central to NBC's biggest missteps of the games. The negligible prime-time attention given to the U.S. team's early-round victory over Canada was a big misreading of interest in the contest. The network compounded the problem by showing a later U.S. game on a tape-delayed basis out West, an odd decision that it seems could have been avoided because it was so quickly corrected moving forward.
Perhaps NBC misread the situation because it was so used to the poor ratings NHL hockey gets on its own network. That was quickly corrected, too: NBC smartly ran an advertisement for an upcoming NHL telecast during the gold-medal game, trying to take advantage of the excitement.
The gold-medal game was a technical achievement for NBC. It was shot beautifully, taking full advantage of high-definition, with super slow motion shots giving plenty of viewpoints of goals. The sight of the puck hovering near the Canadian goal line, just begging to be nudged in, was great.
We also like Joe Micheletti's post-game interviews with Sidney Crosby, who scored the game-winning goal, and American goalie Ryan Miller. He resisted the temptation to be fawning in the former and funereal in the latter, simply seeking information.
Mike Emrick is a superb hockey play-by-play man, and he kept in control while keeping you fully aware of the stakes. Unfortunately, the moment cried out for more than a good hockey play-by-play man. He should have been more mindful that many casual, non-hockey fans were in his audience, and not make it seem like they were entering a private club.
Every hockey fan knows what icing is, for instance, but it would have been helpful to define the term for others.
Similarly, when the game ended in a tie -- and even before -- NBC's team should have better explained to viewers what would happen in that instance, and what might happen if sudden-death overtime didn't produce a winner.
Those are, by the way, pretty good problems to have. It means people care about what you're doing.
HIGHLIGHT: Seems so typical these days for networks to rush away after an event is completed that NBC's decision to stick with the hockey game's aftermath felt welcome. It was important to watch what was, in effect, an entire nation's roar of appreciation for Crosby. The American men looked miserable getting silver medals hung around their necks.
LOWLIGHT: Spectacularly wrongheaded decision by NBC to interrupt its coverage of the closing ceremony for the debut of Jerry Seinfeld's "The Marriage Ref." Those enjoying the festivities were told to come back in an hour -- at 11:30 p.m. on a night before work or school -- for the conclusion. Let's just imagine if CBS had stopped the Super Bowl after three quarters to show "Undercover Boss," telling people to come back in an hour for the fourth quarter. Incredible that NBC would wrap a show it has high hopes for, and one of its biggest stars, in ill will.
MILLER TIME: It says an awful lot for goalie Miller's character that he attended the closing ceremony, and sharp of NBC to find him.
RATINGS: Saturday night's telecast, featuring a U.S. gold medal in the four-man bobsled, was seen by an average of 20.6 million viewers, according to the Nielsen Co. Through Saturday, Nielsen estimates that 185 million people have seen at least some of its Olympic coverage, and the network expects that to be the most for a Winter Olympics since the Lillehammer games in 1994.
NBC is owned by General Electric Co.