“The 2016 Summer Olympics” on NBC
Apparently, we can’t have anything nice anymore. The Republican National Convention was an unmitigated dumpster fire. Bernie Sanders supporters and some stolen emails conspired to make the Democratic Convention as controversial as possible. And now—on the eve of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio— the Zika virus, a major ban on Russian athletes, a whole host of unfinished venues and superviruses in the water are joining forces to distract us from what we should care most about. Namely, our country’s athletes grabbing as much gold as possible while shaming less populous and prosperous nations.
For better or worse—and for the next two weeks—the games of the XXXI Olympiad will take place in Rio de Janeiro. NBC is in charge of the telecasting and guarantees quantity, if not quality. Between all the networks and the digital platforms, viewers will have access to 6,755 hours worth of programming. You can catch stuff on broadcast (NBC, Telemundo) and on cable (Bravo, CNBC, Golf Channel, MSNBC, NBC Sports Network, NBC Universo, USA Network). You can burn out your retinas to near 24-hour-a-day livestreaming on NBC.com. Or, for the full package, you can download the NBC sports app and watch it on your smartphone when you’re not playing Pokémon GO.
Competition actually begins on Wednesday, Aug. 3, with woman’s soccer on NBCSN and USA Network. Apparently nobody cares about that, though, since NBC itself isn’t airing the opening ceremony until Friday. The first major milestone for Olympics watchers arrives, then, with the “Rio Olympics Preview Special” (Thursday, Aug. 4, KOB-4 7pm). Mr. NBC sports himself, Bob Costas, addresses all of the topics related to the Rio Olympics and introduces the host city (hopefully without getting robbed, as the Australian Olympic team has already been). Also featured will be profiles of athletes, including Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky and Usain Bolt. Who doesn’t love a good profile?
Everybody’s one must-watch event is the “Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony” (Friday, Aug. 5, KOB-4 6:30pm). It allows you to say you watched the Olympics without ever actually encountering any sports. This is the first-ever games held in South America, and it’s Brazil’s chance to pretend it’s not a nation that just had a dismembered human foot wash up on it’s Olympic volleyball beach. The show from Rio’s Maracanã Stadium will feature all the usual highlights: a torch lighting (by soccer legend Pelé), a raising of flags, a parade of nations. (Go, Lesotho!). I’m thinking there will be drumming and samba and fireworks and—fingers crossed—some naked women in body paint. Rio does love its naked women in body paint. I hear supermodel Gisele Bündchen will be there portraying “The Girl From Ipanema.” No, really. Hey, at worst, you can use the time to criticize Olympic uniforms. (Like the bad guys in an ’80s teen comedy, Team USA will be decked out in Ralph Lauren preppie gear!)
Sports-wise, you’ll get all the swimming, wrestling, fencing, boxing, volleyball, archery, soccer, basketball and badminton you can handle after that. Starting Saturday Mr. Costas (sans 2014’s hideous Winter Olympics eye infection, hopefully) will anchor NBC’s primetime coverage (6 to 10pm). Ryan Seacrest will host the late night programming (10:35 to 11:35pm). Al Michaels serves as daytime host (8am to 3pm). That should give you sports lovers plenty of time to ponder what the hell is up with equestrian dressage.