One of the ongoing challenges of Olympics broadcasting is captivating viewers with live footage while using tape delay to save the most-watched programs for primetime audiences. The well-chronicled problem is that the Internet and the explosion of media news in general makes it nearly impossible to keep the public in the dark between the time that tape-delay programs are recorded and when they air. Fox Sports says it will bite the bullet on this dilemma and show everything live if they procure broadcasting rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympics, which will be bid on next month in Switzerland.
This will run counter to the past approach of NBC, which has held broadcasting rights for recent Games and usually kept the “best” action for primetime, even though the suspense was often dulled because the public knew who’d won events well in advance.
“You might as well try to reach as many people as you can, whether they’re hard-core fans or primetime viewers,” Shanks said.
And while airing action live would allow other TV outlets to carry Olympic highlights before primetime Olympic shows — something NBC worried about on past Games — Shanks thinks that extra exposure would help primetime ratings: “If it’s shown everywhere, that would amplify the message that the Olympics are on.”