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Maybe NBC stands for “no blankety-blank coverage”

Well, NBC has done it again. Olympic hockey fans in the United States looking for today’s quarterfinal game against Switzerland came up empty on the three NBC television channels. Fans needed broadband coverage if they wanted to watch the game online. Oh, and they needed updated Silverlight video player software, too.

The sad thing is that NBC television programming will play stupid (again), acting as if nobody knows the final score. Well, this hockey fan, for one, likes to know what’s going on in the games, especially the big games.

USA won the game, which started at noon in Vancouver, British Columbia, 2-0. I did see the last half of the third period on my home computer, but not everyone has the ability to tune in online.

For the record, NBC was showing soap operas on its main network channel; it had financial programming on MSNBC; and USA network was recapping Olympics events from the night before. The scroll at the bottom of the screen didn’t include the live scoring of the USA-Switzerland game, although the second period had just ended with the score tied at zero.

In English football terms, zero scores are called "nil," which is the score I give NBC for all of its Olympics coverage.

On a side note — coverage of Sunday’s USA-Canada men’s ice hockey game was another fiasco. I was tuned in on the main NBC channel to watch the Russians beat the Czech Republic, 4-2. I knew that all the games in the men’s tournament are being played in the same arena, so I assumed the game was being shown live. Wrong. It was delayed. Probably by an hour or so.

When the game ended, NBC shifted to a program featuring key players from the 1980 Olympics gold medal team and the "Miracle on Ice" game in which the U.S. beat the heavily favored Soviet Union team to advance to the final game. So hockey fans who wanted past and present had to hit the "record" button and then flip to USA Network to see live action. Oh yeah, there’s no high-definition telecast on that network, so those with HD sets had to settle for a much fuzzier picture.

USA downed host Canada 5-3, in what NBC and others billed as the biggest Olympic hockey game since the spectacular upset 30 years earlier. You’d think NBC would telecast the game live on its flagship network. You’d be wrong.

NBC has a chance to do better, as Thursday’s gold-medal game pitting the USA against Canada is scheduled to be aired at 3 p.m. (PST) on MSNBC. The gold medal game in the men’s tournament is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday on the main NBC network Let’s hope they’re both live.

Let’s also hope a different broadcast network wins the rights for all future Olympics games.



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