Highlights from media coverage of the Pyeongchang Olympics:
BEING THERE: Sometimes the secret to good reporting is simply being there, even if you’d rather not. Alpine skiing reporter Steve Porino was right near American Mikaela Shiffrin as she vomited before heading out on her first slalom run Friday in South Korea. Fortunately, he didn’t have a camera. Was it nerves? Was Shiffrin coming down with something at the worst possible time? Not clear. In a high-flying sport decided by split seconds, though, her condition is valuable information. (Later, after finishing in fourth place, she admitted to anxiety that made her sick.) Analyst Bode Miller is full of insight from being a recent top competitor on the ski circuit. He even has his own tales of throwing up before major races, and the pressure that can literally make you sick.
SHARP WORK: Listen to the work of Leigh Diffey and Bree Schaaf as they called the skeleton competition won handily by Yun Sung-Bin. They bring excitement and historical sweep to their calls, explaining the technicalities without getting lost in them. “This is one of those moments that just makes your heart feel like it’s going to explode,” Schaaf said over the replay of the South Korean’s final run. “His form, his expression. I am blown away by not just this race but the entire season by Yun Sung-Bin.” Similarly, cross-country ski analyst Chad Salmela made the women’s 10-kilometer freestyle race easier to understand, despite its complexities. He captured the thrill as he and viewers tried to will Jessica Diggins over the finish line to earn the USA’s first Olympic medal in the sport. She fell less than four seconds short in a 25-minute race.
TRYING AGAIN: NBC prepared a strong feature on American snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis, a four-time Olympian sadly known best to many for falling while making an unnecessary jump at the end of a race she was dominating, costing her a sure gold medal in the 2006 Turin Games. Unfortunately, producers aired it around 1 a.m. Eastern on Thursday on the East Coast, right before a men’s qualifying round in snowboarding. Time constraints probably prevented NBC from showing it before Jacobellis competed Friday (she finished fourth) and that’s a shame, because anyone who saw the story would have rooted hard for her.
PRIME TIME PLUS: NBC decided this year to air its Olympic telecast at the same time across the country, and that paid off for West Coast viewers in the U.S. with Thursday’s competition in Korea. They were able to see Shiffrin win her giant slalom gold medal live in a prime viewing window, right before 10 p.m. Pacific on Wednesday. In past years, West Coast viewers were stuck watching reruns of an East Coast feed that aired three hours earlier.
COORDINATION: On a busy night Thursday, NBC seemed to use the extra space of its NBCSN cable network wisely. Producers showed a wider sweep of Olympic events on the network, while letting people who wanted to see an extended look at figure skating have the chance on cable. One area to improve upon: keeping viewers better informed of their options.
RATINGS: If the ratings were an Olympic race, NBC slipped a few seconds off its pace on Wednesday. The Nielsen company said 19.2 million people watched competition in prime time on NBC, the cable network NBCSN and through streaming services, down 8 percent from the 20.8 million who watched NBC for the corresponding night at the Sochi Olympics four years ago. An estimated 17.2 million watched NBC alone, or 17 percent off Sochi.