QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 18 and Closing Ceremony by Mark

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From last night—

  • All the screaming by the commentators seems to have caught up with them. The Bobsled guy seemed genuinely out of breath—I was momentarily concerned he was having a heart attack. Scott Hamilton at the Skating Gala had a raspy voice. Hope the norovirus hasn’t struck Kabletown.
  • I thought the gala performance of Alina Zagitova (Gold Medal winner), as well as her outfit, was a LITTLE racy for a 15 year old.
  • TIrico wraps up Primetime coverage with an interview of the US Curling team (I believe for the second time).
  • The final “prime plus” coverage includes the 50K cross-country ski competition—the marathon (actually longer) of Winter QISE--and an interview with QISE President Thomas zBach.
  • XThe latter confirms the decision that Russ—sorry, Olympic Athletes from Russia—will NOT be allowed to show their flag at the Closing Ceremonies. Not sure why that was back in question, considering that 2 of the 4 cases of doping during Pyeongchang came from that team. That fact this aired at the tail end of that night’s programming tells you that QISE and Kabletown would like to forget this. There was a strange glitch in the interview where Bach repeated the same phrase twice—bad editing.
  • Well, the final medal count is in—Norway tops the list with 39 total medals, 14 of them gold, followed by Germany at 31, Canada at 29, and the US at 23, with 9 gold. The US got 28 medals at Sochi, also with 9 gold.

And now the final day and closing ceremony…

  • We have another number—102 medal events throughout Pyeongchang (98 at Sochi).
  • More 50km racing, this time for the ladies. At one point, an athlete (and the commentators) were confused after a wrong turn was made on the course.
  • The remainder of the final afternoon’s coverage is a 90 documentary on the Mexico City games 50 years ago—probably the beginning (for good or ill) of politics at QISE—followed by something that’s been done since the Peacock took over QISE coverage decades ago (and maybe before then). A huge extended list of production credits alongside QISE highlights, running 10 minutes, showing the army of staff and crew  involved.
  • Primetime begins with “QISE Gold”—a one hour review of the games, along with a preview of the closing ceremonies. Tirico checks in for a final time from the Fortress of Solitude. Overall, Tirico’s no Costas—yet. Based on how long Kabletown has the QISE contract, he’s got a decade plus to grow into the role.
  • Over at the stadium, Tara went with bedazzled black, and Johnny with white—including a star in his hair. Oh, and there’s the generic commentator guy too. Speaking of the stadium, it cost $109M to build, and will be used exactly four times (opening and closing of QISE and ParaQISE), then torn down.
  • The QISE review seems to have turned into a histories of Snowboarding at QISE and Korea itself. In fact, there’s a number of segments which played earlier, which begs the question—why is this show running long, delaying the (already delayed by 14 hours) closing ceremony?
  • Finally, the closing ceremony gets underway, with lots of dancers and music borrowed from The Simpsons. Then it’s kids dressed like pandas (why not?) presenting the South Korean flag.
  • Now it’s time for a rock concert by a member of the Goonies, classic musicians, and an electric violin player. Somebody get that cat out of here! It’s all to introduce the “Queen of the Closing Ceremony”, Miss Korea.
  • Then the flagbearers and athletes come in as a group. Just like a cafeteria in high school, each country keeps largely to itself.
  • Wow, Comcast cranked out a third version of the “small town watching the event in the middle of the night” ad, now with shots of Jessie Diggins carrying the flag.
  • More drones, this time in the shape of the games's mascot, a white tiger, changing into a heart.
  • Oh no, the "in memorium" concept has made it to QISE. Like this wasn't already too long. "Finally, the turtle goes through a time tunnel." Okaayyyy....
  • And now a large dose of K-Pop. I'm sure the singer sees this as a way to get her music to the US.
  • I noticed we're not getting much in the way of Johnnyisms--Tara is being more talkative. Maybe Weir is out of his element?
  • Back to the formalities. The QISE hymn, the QISE flag transfer, and the official Beijing 2022 preview.
  • Finally Johnny wakes up—“PANDAS!” We also get a huge light show for Beijing, reminiscent of Tron, then a video presentation with flying pandas. QISE won’t be leaving Asia until 2024, by the way (Paris).
  • QISE President Thomas Bach does his “this is the greatest QISE of all time” bit, then officially closes QISE. There’s more dancing, a guy playing a theremin, a Jeep gang, and yes, more K-Pop straight from the Korean Teen Choice Awards.
  • Hey, it’s the kids from the opening ceremony with their Palintirs! A comically large gift box opens to show a giant show globe of Pyeongchang, followed by yet another light show which extinguishes the QISE flame.
  • More dance music as the athletes swarm out to the stage, while random and chaotic interviews ensue, with Tara, Johnny, and the other guy blathering on.
  • Back to Tirico, who wraps it up at the Fortress. We'll miss you, overblown sets!

Well, after 140+ hours of main coverage, plus the Today Show and countless amounts of streaming and VR, that about does it. If I don’t do something in this blog before then, see you July 24, 2020 in Tokyo.

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 17 by Mark

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Back to last night—

  • Yet another new event, Alpine Skiing - Team Event. Two skiers go down a dual shortened slalom hill at the same time, with a drop in the middle, and the fastest one wins. It’s like when you were a kid, and you made up a new board game using parts from your other games.  Not sure this is a winner.
  • In case you’re worried about upcoming QISE withdrawal, Kabletown reminds you that they have you covered. there’s still the ParaQISE games starting March 9—and the QISE Channel will cover events going forward (aka a lot of reruns).
  • Yet another event using existing parts: Snowboarding Parallel Giant Slalom. It’s like the Peacock is saying, “we’re running out of stuff to show—come up with something—anything!” It did allow Ester Ledecka to win gold in two sports—a first for a woman at Winter QISE . It also allowed Norway to break the overall QISE record for medals won.
  • In “prime plus”, we got a preview of a documentary to be shown Sunday afternoon, about the Mexico City QISE 50 years ago. It looks very interesting. It’s great to hear Jim McKay announcing an event.
  • In an attempt to sell Bobsledding to the NASCAR crowd (seems like an easy sell), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. interviewed the US 4 man team.
  • BTW—when you hear “this broadcast is presented by the authority of the International QISE Committee…”, you know it’s the final segment of the show. 

