No Time For the Poetry

NBC's cool coverage stints on the drama

When NBC won the right to broadcast this year's Summer Games, network executives knew they were taking on diplomatic and security problems, daunting logistics and steep financial risks. Despite street protests and the odd control-room snafu, the Olympic movement has largely surmounted politics, and TV technology has done justice to that glorious diversity. But the financial news last week was disappointing for NBC and, indirectly, for the organizers of future Olympics. U.S. TV ratings were 20% lower than projected, forcing NBC to pledge compensation to advertisers.

At least part of the reason for the muted response is that NBC was doing...

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