So what have we learned from the Opening Ceremonies to the 2008 Olympics live from Beijing? Apart from “tell your kids to learn Chinese?” Lord knows, I didn’t watch. I had stuff to do.
Over at Salon, though, King Kaufman (who’s their sports writer and therefore has to watch this stuff) said that in the age of media on-demand, it’s looking increasingly silly for NBC to make us all wait for 14 hours to see the damn thing. 8:08pm in China is 5:08am where he lives, and sure they want us all watching at the same time because of ratings and advertising dollars and such, but the rest of the world had moved on. By the time the thing aired on the West Coast here, the first gold medal had already been handed out, and bloggers in the UK and Japan and Australia were already telling the world how awesome it was to see 16,000 people forming a dragon and then self-immolating simultaneously for glorious People’s Republic or whatever.
But here in the US, we had to wait. NBC even put a block on streaming online video from other countries, so we here in the free-est nation on Earth couldn’t see what was really going on. Which, frankly, reminds me of certain other countries I could mention, but in America it’s okay because it’s NBC doing it and not the Communist regime. Well, that’s all right then.
Look, I understand ratings and ad dollars. You need to accumulate big numbers of viewers at one specific time to show to the old people who run your network, the ones who “don’t understand the YouTubes”, so you can keep your job as VP of Ostentatious Programming. It seems, though, that the 20th century business model no longer fits the free-wheeling reality of 21st century media consumption. As it stands, NBC telling its viewers it has to wait to see something the rest of the world is watching already. It’s like some railroad mogul in the 19th century telling his telegraph operator not to use those silly dots and dashes, and why can’t he just send a nice letter?
My great-great-grandfather, probably blogging about the socio-political ramifications of “Come Josephine, In My Flying Machine.”