Because while so much has changed, one thing remains the same: NBC still sucks.
On Friday evening in Tokyo — 6:55 AM EST — the "2020" Olympic games officially kicked off with an opening ceremony taking place almost exactly a year after it was originally scheduled.
The global upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a number of changes to these games, beyond the obvious delay. For a start, the local feelings about the games have ratcheted up from the usual simmering resentment regarding ballooning costs and the disruption of daily life all the way to full-blown hatred and mortal terror.
As the delta-variant of COVID-19 causes new surges worldwide residents have had to watch as anti-vax athletes from such backwards nations as the United States pour into Tokyo, bringing new cases of the virus. Outside the massive new Japan National Stadium — completed in December of 2019, just in time to be shut down — chanting protesters bear signs reading "Olympics Kill the Poor," and "Lives Over Olympics."
But the games go on as Japan and various stakeholders try to minimize their losses from the rescheduled event. And, inside the stadium, another change. The sprawling stands, meant to seat a crowd of around 65,000 spectators, instead hosted fewer than 1,200 dignitaries, officials, athletes, and performers for what may or may not have been a spectacular display embodying Japanese national pride and global cooperation.
We can't say for certain how spectacular that display was, or what it really embodied, because we weren't awake and glued to NBC's live broadcast at a little before 7:00 this morning, and there is no recording of the event available on Youtube, NBC's website, or any other reputable corner of the Internet. Because while so much has changed, one thing remains the same: NBC still sucks.
Having vastly overpaid yet again for exclusive broadcast rights, NBC is recycling the same irritating tactics that drove would-be home-spectators to abandon the Rio games in 2016 and the London games in 2012. But because the the conditions of late capitalism require that everything get continually worse, there's now the added twist of their doomed entry in the streaming wars.
So while NBC is once again broadcasting many events on an absurd delay and requiring online-viewers to sign in with a cable-provider — despite being one of the broadcast networks that are propped up by the privatized division of our public airwaves — they have added a new option for cord-cutters. Specifically, this option appeals to those cord-cutters who suffer from an over-abundance of money or a total lack of discernment: Peacock.
If you don't know what Peacock is, I'm sorry to inform you that it is NBC's exclusive streaming service. If you thought that we had surely reached streaming-platform saturation with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Max, Apple TV+, Paramount+ and a dozen other upstarts destined to share the fate of Quibi, wait until you hear NBC's pitch for why you need to add the all-NBC-all-the-time streamer to your catalogue: The Office.
That's pretty much it. Along with a handful of other beloved series, NBC figured they could get your monthly $5-$10 (depending on your tolerance for ads) simply by holding Michael Scott and the gang hostage. At least, that has been their play up to this point.
But now that the mildly-anticipated and highly-misguided Olympic games are finally taking place, NBC is hoping to make the most of those overpriced Olympic broadcasting rights by adding an extra incentive for premium Peacock membership. As the Peacock website prominently proclaims "Peacock is the place to flock for the Games' top moments."
Does that include a recording of the opening ceremony — which NBC characterizes as a "quintessentially Japanese," including a Kabuki performance, a display of origami doves, and some jazz for some reason? It certainly seems that way, but to tell you for sure, we would have to be stupid enough to pay for a premium Peacock membership, so...
If you have a television or live TV internet service that's equipped to receive live NBC broadcasts, you can tune in at 7:30 PM EST for a re-broadcast of the official opening ceremony. Otherwise...well, you can watch footage of the fireworks from outside the stadium. Maybe NBC will post some highlights tomorrow?
Tokyo marks Olympics opening ceremony with fireworks www.youtube.com
So, to sum up, the games that are meant to bring the whole world together to celebrate human achievement as one are being hidden behind a corporate paywall by a company that is built on the privitization of public airwaves. So if you were looking for another reason not to care about the Olympics, there you go.
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