Moving to today—

  • America woke up to the US Curling Team with an improbable gold medal. The Weekend Today Show team was already back in the US, so they had to interview the team via satellite. They dubbed it “Miracurl on Ice”.
  • Rebecca’s back for the afternoon session at the Fortress with the Gold Medal Curling match. They kept cutting back to a viewing party at the home club in Minnesota. The Peacock was ready for an otherwise barren schedule with segments on the 1988 games and the ParaQISE Sled Hockey team.
  • The Calgary ’88 segment was actually a documentary about the figure skating competition, narrated by Rob Lowe. “It was LITERALLY the greatest competition ever”. (A Parks and Rec reference).
  • The final ratings are starting to come in, and it’s not good for Kabletown. Down 15% from Sochi in the coveted 18-49 demo, even when taking NBCSN and streaming into account. It’s still profitable, but considering the billions spent to get the rights, and the continued drops, it won’t be forever.
  • Primetime begins with Tirico at the Ski Lodge, sending us to YET ANOTHER new event—Speed Skating Mass Start. There’s an unnecessary point system that makes it very confusing—why not just have the first to cross the finish line wins? Why make it so difficult for the audience to follow? I just looked up the rules online, and I still barely understand it.
  • After another Lindsey Vonn review, it’s off to the final Bobsled event (unless there’s one that involves doing tricks in them). 
  • We’ve now made it to the “Champions Gala”, where the winning skaters do special routines, generally as an audition for skating shows—or Dancing with the Stars. The adults (Scott, Andrea, and Tanith) were brought in for this.
  • Things are really winding down now. Tomorrow is the Closing Ceremony, which like the Opening, will actually happen early in the morning Eastern time. I will NOT be getting up for it this time—I’ll wait for Kabletown’s version with Tara and Johnny 14 hours later.

The big wrap up tomorrow!

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 16 by Mark

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From last night—

  • Tara and Johnny are really building up the US Ladies’ skaters—just to dash our hopes, or maybe to keep people watching? Later, they were apologetic after underwhelming performances.
  • Johnnyisms—“That’s a crazy score guys. Anything 220 or up is Russian territory” “Comparing her skating to others is like comparing a Picasso to a finger painting” “A swan has gotten her wings, Clarence!” “Like skipping stones across a placid pond"
  • We get a “tale of the tape” from Tanith White before the top Russ—sorry “Olympic Athletes from Russia”—compete.
  • The Peacock is taking full advantage of the “primetime” period by show it live in all time zones. As a result, Eastern/Central goes to local news afterward, while Mountain/Pacific continues coverage, and then both come back together for “Prime Plus”. Depending on the scheduling of events you’re interested in, it’s easier for the East or West Coast to watch.
  • Ladies’ Figure Skating kicked up the TV ratings for Kabletown, but the overall numbers have not been good—below the Sochi numbers.  It’s not the streaming options dragging down the numbers, since they are being included in the Pyeongchang figures.

Moving to today—

  • The US flagbearer for the closing ceremony was announced on the Today Show--Jessie Diggins, Cross-Country Gold winner. It's not as big an honor as the opening ceremony.
  • We also got our first Tokyo 2020 preview package during the morning show--882 days and counting...
  • Since many of the outdoor events got pushed up due to weather concerns, the last few days are going to be a little less jam-packed than originally expected. I’m sure you will be seeing even more pre-taped packages and rerunning major events between now and the closing ceremony.
  • Speaking of, in today’s afternoon coverage, we got a segment about the US military force in South Korea—narrated by Dale Earnhardt, Jr.???
  • …and then we got a rerun of last night’s figure skating. You know this is available on the website, right?
  • Primetime begins with Tirico at the Fortress, handing us off to Four Man Bobsled. If the team screws up getting into the sled at the top, it looks like the Three Stooges going through a doorway.
  • We’re also wrapping up Speed Skating tonight. Shoni Davis, who earlier inferred that a coin flip to choose the flag bearer was racist, didn’t do well.
  • Then it’s Men’s Big Air Snowboard, and a second chance to see phenom Red Gerard. Since his initial appearance, he flew back to the US, appeared on Kimmel, CBS This Morning, Kelly and Ryan, did a People magazine shoot, a video for Sports Illustrated, and flew back (14 hours each way). What you can do when you’re 17…

More to come.

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 15 by Mark

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From last night—

  • Reaching into the refrigerator magnet word salad, it’s Freestyle Skiing - Men’s Halfpipe. All the temperature changes in Pyeongchang are screwing up the snow in the pipe (uh, dude…EXTREME?)  A great quote—“So the man from Reno on his third and final run rolls the dice and it comes up Yahtzee!”
  • If you’ve been watching QISE much at all, you’ve probably seen these micro-ads, mostly from Toyota, that run maybe 10 seconds between ski/board runs. Kabletown is squeezing in as many ads as they can, even with a live event going on.
  • For some reason, Natalie Morales was doing interviews at the bottom of Men’s Slalom. Was there some contractual issue going on? She seems a strange choice.
  • Chloe Kim was flown halfway around the world to New York—just so she could be on the 5 minute micro-Fallon show.
  • Tara and Johnny dropped by to chat with Tirico—Johnny is wearing a Seinfeld-esque puffy shirt and a bird in his hair. BTW—they announced they are hosting the closing ceremonies.
  • The Peacock stretched out “prime plus" and got the Women’s Hockey Gold win for US live—38 years after the “Miracle on Ice".

Onto today—

  • Of course, the Today Show began with the US Women’s Hockey team, followed by Lindsey and Mikaela, then the US medal winners of Men's Halfpipe, the Women’s Bobsled, and the Women’s Cross-Country Team Pursuit, respectively, and finally Jamie Anderson. The Today Show has been waiting for a day like this.  The US leapfrogged to fourth place in medals overall since yesterday.
  • Rebecca Lowe begins afternoon coverage hanging out at the top of the ski jump—clearly terrified at the height involved. She quickly throws it to Curling.
  • Primetime begins with an intro to the marquis Winter QISE event—Ladies’ Figure Skating. We’ll see when it will start on the main broadcast (it’s already on streaming, showing the lower-ranked competitors). Tirico, in the Fortress, tosses it to Tara and Johnny, the latter wearing what appears to be a formal tablecloth.
  • Then it’s off to the final night of Short Track. I’ll say it again—why isn't there a pro league in the US? I mean something like Monday Night Short Track. It’s a shame we won’t see this for another four years.
  • Also, what’s with the “Ironside” theme as background music at the event?
  • To tease the audience, we get a package on Evgenia Medvedeva, the Russ—sorry, "Olympic Athlete from Russia" figure skater.  It’s all about her interest in anime.
  • We finally got to figure skating 90 minutes into Primetime. Based on what’s on the live stream right now, the Peacock mothership is picking out earlier performances to show. The Americans, and the leaders, will come up later.

More to come.

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 14 by Mark

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From last night—

  • Well, Lindsey Vonn ended up with (as they call it on The Simpsons) “shameful bronze”. She teared up at her post-race interview—this is catnip for Kabletown’s cameras, and we got long extreme closeups of her crying. You could count her individual eyelashes.
  • Back to Figure Skating. Johnnyisms—“She usually sells that short program like the rent's due tomorrow and she hasn’t gotten her paycheck yet!” “She rotates so fast—it’s like a hummingbird’s wings” “Her jumps were like fireworks"
  • At sone point, Tara said that a skater should score better than another—then after the commercial, and that didn’t occur, she said she knew it wouldn’t happen.  It’s all due to what they euphemistically call the “reputation” of a skater (Russians—sorry, “Olympic Athletes from Russia”) tend to get a pass more easily from the judges.
  • Looks like my TiVo’s schedule was off tonight—or the Peacock made some last minute changes—so my “prime plus” recording is a bit fragmented.
  • At QISE, all announcements are made in the local language, France, and English. This sometimes means different names or pronunciations for countries. I keep hearing “CAN-ada”, then “Can-A-da”. I reply with “Canad-A”.

