In the social media era complaining is easy to do. Look at all those complaining about NBC’s tape delayed coverage of the Olympics. An American medallist will trend instantly, hours before their event reaches American homes. It is also easier to complain about live coverage here in Canada. But does it really matter?
Just in comments on this blog alone I’ve heard everything from [name of announcer] sucks, CTV’s coverage is the worst ever (hard to say that unless you can remember CBC’s coverage of 17 hours in Rome 1960, but I digress), CTV’s announcers are amateurs (hey, like the athletes were supposed to be), Joanne Malar sounds like a sheep (I actually get this one), and I can’t find [name of sport] anywhere on TV. Those are all real complaints. Some quite valid, some not so much. Is CTV’s Olympic coverage the worst ever? Doubtful. I’d take 18 hours a day over 1 hour a day (ala CBC in Rome) anytime. Is it worse than CBC? In some aspects surely. Is it worse than NBC? Hardly. Could they do better? Probably.
However, I don’t think it really matters. Just as fast as records are broken in the pool and at the velodrome, CTV is setting record audiences for a Summer Olympics. An average of 6.4 million Canadians tuned in for the Opening Ceremony, about 50% more than the CBC’s previous high (4.3 million for Atlanta 1996). Of course the London Opening Ceremony was earlier in the evening than Atlanta. Even with the new way of measuring TV audiences (from 2010 onwards), it is easily the most watched Summer Opening Ceremony in Canadian history.
CTV’s Primetime coverage is averaging around 2 million viewers for the first week. That’s also close to 50% higher than CBC’s coverage in Beijng. And remember in Beijing CBC was live from 9pm ET/6pm PT onwards with swimming and gymnastics finals in 2008. There is no live primetime coverage in London.
As long as people tune-in in record numbers, advertisers are going to pay. This is good news not only for CTV, but more importantly CBC, who will broadcast the next two Olympic Games in Canada. It is also good for Canadian summer athletes, who may be able to secure more corporate funding with increased attention.
CTV cares about making money, or at least coming close to breaking even in this case. To make money (or avoid losing it) they need to draw viewers. Many viewers are at least satisfied enough with their coverage to watch in record numbers (there is an alternative in NBC). So, it doesn’t really matter if CTV is showing too many ads. Too much studio talk, not enough live action (I’ve never had a problem with either, a benefit of 3 channels) or if their coverage is in fact the worst ever. The ratings are the highest ever. And at the end of the Games, they are the one number that matters to Bell and Rogers.