Seizing the moment with Shaun White on NBC
By DAVID BAUDER
Feb. 14, 2018
NEW YORK (AP) — Highlights from media coverage of the Pyeongchang Olympics:
THE OLYMPIC MOMENT: "You can't script this any better," NBC's Todd Harris said as Shaun White prepared for a final run at his third gold medal in the halfpipe. That's for sure. White's pressure-filled performance on the snowboard likely will be the most-remembered moment of the Pyeongchang Games for an American television audience. NBC seized that moment, mostly by letting it breathe. The camera focused on White as he psyched himself up for his performance and, afterward, as he waited for the score — creating exquisite tension that Harris and colleague Todd Richards didn't intrude upon. Richards noted White's penchant for pressure, and how these back-to-the-wall situations give fans the chance to see the tremendous snowboarding, a point White later made himself during an interview with Tina Dixon. White's tear-filled hugs with his parents were heart-melting (making up for the arrogant toss of his helmet into the crowd after his first run). NBC should have been better prepared for the F-bombs, and not abruptly cut away to figure skating during the celebration, but those were small faults. It was a broadcast to savor.
WHERE'S MIKAELA: Skier Mikaela Shiffrin is sure to show up sometime, NBC keeps promising us. Yet another postponement of her competition proved a blessing Tuesday, because NBC had time to build up the snowboarding narrative.
FEMALE OLYMPIANS: Natalie Morales' introduction of an ad campaign touting female Olympians was oddly timed, coming right after a male athlete's historic achievement.
WATCHING WEIR: NBC skating analyst Johnny Weir is rarely at a loss for words, but it happened when colleague Terry Gannon asked him what two North Korean figure skaters were likely thinking as they performed on the Olympic stage in South Korea. "I've never been there," Weir said. "I've never been from a nation that's so, you know, so..." His voice trailed off and partner Tara Lipinski rushed in for a rescue: "There's so much pressure when you're representing your country, but in this moment, that adds an extra layer to it."
RATINGS: Five days into the Olympics, NBC is taking a cautious victory lap. While viewership is down from the Sochi Games four years ago, it's not by as much as most TV shows have dropped in the past four years. More importantly for NBC, the audience is bigger so far than the network privately promised advertisers, giving its executives the chance to make more money. Monday night continued that trend. The Nielsen company said 22.3 million people watched the Olympics in prime time, 20.9 million of them on NBC. That compares with NBC's viewership of 22.4 million for the corresponding night four years ago.
TIRICO TIME: NBC's prime-time Olympic host Mike Tirico has gotten a public endorsement from his boss. Tirico is "just as good if not better than we thought he'd be," NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus said Tuesday during a conference call. He said viewers seem to find Tirico accessible and pleasing, and he's done a good job drawing out athletes and their families during interviews. Tirico replaced longtime Olympic host Bob Costas.
TIME TO ORDER: Have to appreciate Italian speedskater Arianna Fontana's honesty after winning the women's 500-meter short track competition in a photo finish. It's her fourth Olympics, and her first gold medal. Fontana told NBCSN that the last four months have been rough on her. "I was on a strict diet," she said. "I'm Italian. I like to eat."
More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org