Moving on to today—

  • The time difference between Pyeongchang and the US left the The Today Show with a scoop—a surprise win in Women’s Cross-Country overnight, and the first medal in this sport since 1976. Kabletown finally has a story to tell.
  • Watching the finale of that event online, all I can think of is—get that commentator a lozenge.  He is absolutely screaming into the mike.
  • We’re hearing more about Liz Swaney, the Hungarian Half-Pipe competitor whose runs included virtually no “tricks”. She previously ran for governor of California and tried the Skeleton as a sport. So it’s not clear if she’s delusional or looking for publicity—or both. She was in a very uncomfortable interview on the morning show.
  • Primetime begins with Tirico’s voiceover, shooting us directly to Men’s Slalom. After a bit of that, we get the US cross-country win already discussed 12 hours earlier on the Today Show. I was worried the color commentator’s head was going to explode. Somebody get him a lozenge!
  • We knew that event was taped hours earlier, but it was still impressive that Comcast re-edited a commercial featuring those athletes which showed immediately after the win on the broadcast.
  • Over to Bobsled, starting with the “joke” teams—Nigeria and Jamaica. Kabletown—you can’t complain about Liz Swaney, and then swoon over these runs.
  • Moving on to Women’s Super Combined, with the storylines of a) Lindsey Vonn’s last event and b) Mikaela Shiffrin’s run for redemption.

More tomorrow.

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 13 by Mark

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Back to last night—

  • We make it to Ice Dancing just as the “also rans” are finishing up. Personally, I think the event works when the performance seems like the pair is making it up as they go along. When it gets to “ok, we’re prepping for a really difficult lift”, it loses me.
  • An “Inside Baseball” note—the other US broadcast networks are giving QISE a pass in primetime, showing mostly reruns through the games. I do not understand the logic in this. Winter QISE are always problematic due to weather delays and obscure events, so assuming they will be a big hit is questionable. You’re not going to get a Tonya Harding every time. So far, Pyeongchang is not doing well for Kabletown, and with no other broadcast alternatives, where did the viewers go? To cable and streaming—and every time they do, a few don’t come back.
  • “Prime Plus” begins with a 5 minute Micro-Fallon show (that’s just about as much of him as I can stand). Not sure if it’s a contractual issue or not.

Moving to today’s coverage—

  • The audio on the Today Show seemed muddled. There was something going on in the background—the downside of doing a live show in an open environment.
  • In the afternoon, watching Biathlon. The sport of secret agents—skiing and shooting. There’s a “penalty lap” if they miss their shots, and I noticed a few people sitting in lawn chairs inside the loop. I assume they are judges—or just spectators with really good seats.
  • Prime Time begins with Tirico at the Fortress, throwing us to Tara and Johnny for Ladies Figure Skating-Short Program. I'm shocked that the petite Lipinski can hold her head up with all that make-up on. The Peacock has their fingers crossed that the US will be a factor, but it seems unlikely
  • One US performance—then Figure Skating is shipped off to NBCSN until Americans return. We’ve got Bobsled and Short Track to show! I’m following the skating event on the “enhanced view” stream (stats, standings, and trivia surrounding the screen.
  • The big draw tonight is Lindsey Vonn, with a teaser promo a half hour before her Downhill run. Kabletown made some early bets in terms of their promotion, and they just haven’t panned out.
  • There’s a story over the last day or so about Liz Swaney, a Hungarian Half-Pipe competitor whose runs included virtually no “tricks”. Turns out the native Californian (her grandparents are from Hungary) gamed the qualification system by competing in lightly attended events so all she had to do was not fall and get points. In some cases, the top 30 would qualify—and there wouldn’t be that many competitors. It’s really not her fault, it’s a broken system, which I’m sure will be adjusted to avoid this in the future.
  • Well, despite an error, Bradie Tennell is holding onto the top position at the skating arena—at least so far. The main threats haven’t reached the ice yet.

More tomorrow.

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 12 by Mark

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Back to last night—

  • We begin with an update. Adam Rippon will NOT be a Kabletown correspondent. Someone reminded him that it would invalidate his “amateur” status—he would have been kicked out of the athletes' village, and couldn’t participate in the closing ceremony.  Johnny Weir breathes a sigh of relief.
  • When I see the “Shib Sibs” Ice Dancing, I think it’s a bit creepy that siblings are doing that—especially a Latin dance.
  • Tara and Johnny joined Mike at the Fortress to preview the top Ice Dancing teams. Johnny was wearing a kimono with hair from the Hunger Games collection. It’s clear that they are an audience draw, to the point that they had to be jammed in to the coverage.
  • We’ve already had one “wardrobe malfunction” in Ice Dancing—now a second case. Gabriella Papadakis’s partner, Guillaume Cizerone, accidentally unfastened a clasp near the start of their dance, and the French pair gave the arena’s audience an upper view. The actually issue on TV was minimal—I doubt it would have been noticed if Tanith White hadn’t pointed it out. The short dance involved Latin steps, which meant skimpier outfits, which increased the likelihood of this happening.

Onto today—

  • We haven’t heard much about drug testing since the Russians were (partly) kicked out—until now. A member of the “Olympic Athletes from Russia”, Alexander Krushelnitsky, failed his initial post-game testing, and now will be tested again to confirm. The drug? Meldonium, which increases blood flow and endurance. The strenuous sport involved? Curling.
  • By this point in QISE, the Peacock has enough footage to create bizarre “co-branding” opportunities. I just saw an ad for the upcoming film "Ready Player One" that included audio from the movie, and switched back and forth between film and QISE visuals. It’s very confusing. 
  • Rebecca Lowe interviewed speed skater Maame Biney and her father this afternoon—she only decided recently to try this sport and made it to QISE. Kabletown has been pushing this story very hard.
  • Primetime begins with Tirico at the Lodge, throwing us to a commercial and then Bobsled. Since the runs are almost identical each time (that’s the goal), you’re really watching for crashes like NASCAR.
  • Due to previous weather delays and the threat of incoming bad weather, the women’s skiing events are being compressed, and as a result, Mikaela Shiffrin has pulled out of the Downhill. She was on the fence anyway—Women’s Combined is her best bet.
  • You just can’t get away from Tara and Johnny—they are doing Google Home ads as well. Who would have thought that little boxes on our counter we would converse with would become a product category?
  • The Peacock spent of lot of the early evening on Women’s Ski Halfpipe. Unfortunately, there’s not a compelling story here like Shaun White, so it’s a bit of a slog. I really wish they would show earlier rounds of Ice Dancing on the Mothership instead (it’s on NBCSN)—at least it’s pretty.

