The Olympics long have appealed disproportionately to viewers outside the hardest core of sports fans, but in recent Olympiads the Games have lost much of their appeal to the most avid sports viewers.
Much of that loss of cachet is a backlash against NBC’s strategy of saving ratings-friendly events for tape-delayed presentation, when they can be packaged for dramatic effect and primetime audiences.
That approach won’t fly anymore given modern media realities, and it has led to intense interest in this week’s IOC bidding, in which Fox, ESPN and NBC are making pitches for 2014 and ’16.
Fox and ESPN have promised to show everything live but also would repackage highlights for primetime. The wild card is NBC in the wake of Dick Ebersol’s recent resignation.
If the Peacocks are ready to go live, it would be nice to have them back, given their long association with the Games. If not, it’s time for them to fly the coop.