With apologies to my American friends, can we Canadians take a moment to appreciate the TV coverage of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics on CBC?
Did you want to watch a game involving Canada? You can find virtually any game on the main CBC network or on the TSN or Sportsnet sublicensees. If you wanted to watch a non-Canadian game or didn’t have a cable subscription, they were all available through CBC Gem or the CBC Sports website. And get this…all for free (technically ad-supported)…and for any sport.
This stunning coverage couldn’t solve the time zone problem, but CBC would have a “while you slept” highlight package ready to air every morning on its online platform as well as on its YouTube page. So if you weren’t an insomniac, you would know about it. Or if you’d rather watch the whole game – and you could avoid spoilers – you can watch replays after the events have concluded.
COVID-19 has caused coverage issues and CBC, like other networks, has not sent play-by-play announcers to China. Instead, announcers and analysts sat in plexiglass booths that not-so-subtly resembled a prison visitation booth.
The Olympic commentary team of Bruce Rainnie, Mike Harris and Joanne Courtney did a great job despite having no control over the camera shots, no telestrators and having to watch the exact same video feed that we saw at home. If you were to watch games without the folks at CBC, you’d be treated to the very competent team of the Olympic Broadcast System – including Canada’s Luke Coley, Norway’s Sander Rolvaag, USA’s Ann Swisshelm and TCN columnist Hans Frauenlob from New Zealand – or sometimes no comment at all, for that “I’m in the arena” feeling.
Some Canadians will argue over coverage, saying they couldn’t find games or that CBC periodically dropped curling and moved on to another sport. In the latter case, CBC has a policy of leaving coverage scheduled to cover Canadian medals live – to catch a Canadian athlete’s bid for gold, silver or bronze. They’ve done this for years, for the Summer and Winter Games, and they always go back to the previous sport they covered.
How to avoid this? The aforementioned CBC Olympic and Paralympic Games website. Every game of curling or wheelchair curling, whether it involves Canada or not, was available on the site. The four sheets, all at once, with four different productions. Live and replay. In fact, the CBC Olympics site remained online for at least two weeks after the Closing Ceremonies—it only disappeared in the middle of the Brier!
(Based on that, I guess you could watch any moment of Paralympic coverage all this week and maybe next week too. If you’re in Canada, here’s the link to a bargain of sports action, presentations of medals and abstracts.)
So if you haven’t figured out how to connect your big screen TV to the internet yet, you’ve missed a major boat here. I warned you almost a year ago that online coverage of curling matches is a train you should get on.
I feel for our American friends who had to suffer under NBC’s slaughtered coverage with poorly timed commercial breaks. We all hope that they will eventually learn to appreciate the uninterrupted flow of the Roaring Game. Going a little deeper, maybe all the networks (CBC included) can learn the value of side-by-side advertising, because I’m sure prospects would love to see their snaps get some screen time.