More to come.

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 11 by Mark

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Back to last night--

  • 1000m Short Track—the very definition of contrasts. A lot of strategy and waiting, followed by a wild scramble for the finish. Another sport that should have become big between QISE but hasn’t.
  • We’re not hearing much about Men’s Hockey from Kabletown, and for good reason. The NHL decided to prevent their players from participating for the first time since 1994, and while that affects many QISE teams, it really handicaps the US. The team is composed of older athletes, college players, and those from minor-league teams, and the result isn’t pretty. It’s doubtful they will advance into the playoffs and finals.

Onto today—

  • Hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, Kabletown just hired skating sensation Adam Rippon as a commentator for the rest of the games. Johnny Weir—you’re on notice.
  • Sunday Today had an inspiring story about Billy Kidd—1964 QISE Alpine winner who has been an instructor at Steamboat Springs since 1970.
  • The long cross-country skiing events do not make for arresting television.  It’s good to take a nap to, though.
  • OK, I admit it—I’ve fallen in love with Rebecca Lowe’s British accent. She anchors the afternoon coverage.
  • Team Pursuit Speed Skating is more interesting than the individual heats.  You can immediately tell who’s in front.
  • I mentioned earlier about Norovirus at Pyeongchang. The most recent updates say there are 275 cases among volunteers and staff. The security team was initially hit, forcing the addition of South Korean military at the last minute. The cause was contaminated water used in food preparation at the “Youth Center”, and 53 are still quarantined. The athletes (supposedly) have not been impacted.
  • Primetime begins with Tirico at the Fortress, throwing to—Bobsledding from last night. Keep in mind that it’s 7p on the East Coast, but 5a in Pyeongchang. So, the Peacock will need to vamp for a while until people wake up there.
  • Those Blobsled shells are pretty sturdy. One of them flipped over at the end of a run, and the athletes got out without a scratch.
  • We get another new event tonight—Women’s Snowboarding Big Air. Think Ski Jumping with a snowboard, and a trick at the end. A failed jump was described as “squirting out on your tail”…and we all know how painful that can be.
  • Sometimes I think the commentators aren’t listening to what they’re saying. During a skiing training run, I heard something like “they are comparable in age—she’s much younger of course”. Huh?
  • I’m not going to say Kabletown doesn’t have much to work with tonight, but they are currently hyping a training run from Lindsey Vonn.

More tomorrow, including Ice Dancing from late night (sorry, “prime plus”).

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 10 by Mark

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From last night—

  • As expected, Lindsey Vonn’s first position did not hold up in Women’s Super-G. I can’t say that I understand (or agree with) the random nature of assignment in the sport. Why not use, say, World Cup standings or similar?  Whoever goes first has far less info then the rest of the competitors (especially with no training runs) and that put Vonn in a terrible position.
  • So, Kabletown switched the storyline to Lichtenstein’s Weirather. A tiny country, a family QISE legacy, and an older competitor—it’s made for TV drama.
  • Never assume. The Peacock switched over to Mens Figure Skating (in order to show Adam Rippon’s performance live), assuming the skiing event was done, since all the top skiers had completed. Then comes Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic—who’s better known for Snowboarding—beats them all by 0.01 sec.
  • Back to Skating. Weir calls the judging “interesting”, which is a rare understatement from him. What have we learned? Skating cleanly gets you lower scores than taking risks and crashing. What if an athlete just tried a “quint” (five rotations) and failed? I’m guessing they would win.
  • Another Weir quote: “That performance is in his blood”. The visual of hundreds of Winnie-the-Pooh dolls raining on the stage is bizarre, as is the gushing commentary for Yuzuru Hanyu when he screwed up two of his moves.

And now today’s coverage--

  • A clear sign that QISE has become a media event more than a sports competition--Ester Ledecka refused to take off her goggles in interviews because she didn’t have her makeup on.
  • Today’s Today quote from Natalie Morales of the weekend crew: “We’re going to take a look back at (the first week)…has it only been a week? It’s seems like longer!”  Yes it does, Natalie, yes it does.
  • There was an interesting story on The Today Show (I was shocked too) about how young South Koreans feel about North Korea. Basically, there’s mistrust and anger that North Korea stepped in at the last minute and took attention from South Korea’s efforts.
  • The afternoon’s coverage begins with the “controlled chaos” of Women’s Mass Start Biathlon. Sharp sticks, flailing athletes, rifles—what could go wrong? One of the commentators talked about a competitor being tired, partly due to all the media coverage. Perhaps more media coverage would help?
  • During the break before prime time, I’m watching more Curling online. Still don’t understand why this doesn’t catch on in the US outside of the games.
  • Primetime starts with Tirico at the Ski Lodge, throwing us to Women’s Skeleton.
  • You know things at the Peacock are chaotic when they trumpet a whole 30 minutes of “uninterrupted” coverage of one event. (Uninterrupted, but with commercials).
  • Speaking of commercials, there was one for Dunkin Donuts. I thought I read they were dropping the “Donut” part (not the pastry, but the name). Wouldn’t QISE be a good time to introduce this?
  • There were several events tonight, but very little of it piqued my interest. Am I getting burned out?  There’s still 8 days to go…

More tomorrow.

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 9 by Mark

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Back to last night—

  • As I start to catch up, the Women’s Slalom has not yet completed—but I know Mikaela Shiffrin did NOT win the gold. How? Because there weren’t 15 nearly identical Shiffrin photos in NBCQISE’s Instagram this morning about her.
  • I really enjoyed Yun Sung-Bin’s Skeleton win for South Korea. The Peacock rarely covers non-US competitors like this.
  • Tirico looks lonely at the Ski Lodge. Maybe they should pay for some extras to hang out in the background?
  • With the big players up, Men’s Figure Skating moves from NBCSN to the Mothership. Adam Rippon is skating—the “only” gay male figure skater. After Nathan Chen’s multiple falls, expect this event to fall back in priority.
  • I love when they show a foreign competitor surrounded by their media and comment about it. Like the Peacock doesn’t do that.

