A U.S. TV network plans its Olympic coverage

A new network, XBC, has just been granted exclusive rights to broadcast the 2016 Olympics in the United States. In a conference room in XBC headquarters, the planning committee, chaired by Cassidy, takes its first meeting.

Cassidy: Okay, Team XBC! Let the games begin! [excited laughter] Now, the Olympics is a world event, so, coverage-wise, our most important goal is –

D.J.: To keep the focus on the American athletes.

Allison: For sure, Deej. That’s traditional. But – and I’m going out on a limb here – could we maybe feature just a few foreigners? I have a niece who might qualify for the Swedish team.

Hunter: What’s her event? Because there’s some Olympic sports that are super boring.

D.J.: And don’t have very many Americans competing.

Hunter: I mean, archery? Trampolining? Canoe slalom? C’mon!

Cassidy: Okay, “maybe feature a few foreigners.” I’ve got that. Thanks, Allison.

Rodrigo: Will we be showing the Olympics live?

Cassidy: Good question, Rod. Has everyone met Rod? He’s new to XBC, and to the U.S. too. Rod hails from Paraguay.

Rodrigo: Uruguay.

Cassidy: Really? There’s another “-guay” country down there? Have you got an Olympic team? [Rodrigo nods] Well, to answer your question, Rodster, we’re live-streaming the events on our website –

Minh: Good luck getting that to work.

Hunter: But the Opening Ceremony will be tape-delayed.

Rodrigo: Of course. So our viewers will be able to watch in comfort when they arrive home from work.

Cassidy: No, so we can jack up the prices for the commercials. Now, for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, of course we’ll cut anything we think won’t appeal to Americans, so I need some ideas about what to show instead.

Rodrigo: Ah, now – venturing out on that limb with Allison – why don’t we show the ceremonies in full, as their designers intended? That way Americans can learn things about the rest of the world.

D.J.: Which they need why, exactly?

Allison: Do our corporate sponsors want Americans to learn about the rest of the world?

Cassidy: Good point, Allison.

Minh: How about this? We can pre-tape interviews with some of the top American athletes and splice them into the ceremonies when things look like they’ll get boring for Americans.

Cassidy: Good idea, Minh. That way we keep the focus on Americans.

Rodrigo: How much of the Opening Ceremony are we going to show, exactly?

Cassidy: It’ll depend on how boring it gets for Americans. NBC cut at least half an hour of London’s thing.

D.J.: Like that lame “tribute to the fallen.” Did you read about that? It was all about dead people. What a downer.

Rodrigo: And it’s not as if Americans have ever lost a loved one or died in a terrorist bombing.

D.J.: Right. I mean, wrong! I mean  …

[Several seconds of uncomfortable silence]

Hunter: And all those dumb events with horses. Shouldn’t the horses get the medals? Because the riders just, like, sit there.

Cassidy: Let’s talk about how to choose the commentators. Minh, what’s your –

Rodrigo: Cassidy? Allow me? Because I think I’m getting the hang of this. The commentators shouldn’t sound too knowledgeable; we don’t want the American audience to think we’re talking down to them. That moment in the 2012 games when Meredith Vieira said “We hadn’t heard of Tim Berners-Lee,” will be hard to top, but they should try. And they should be garrulous to a fault, ready and willing to cover up with a lot of chat the times when, unavoidably, we have to show things that might be boring for Americans. Unless, even better, we can cut to a commercial.

D.J.: [after an awestruck silence] Dude, you hit that one out of the freaking park.

Rodrigo: Inspired by your example, team.

Cassidy: Okay! Time’s up. Here’s what I’ve got: maybe feature a few foreigners, lots of U.S. athlete interviews, cut the ceremonies by at least half an hour, and get talkative commentators who don’t know too much. Great meeting, guys. [shoulder-punches Rodrigo] And a solid contribution from the new guy.

[They push their chairs back and get to their feet]

Hunter: And team handball! I mean, WTF?

Allison: Is that really an Olympic thing?

D.J.: Yes, but there aren’t any Americans competing.

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4 thoughts on “A U.S. TV network plans its Olympic coverage

  1. They sound ideal as the USA’s next Synchronised Blindfolded Diving Team. And if you get really lucky, they won’t notice the pool is empty when they come to do their first practice jump. Fifty Shades of Grey, transformed into 50 Shades of Red in a trice

  2. Oh that is genius! The equestrian comment stood out to me because just last weekend I was watching a French woman in the show jumping event (heaven forbid.. A foreigner) and out of the blue the American History of gymnastics came on.. Seriously?!?! WTF are you really that arrogant? Oh! And something else funny (or pathetic, I haven’t quite figured out which yet) … I was watching the mens swimming….does Phelps sound familiar? anyway, there was a Brit in lane 7.. Well the Brit happened to walk out right as Phelps did and the crowd let out a massive cheer; the commentator proceeded to say (in his most patriotic voice) “oh, and the crowd here going wild tonight, everyone (with a lot of emphasis on the word everyone) cheering for the greatest athlete of all time”… NO YOU MORON…. they are cheering for the Brit in lane 7… Oh, and did you notice how I don’t know the British swimmers name?… Case-in-point.

  3. Thanks for your comment, GrumpyScot. I’m not sure I’d wish death-by-empty-pool-diving on my XBC committee, though. I’d rather get them all seconded to the BBC, where they might learn a thing or too about the rest of the world. Except for Rodrigo. He gets promoted to executive director of XBC.

  4. It’s great to hear from you, Kerry! I’m happy that the social media (thank you, Tim!) are making it possible for Americans to judge NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. And lest I sound too totally anti-American for a California girl: Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and Google are all just down the road from us, 100 miles south in Silicon Valley. If we Americans can give the world all that, we should be able to watch the Olympics live and without commercials.

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