For the next 12 days or so, we'll be dining at an Olympic smorgasbord; a veritable all-you-care-to-eat timesuck of epic proportions. NBC promises us virtually constant access to the Olympics through its growing family of broadcast and cable networks. In a DVR-laden household, where multiple devices are accessible from multiple rooms, missing a single event is about as impossible as overthrowing a 100% monopolist in the TV ratings industry.
Heck, here in the heartland of new media (and baseball legendry), Tampa Bay cable subscribers are being treated to not one, but two HD channels that would otherwise generally go unwatched -- the Korean NBC feed, and the Mandarin Chinese NBC feed.
Add to that over 2,200 hours of streaming video online, and there's just no escaping the big question: "Exactly how easy IS IT to get a job in sports broadcasting?"
The interesting thing that I see happening, given the state of TV technology in 2008, is that the DVR is causing families to make some hard choices.
No, I'm not talking about house-.hunting in New Zealand in advance of an Obama victory; this is REALLY serious. Which program will get bumped from the list of normally scheduled programs, or be erased before ever being watched?
With the Olympics eating up wide swathes of DVR memory, every four to six hour block of sporting history yields the same devastating reminders - either a show set to record will need to be cancelled, or, worse, the hard drive needs to have multiple programs purged (in order to make room for two hours of archery and volleyball, interspersed with three hours of the same "we're proud to be green AND global" commercials played in an endless loop).
It's really an unfortunate byproduct of our generation. Historically, you could drive by a household with children on a typical Olympic Sunday, and hear cheers emanating from every living room tuned into the games. Not anymore. That screaming you hear is Sponge Bob being eviscerated from memory in front of four horrified youngsters, or the painful reality that "Jon and Kate Plus Eight" is being pre-empted by Phelps plus three in the 100 meter medley relay.
But that's OK - that's what we've been training for since 2004. Adrenalized index fingers can hit "List" "Scroll Down" "Erase (B)" "Confirm (A)" in under 3.87 seconds, shaving .45 seconds off the previous household record. Cue the anthem; all that training has finally paid off.
Which leaves us all with our version of the post-festivities hangover. While certainly the kind folks in Beijing will have the last firecracker wrapper whisked away within seconds of the closing ceremonies, the United States DVR families are faced with the laborious task of rebuilding their list of favorite programs -- in hasty preparation for the Vancouver games, a scant 28 months away.
The questions are endless. Will "Ugly Betty" be conveniently... overlooked? Does "Pet Star" go the way of "The Gong Show"? Will Wally and the Beave finally move next door to Zach and Cody?
Speaking of which, has anybody seen "60 Minutes" since that Bucs' playoff game in January?