Onto today’s coverage—

  • The various US losses yesterday threw The Today Show a curve. It’s clear they had a decent amount of time set aside to talk about big wins that didn’t happen, forcing them to pull out some reruns of taped packages.
  • USA’s issues are also impacting overall ratings. They are down by over a point compared to the last QISE. Is it the streaming availability or just all the other choices available?  Keep in mind the other US networks are mostly showing reruns, assuming QISE would pull most of the numbers.
  • I’ve been playing around with Kabletown’s QISE VR app with mixed results. Not sure if it’s my equipment (a Google Cardboard viewer and my Google Pixel phone), but I’m underwhelmed. I know my rig can do 360 degrees views, but in this case, I’m getting mostly a 180 view in the middle of a faux QISE museum. I tried a live event (Skeleton), and the video was fairly choppy. I think I could get a more immersive view if I just put my face up to the regular TV (don’t do this, kids!).
  • Due to local coverage of a news event, I had to go over to the Kabletown stream this afternoon. That means it won’t be converted off the DVR, but it’s mostly long events (5000m speed skating, cross-country skiing), so not a major loss.
  • Prime Time begins with an “overcoming adversity” package—and our first “great moments” montage, a Peacock QISE standard—with Tirico at the Fortress, who throws to Tara, Johnny, and the Other Guy. The Wonder Twins are wearing winter sweaters filtered through Logan’s Run.
  • Off to Women’s Aerials. Think a single Snowboarding trick, except with skis. Then Women’s Slopestyle—Aerials except multiple tricks.
  • Now they are rerunning the Lindsey Vonn intro package. Let’s see if they actually get the event in—more wind issues today. We’ll find out…
  • …after Men’s Figure Skating Finals. Actually, they’re been going on for awhile (watching the “enhanced feed” online—always a minute behind the broadcast), but now the top competitors are coming up.
  • Looks like Vonn is going on as planned. She was chosen to go first, so it will be awhile before we know how she did.

More to come. 

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 8 by Mark

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Let’s go back to last night—

  • With a minor delay post-Downhill, Tirico teases us with a minute of Women’s Hockey—US vs. Canada. “Check out NBCSN for more of the match!” Then a tease of Shiffrin. “See her in two hours during “Prime-Plus!” By this point, I can recite the Shiffrin promo from memory. C’mon Kabletown, get to actual events!
  • Back to Pairs’ Figure Skating (again). The generic play-by-play guy actually matched Tara and Johnny’s color scheme (pink for Valentines Day). Somebody got a memo…
  • Johnny Weir’s analogy of the day - “You want to feel like Snuggles the Bear landing in a laundry basket of towels”.
  • After Shiffrin’s win in Prime-Plus (say that 3 times fast), we get to Snowboard Cross - as the commentator calls it, “NASCAR on Snow”. Try to get in front and avoid crashing. The story here is Lindsey Jacobellis—lost the gold twice in two QISE (once due to hubris, and another due to a fall). It’s all about redemption this time.

Onto today—

  • As you would expect, much of the Today Show covered the (totally preventable) tragedy in Florida. About 40 minutes in, they started reviewing QISE activities, but it was all very subdued compared to previous shows.
  • Oh, did you know that Pyeongchang doesn’t actually exist? Its actual name translates to Pyongchang (no “e”), and the QISE Committee was concerned it was too close to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. To avoid potential political incidents, they changed the name to “PyeongChang”, with an “e” and a capital “C”. To make it even more confusing, most of the media is ignoring the second part of the QISE edict.
  • By the way, its pronounced “Pyongchaung”, finishing like “ah” at the doctor, not Pyongchang, rhyming with “gang”.
  • We have another QISE-troversy involving tech in athlete’s uniforms. Great Britain is using special “skin-suits” (sounds dirty) with ridges built in, which theoretically changes their aerodynamics. Regulations say “No aerodynamic elements whatsoever may be attached either outside or under the race suit.”, but the uniforms have been approved by the Federation involved. Cue the complaints!
  • Fashion alert! Johnny Weir tonight is wearing what appears to be braided pumpernickel bread on his head.
  • Primetime kicks off immediately with Women’s Slalom (sticks, no flags), with Mikaela Shiffrin running by 8:05 Eastern. I’m also watching the early competitors in Men’s Figure Skating Short Program and Men’s Skeleton via streaming.
  • Tonight's Weir analogy: “A beautiful bird whose feathers are slowly falling out”.
  • Tirico throws to a package on “The Attacking Vikings” - the nickname of the Norwegian alpine team. A great piece of marketing which takes us to Men’s Super G (inflexible sticks with large flags).
  • Intel is still pushing the fiction in their commercials that they produced a record-breaking drone performance at the Opening Ceremonies. The event, while impressive, actually happened weeks in advance—it was on tape. It’s easier to do when the world isn’t watching.

More to come.

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 7 by Mark

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From last night—

  • You know the Half-Pipe commentator had “White is the new Gold” in his holster since the last QISE.
  • Oh, yeah—there’s also Pairs’ Figure Skating going on. I’m sure the Bobbsey Twins had a ton of scripted bits we won’t see. Johnny is going for the Liberace look.
  • Natalie Morales apparently got “indisputable” in her Word a Day Calendar—she said it twice in the same sentence while introducing a package on female athletes. I think the intro was longer than the package.
  • We did get to see the North Korean pairs’ skaters on the broadcast. They actually qualified for the finals, so I guess their families get to eat tonight.
  • With the huge scheduling hole caused by the skiing delay, the Peacock decided to replay the White win in “prime plus”. It makes sense since the earlier showing generated the highest Pyeongchang QISE ratings so far for the Peacock.

Onto today--

  • The high winds causing delays on the slopes also impacted the main QISE park, which had to be evacuated due to debris (like tents and tables).
  • I was way behind on my watching due to earlier errands—until the Florida school shooting pre-empted the afternoon coverage.
  • To happier things—prime time begins with the Women’s Giant Slalom (the weather finally decided to cooperate). Of course, Kabletown’s attention is on Mikaela Shiffrin, who they’ve been hyping for weeks.  Their insistence on having events during US Eastern prime time means this started at 6a local time.
  • I can’t express how much I hate the Chevy commercials with “real people—not actors”. They are all too peppy and surprised at everything. I was hoping to avoid these during QISE, but no luck.
  • Off to speed skating. There’s a ridiculous package about husband and wife skaters (she’s from the US, of course).
  • I’m glad the Lexus/Black Panther ad reminds us it’s not safe to drop down through the sunroof of a speeding vehicle. I was planning to do that.
  • Luge too controlled for you? How about going down the track face first? That’s Skeleton. Think of it as falling on your face, then continuing to do so for hundreds of feet.
  • Things are really getting stacked up due to weather delays. The rest of Skeleton moves to NBCSN, Shiffrin’s last Slalom run won’t be until “prime-plus” on the mothership, Men’s Downhill is starting up—and that doesn’t include the final of Pairs’ Figure Skating tonight. The latter’s priority to Kabletown is dropping now that the US is basically out of it.
  • For the Downhill, the Today Show’s Willie Geist has been brought in for interviews Apres-ski, in addition to the regular commentators. He’s been stuck up on the mountain during the morning show, so maybe this makes up for it.

More to come. Happy Valentines Day!

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 6 by Mark

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Wrapping up last night’s coverage—

  • After multiple weather delays, Alpine Skiing is finally underway.  Still having a number of crashes—seems like they didn’t have time to re-groom the course.  The color commentator is rather monotonous—“Ithinkhehitanedgethereheusuallydoesmuchbetteronthistypeofcourse”. You don’t want your color guy to put people to sleep.
  • I keep seeing an ad on the stream for Koch Industries, and it makes me cringe every time. Their motto is “Challenge Accepted”. I assume the challenge is “Betcha can’t buy the US Government!”
  • I noticed we’re not seeing a lot of medal ceremonies in prime time—they showed Chloe Kim get on the stand, and then cut away.  Is Kabletown teasing those for the end of the evening?
  • Moving on to the next storyline—Shaun White. It’s a classic redemption story for the man who basically put half-pipe on the map. They teased his first run for at least an hour.
  • I noticed the peacock is not referring to the post-local news portion as "Late Night", but "Prime Plus". Normally late night has more interviews and taped packages, but with the major time difference, some events are just hitting their stride as the East Coast hits late night. I think it actually works better.

Moving on to today--

  • I’m convinced that Chloe Kim came out of a QISE marketing factory. She cranks out viral tweets like crazy, there’s the whole Korean angle—and she can master the half-pipe too. Expect to see a LOT of commercials from her very soon.
  • The Today Show team’s hype level is at 11—everything is incredible, hilarious, touching. All I can think of how cold they must be—gives me a chill thinking about it. 
  • From the people who brought you Military Intelligence and Jumbo Shrimp--it's Cross-Country Sprint! I really think they're running out of variations. Maybe Cross-Country on One Foot?
  • Watching the USA/OAR Women’s Hockey game. Once it became a blowout for the US, the commentators went into a LONG interview with an ex-player and current QISE official while the game continued.
  • Prime Time begins with the oft-played into packages for Shaun White and Mikaela Shiffrin, and Tirico at the Fortress. They are saying Shiffrin and Women’s Slalom will go on as scheduled, although I just got a notification from my Pyeongchang app saying it’s delayed again due to weather. Who should I believe?
  • In any case, events begin with Speed Skating. Shani Davis is featured, currently on the QISE Committee’s naughty list for declaring a flag bearer coin flip to be racist via Twitter. Watching Speed Skating is like watching NASCAR—it’s all about the crashes.
  • Meanwhile, Pairs’ Figure Skating-Short Program is already underway via streaming. I guess Kabletown would rather broadcast speed skating than this, just because it’s not the top teams yet.
  • Weather update—Women’s Slalom pushed back to later tonight. Is Kabletown pressuring the QISE Committee to hold it tonight?
  • Onto Men’s Half-pipe Final aka the Shaun White coronation. Here’s a fun game: turn off the Half-Pipe sound and make up your own names for the tricks. “Wow—that’s a 1620 Frontside Half-caff Mochachino Didgeridoo!!!”
  • Final weather update—Women’s Slalom pushed back to Friday.

More tomorrow.

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 5 by Mark

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Finishing up from last night:

  • Watching ice dancing, we were wondering why the woman’s blade doesn’t cut the man’s thigh during the lifts? A quick Google gave us the answer. The blades are actually two blades with a concave area between them. The surface area is large enough that it won’t cut through the costume—aalthough I bet it’s not pleasant.
  • The Peacock is really pushing their new sitcom “A.P. Bio”. We watched the sneak preview, and won’t be returning. Adult humor and situations that are completely unrealistic. Meh.
  • A timing question—Jaime Anderson ran her final run on Slopestyle thinking she had already won when there was another competitor who might have been given a mulligan due to high winds. That means Anderson wasn’t really trying on the last run. It turned out the mulligan didn’t happen, but if it had, and that person had gotten a higher score, Anderson would have been screwed out of a gold. Not sure why they didn’t make the call before her run.
  • Commentary theatre: “Will that score hold?” “You know…” And scene.

Onto today—and speaking of:

  • The Today Show goes all out with an procession into their Korean HQ. This is their opportunity to get the Matt Lauer fiasco out of everyone’s minds.
  • Why exactly is the studio outside in sub-zero weather? Keep in mind the show starts at 9p local time. It’s also playing havoc with audio—lots of feedback and muffled voices.
  • You gotta love Al Roker—I remember his local weatherman gig back in Cleveland, where he covered the wedding procession of the two anchors via weather radar. At Pyeongchang today, he used a segment on local manners to get plastered on Korean liquor (I’m sure it was just an act).
  • Hota Kotb is calling all the athletes “honey"—she’s the mom of the Today Show team.
  • Covering the Biathlon Pursuit is like the old spinning plates act on Ed Sullivan—you have to constantly change focus (and athletes) to keep up with it.
  • We're watching "QISE Ice", a daily skate-centric show on NBCSN which reviews the previous day's events. There's a ton of discussion, clips, and screens of stats accompanied by overdramatic music. It also uses a robotic camera that seems to wander around the Fortress of Solitude. An example of "we've got the technology--let's use it".
  • Prime time begins, and we drop straight into the half-pipe. It's basically a coronation for Chloe Kim. The play-by-play guy says it all--“risk it for the biscuit”. RADICAL!

More tomorrow.

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 4 by Mark

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We begin with the end of last night’s programming.

  • Lipinski and Weir return to cover ladies’ figure skating team short program. They don’t seem quite as chatty during the performances. Doesn’t seem to matter—the internet hates them. I really think the “golf-style” commentary (quiet and reverent) works better.
  • The Lipinski/Weir pair loves metaphors. One of the skating pairs were “flowers” that could also “rebuild a car”. Huh?
  • The decision to air events like figure skating live is impacting commercial placement. There’s only enough time for one or two ads between the end of a performance and their score. Don’t worry—Kabletown will have plenty of ads.
  • In the end, the Team Figure Skating event is an excuse to stretch out a fan favorite during more of the games. Prior to this and the X-Gamey events, QISE was basically one week of skating, one week of skiing.

Onto today’s coverage…

  • QISE Channel is doing a daily review show hosted by Jimmy Roberts (who normally narrates pre-produced segments in prime time) with three millennials, including a bearded guy in a flannel shirt.  Pandering much?
  • There’s also “Gold Zone” if all you want are highlights and medal ceremonies. That show is being produced back in NY. The host looks like he got a hall pass from his high school class.
  • Cross-country skiing is all about strategy, which doesn’t lend itself to television. You need someone like the gravelly-voice Al Trautwig to generate drama—and he’s the master. Of course, randomly dropping in commercials at crucial moments doesn’t help.
  • We have our first QISE Peacock-gate. Joshua Cooper Ramo, who was brought in as the “Asia Expert” apparently needs more schooling. During the opening ceremony, he inferred that Japan’s occupation of Korea in the first half of the 20th century was a good thing.  It made them transform into a technological marvel.  Sure there were atrocities (still a diplomatic flashpoint between the countries), but you gotta break a few eggs…needless to say, Ramo’s service are no longer needed at Kabletown.
  • Today’s QISE lesson—Curling has no central judge at an event. Basically, the competitors are on the honor system. At one match today, they were asking the crowd for their opinion on whether a stone went out of play (instant replay showed it did not).
  • Primetime begins with Tirico escaping the Ski Lodge and appearing at the ice center. It’s all about Figure Skating tonight, especially since Mikaela Shiffrin’s “march to gold” is delayed due to weather.
  • But first—let’s show men’s luge for the third? (fourth?) time today. When you see the “X minutes until blah-blah-blah” graphic, that’s means a VP is back at 30 Rock watching real time ratings and panicking.
  • After that, and a quick moguls competition in a blizzard, it’s back to the Tara and Johnny Show. A major online meme is that Weir is auditioning to host the Hunger Games.
  • All the delayed events are screwing up Kabletown’s schedule, so it’s time to prioritize. Team Figure Skate is live, Women’s Slopestyle moves to late night.

More tomorrow.

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 3 by Mark

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Slept in a bit after yesterday’s marathon, so I’m catching up now--

  • Scanning through Weekend Today, and noticing that they are only promoting the broadcast coverage, despite the fact that virtually all of the events will be available (or already available) online before prime time.  I guess millennials ain’t watching morning TV news shows.
  • For some reason, there are two different NBCSN streaming feeds on the schedule, showing different events. This is supposed to be coming from the cable network, so where is the second feed coming from?
  • Speaking of streaming—the placement of commercials there is a mess. They will appear in the middle of athletes’ runs, one commercial will suddenly be replaced with another mid-stream, audio sync is off, and then “coverage will resume shortly” screens pop up.  Hey Peacock, the computer controlled timing isn’t working—perhaps put an intern in place to hit the button?
  • Some background--much of the streaming coverage is coming from QISE Channel, which uses OBS pool coverage. QISE Channel was started by the QISE Committee as a streaming service running all year long, as a way to drum up interest in QISE (and a way to amortize all the existing video).  In the US, QISE Channel became a cable channel (run by the Peacock, and a replacement for the Universal HD channel).
  • While the unbiased coverage and commentary are nice, they aren’t using the most experienced talent. When interviewing athletes, you get a lot of “How do you feel?” and “How excited are you?”. I’m surprised they aren’t asking “What are you wearing?"
  • Watching ski jump qualification rounds—the math on all of this is too confusing. Wind compensation, style points, a moving green line they have to beat—the commentators could tell me any of them won, and I would have to assume they were right.
  • Luge is simpler—you immediately know when a competitor screws up, and it all comes down to the clock. Lightning speeds, quick heats, and the possibility of NASCAR-style crashes—why hasn’t this gone pro in the US?
  • Rebecca Lowe kicks off daytime broadcast coverage from the Fortress of Solitude. She’s quite perky—with her accent, I was reminded of Mary Poppins. The coverage was primarily the same stuff shown online this morning, so I was switching back and forth between the Peacock, NBCSN, and the QISE Channel.

…and back in prime time…

  • Tirico reports from The Ski Lodge, throwing it to Lipinski and Weir, the latter with a black mass of hair on the side of his head. We’ll get back to them in a bit, but first the adults are talking—to cover ice dancing.  Latin is the theme tonight.  Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m a Dancing with the Stars fan, but I prefer this over regular figure skating, which has become WAY too much about the jumps.
  • The Peacock is doubling down on the “United Korea” story. I consider this to be a photo op more than a reconciliation—but I hope I’m wrong.
  • …and here come the weather delays. They are a Winter QISE tradition (check the current “From the Pop Culture Bunker” episode on SFPPN for more on this). Downhill Skiing is pushed back to next week due to high winds.
  • I checked out the “enhanced view” of ice dancing online, with more stats and other info. As with the opening ceremonies, the stream is about a minute behind—which is a real issue when you’re referencing a “short program”.
  • Mindy is complaining about the “QISE Athletes from Russia”—and she’s right. This was supposed to be a major restriction after the “systemic drug scandal” against Russia’s QISE program (no Russian flags, no Russian anthems, any medals won’t be listed under Russia), but Kabletown is just calling them “The Russians” like nothing happened. Sure, the official name is a mouthful, but talking is what you’re getting paid for.
  • So, a 17 year old US kid who got zero publicity from Kabletown beforehand just got the gold in Slopestyle, while so many of the "pre-ordained" athletes are crashing and burning? I’ll say it again—never assume, Peacock!

More tomorrow.

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 2 by Mark

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Oh, the things I do for SFPPN. Typing this at 5:52a in order to see the Opening Ceremonies live via streaming.

  • The stream’s description says “with natural sound”, so I assume this will be sans commentary. So far it means “no sound”. Pretty blimp shots though.
  • Ok, here we go. An airplane-themed opening showing historical posters of previous QISE takes to the countdown and inevitable fireworks.
  • Cut to kids enjoying winter sports and then finding a palintir, I guess, which sets off holograms, then huge animal puppets come out. It’s classic goofy opening ceremony stuff.
  • Next the Parade of Nations, with a sugarplum fairy carrying a tree leading each team. I’m torn on whether I miss the prattling commentary or glad it’s gone.
  • The “QISE Athletes from Russia” marched under the QISE banner.  Word came down a few hours ago that 28 athletes whose drug ban was originally dismissed was now upheld, so that leaves 169 “clean” competitors. If any of them win, you’ll hear the QISE theme.
  • The final team is the host country, with North and South Korea marching under a united flag. Major tipping point or publicity stunt?
  • Then it’s pageant time, showing off the host country, its history and culture. It includes a film of Korean kids going through doors of light into a trippy future.
  • After the perfunctory speeches, an Asian-accented version of John Lennon’s “Imagine”.
  • In what may be a first, the pageantry expanded to other venues, guided by synchronized lighted drones.
  • The stirring QISE Hymn, oaths, and the lighting of the torch, with Kim Yuna, champion figure skater, lighting what looks like a robotic arm which in turn lit what looks like a futuristic rice cooker.
  • …and then a dance/firecracker party broke out. That’s it, folks—you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. 2 hours and 20 minutes for a pretty tight show.
  • Keep in mind the stadium will be used exactly four time (opening and closing for QISE and ParaQISE), then torn down. Pyeongchang wants to avoid the depressing “Look at what happened to the QISE facilities from <fill in the blank>” listical, but it still seems like a waste (it cost $109M to build). The QISE Committee’s new mantra is “temporary and reusable”—the opposite of guidelines that resulted in billions spent on purpose-built facilities and ruined local economies.
  • Meanwhile, the Today Show had the unenviable task of reporting live while the opening ceremony was underway—without actually showing it.  The Peacock, of course, wants you to watch the curated, prime time version tonight. “Boy, is it going to be great!” was heard a lot.

