By Gabriel Bouys, AFP/Getty Images
Singer Emeli Sande of Scotland performs 'Abide With Me' during the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympic Games.
By Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY
Which is more likely to encourage U.S. viewers to stick around for your feel-good TV show: chit-chat between mega-celebs Ryan Seacrest and Michael Phelps or a tribute to victims of an overseas terrorist attack that happened seven years ago?
NBC, not surprisingly, chose Seacrest-Phelps during its coverage of the London Olympic opening ceremony Friday in prime time.
Get used to stuff like this. You might see something similar on NBC on any given night of the London Games.
Actually, "coverage" might not be the best term to describe NBC's prime-time Olympic broadcast. NBC is trying to sell the Games that cost $1.18 billion in U.S. TV rights fees - and hundreds of millions more to promote and produce.
So when it came time in the opening ceremony for something that has been widely interpreted as a tribute to the 52 victims of terrorist attacks in London in 2005, it's not shocking NBC didn't see lingering on that as helping its overall marketing effort. When asked why NBC didn't show the memorial, NBC spokesman Greg Hughes on Saturday said only that "our programming is tailored for the U.S. audience. It's a tribute to (opening ceremony producer) Danny Boyle that it required so little editing."
With hours to tinker with prime-time coverage because of the time difference between the U.S. and Britain, NBC will be able to massage its presentation each day for maximum palatability - right down to when London's cauldron is extinguished and NBC, no doubt, already will be talking up its coverage of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.