Highlights from television coverage of the Sochi Olympics:
UNCOMFORTABLE MOMENT: When Lyman Currier took a hard fall in the men’s halfpipe, NBC’s cameras caught him writhing in pain and groaning in the snow. It was one of those tough moments in sports, illustrating the danger involved in the breathtaking artistry of some of these high-flying winter events. Yet it teetered close to the edge of an invasion of privacy. Knowing the impact of the moment, NBC should keep viewers informed on Currier’s condition.
SNOW SHOWER: “Take that, cameraman,” was Dan Patrick’s aside as Canadian halfpipe competitor Mike Riddle showered a camera lens with snow while pulling up after his routine.
TWEET OF THE NIGHT: “Nice to see some actual snow falling for the first time to put some winter in the Winter Olympics.”
GLOSSARY: Maybe it’s too late this time, but NBC should consider a glossary of moves for some of these snowboard and freestyle competitions. What is a “double cork 1260,” for example? And that’s one of the simpler ones. Be fun to find out how they got their names in the first place.
CELEBRITY TO CELEBRITY: Ryan Seacrest was a good choice to profile South Korean figure skater Yuna Kim and her level of celebrity in her home country. We could have done without the “look at me” moment of Seacrest putting skates on to stumble around the ice.
WEIR WARDROBE WATCH: Johnny had a charcoal grey suit jacket with black, leopardlike stripes, black leather pants and a jeweled collar. Bob Costas gave Weir and partner Tara Lipinski a prime-time segment to discuss the upcoming women’s skating competition, a sign their stars are rising at NBC.
LONG DISTANCE SKATE: Speedskating gold medalist Dan Jansen – from back when non-Dutch skaters occasionally won medals – did some solid work with NBC’s coverage of long-distance races Tuesday. He explained how ice in arenas near sea level is harder to skate on, and how that works to the disadvantage of U.S. skaters. NBC also told the rich story behind the men’s 10,000-meter race, with Dutch skater Sven Kramer’s attempt to win the gold medal denied him by a coach’s mistake four years ago. Kramer started out quickly, but Jansen quickly and correctly observed that he didn’t have the strength to beat countryman Jorrit Bergsma.
BOBSLED PAIR: Interesting that NBC opened its prime-time telecast with coverage of women’s bobsled when the network aired the exact same segment in the afternoon. It shows that the fear of audience cannibalization is becoming a thing of the past. NBC seems no longer worried that showing something during the day will cause a significant number of viewers to tune away at night, essentially concluding that they are two different audiences.
RATINGS: An American gold medal-winning team in ice dancing proved a strong draw for NBC. The network averaged 23.5 million viewers for its President’s Day prime-time programming, larger than the audiences for each of the last two Winter Olympics on the corresponding night. By more than 5 million viewers, NBC’s Olympics coverage outdrew programming on ABC, CBS and Fox combined.
MORNING SIGH: That was a sigh of relief from the “Today” show studios, where executives learned Tuesday that the morning show beat ABC’s “Good Morning America” in the ratings last week. It was the show’s first weekly victory since the London Olympics in 2012, but would have been a major blow if it hadn’t taken advantage of being in Sochi.
David Bauder can be reached at dbauder(at)ap.org or on Twitter(at)dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder .