February 10, 2002
What I'd like to see at the Olympics

It's nearly de rigeur to complain about the coverage of the Olympics. From the extreme glut of Oprahesque stories about athletes conquered obstacles on their way to acheiving the Olympic dream, to "plausibly live" coverage, to too much focus on American athletes in events where they have no chance, to banishing the less-sexy sports from the airwaves, everyone has a gripe about what they do and don't see on NBC.

Well, here's what I think. I think NBC or whoever should look for a way to create personalized Olympic coverage. Offer a subscription for $25 or $50 that would allow a household to pick and choose exactly what events they want to see on a given day. Nonsubscribers can still watch whatever the network suits choose to air on the main station, anyone else can be their own executive producer.

I have no idea whether this is financially feasible for a network, and it may only be realistic for folks with some combination of digital cable and TiVo, or perhaps a satellite dish and TiVo, but ask yourself: Wouldn't you pay a reasonable fee for guaranteed coverage of what you want to see? It can't be that much different than established premium services like ESPN College Game Day. Why hasn't anyone thought of this?

UPDATE: Got a note from Duncan Fitzgerald, who recalls that a pay-per-view scheme was tried before, in 1992. Guess it wasn't much of a success, but surely the technology has advanced enough that it could be done better now. I think people are more used to the idea of paying for premium coverage now, which argues for another attempt. Tying into TiVo/ReplayTV technology also means you can work around the problem of when the games are in an awkward time zone for American audiences, as the 2004 Games in Athens will be. C'mon, guys. There's synergy to be captured here!

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 10, 2002 to Other sports | TrackBack