NBC has so far been generating its best ratings for a non-U.S. Summer Games since '92, but the network must be concerned that its boffo first week is in danger of falling off a cliff. First, Michael Phelps has dried off for good after completing his dramatic eight-for-eight gold medal quest.
Second, the other-side-of-the-world schedule is much less attractive this week, with most key events taking place in the evening Beijing time -- and thus in the early a.m. back here in the States. Last week, on the other hand, most of the key swim finals and the popular gymnastics team competition had been shoehorned (in part at NBC's request) into the morning in China, perfect for airing live in U.S. primetime. (Except for the West Coast, which had to wait anyway, but that's another story altogether.)
I know I have railed in the past (including this morning) at NBC's time-shifting, head-in-the-sand strategy to keep key events off the American airwaves for as much as 12 hours so it can air them (solely) on tape during primetime. But hey, as a former investment banker, I understand that it's a business decision. NBC paid a billion-dollar-or-so nut to air these games and wants to recoup its investment.
So I'm going to help out the Peacock Network. Here's why we should keep watching the Olympics this week on NBC:
10. Bela Karolyi might accidentally tear off Bob Costas' arm
9. Beach volleyball women show more skin than a German tourist
8. Usain Bolt plans to win the 200 meters -- running backwards
7. Rare chance to see all the countries we owe money to
6. Because after Sunday, it's all politics, all the time (zzzzz)
5. To find out LIVE! what happened 12 hours ago
4. Real football hasn't started yet anyway
3. When else are you gonna watch NBC?
2. See Kobe Bryant actually pass the ball (sometimes)
1. Because we have no choice