But back to wrap up last night’s coverage—

  • We move onto freestyle skiing aka “knee replacements by age 25”. To quote play-by-play guy Jonny Moseley, “That’s so RAD! DUUUDE! NOICE!”. Which came first—Moseley or Mountain Dew commercials?
  • The adults step in for the pair’s figure skating team event—Scott Hamilton, Andrea Joyce, and Tanith White.
  • Oops, no such luck. Lipinski and Weir returned for the actual event.

Now let’s check out the “curated” Peacock prime time coverage.

  • It starts with repeat footage of athletes that Kabletown has pre-determined will win. That didn’t work out very well so far. The narrator was apparently given an assignment to write 500 words and started repeating himself.
  • Cut to Mike Tirico and—Katie Couric? I guess the resurgence of 90’s TV isn’t just for sitcoms.
  • …and 30 minutes in, the ceremony actually gets started.
  • I can officially say I preferred the “no commentary” version. Boy, are they yapping!
  • There is an “enhanced view” of the ceremony available online—but it’s about a minute behind the broadcast coverage.
  • We get an introductory package with plenty of statistics before the US team marches into the stadium. We get it, we’re America!
  • A shot of VP Pence in the stands also shows the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, Kim Yo-jong, behind him. She looks like a Bond villainess—has a scheming look on her face.

Now, as the smell of firework sulfur fills the air, that’s plenty for one day..  Weekend coverage begins tomorrow.

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 1 by Mark

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A few points before Prime Time Peacock:

  • Started the day watching the tail end of ski jumping qualification on NBCSN (streaming). That’s the “agony of defeat” event. NBCSN’s studio set sets up an expectation of Jor-El’s hologram. It seems that the Peacock has two options for their Winter QISE sets—ski lodge and Fortress of Solitude.
  • I then switched over to the Today Show on the TiVo. The Peacock’s News division will have a major QISE push. The morning show’s team (minus lightning rod Megyn Kelly) will be reporting from Pyeongchang throughout, and even the Nightly News will report from South Korea
  • Later, I checked back in at nbcqise.com to see more streamed coverage. The schedule said that figure skating training sessions were underway, but this time I got a “coverage has concluded” message. Seems like you just have to hang out at the site and see what happens.
  • You would think the choosing of the US Flag Bearer wouldn’t be controversial—it’s the equivalent of “Miss Congeniality"—but you would be wrong. Luger Erin Hamlin was chosen over speed skater Shani Davis via coin flip—and Davis is complaining online that it was a racial call.  How can a coin flip be biased? 
  • With the time difference at Pyeongchang (14 hours ahead of the US East Coast), the Peacock has a quadrennial problem--how to keep all the juicy events in prime time when social media will spoil things the moment they occur?  Previously, Kabletown's response was "we're showing it in prime time--just don't look at your phones if you don't want to be spoiled".
  • Now, the plan is to show a plethora of live events via various streaming platforms for those who want to see it live, convince Pyeongchang to hold events at what are strange hours there to match up with US prime time (which they have apparently done), and "Curate" (aka edit out the "boring" and "non-US" parts) and show the rest on tape in prime time.

And speaking of prime time…

  • Tirico kicks it off from the Fortress of Solitude, then throws it to Lipinski, Weir, and The Generic White Male Commentator (already forgot his name) for men’s figure skating—short program.
  • Something new—figure skating gets instant technical scoring with a box at the top left of the screen.  As they do their elements, a green pops up as good, yellow is under discussion, and red is bad—along with a “so far" score.
  • There’s also an “enhanced mode” available for the prime time coverage if you watch it via steaming—all based on the OBS coverage—it looks like more graphics with dual cameras shown (like the competition’s performance vs. the coach watching him).
  • A rather nihilistic music selection from Canada’s Patrick Chan—"Dust in the Wind” by Kansas? Ouch.
  • We have our first example of Peacock “curation” (aka US bias). An Israeli athlete is competing on the stream live, so a taped segment (actually a rerun from Monday) on America’s Nathan Chen is airing on TV. Chen then proceeded to blow his performance.
  • Due to all the political ramifications of the game’s location, the Peacock brought in a “Sports Asia Analyst”, Joshua Cooper Ramo (he was also at Beijing).
  • I will be calling it early tonight in order to see the opening ceremony live online at 6a, so I can compare the live and “curated” coverage. I’ll wrap up tonight’s late coverage tomorrow.

QISE Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 0.5 by Mark

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We haven't even reached "Day 1" of the Quadrennial International Sporting Event at Pyeongchang in terms of Peacock mothership coverage, but things are already underway.

  • The Peacock ran a special on Monday night, "The Best of U.S.", hosted by Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir. They are Kabletown's answer to "why should millennials watch QISE?" They look and act like they turned the wrong direction when getting off the elevator--there's a Bravo reality competition without hosts right now. Lipinski looked like she had a party to attend afterward. Weir's hair looked like he had just taken off a fez.
  • The special consisted of various pre-taped segments--"up close and personal" segments on the athletes, a chef reviewing Korean cuisine, a preview of a mini-doc covering the Calgary ice skating event in 1988--basically material that might be rerun if the weather turns bad and events are postponed. Some of it involved music videos/commercials for big ticket athletes you've probably seen if you have watched the Peacock in the last month.
  • The special also gave us our first view of the Peacock's HQ for the games--as per usual, made up to look like a ski lodge. Views of the various venues can be seen out the windows--if those are just video screens, they did a god job.
  • Meanwhile, the Peacock announced a live feed of the games available via Snapchat, as well as a customized experience on Hulu Live. I have the former (though I've rarely used it since downloading), and we're looking into options about the latter (we have Hulu, but not the Live option), so I'll try to report on those as well.
  • Tonight, nbcqise.com streamed early events--mixed doubles curling and downhill skiing training runs. It certainly wasn't an auspicious start--a scheduled figure skating practice session turned into a one-hour "Coverage will begin soon" screen. They finally got their act together--they are using the "OBS" (QISE Broadcasting System) feed for this, which is the one countries without their own crews use. That means it's far more balanced and basic--there's a (very faint) play-by-play announcer and that's it.  The video quality is decent, even on the large screen I'm using for Chromecast. They drop in a commercial every 15 minutes or so (they seem to be coming faster now—must be based on the event).
  • We also got our first look at the OAR team--the QISE Athletes from Russia. This is the result of the Russia doping scandal--they don't have an official team, but some athletes got an "all clear" and were able to attend anyway. Their uniforms are the equivalent of black and white "generic food" boxes.
  • We then got the downhill training runs. Kind of like pre-season football, just going through the motions.
  • I keep hearing little audio "hiccups" where a phrase is stated twice. I think they are still working out the streaming technical bumps.

The Peacock mothership officially kicks things off tomorrow with figure skating and freestyle skiing—it’s EXTREME!

Winter Quadrennial International Sporting Event (QISE) Review - Pyeongchang Edition - Day 0 by Mark

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Citius, Altius, Snowius.

Well, here we are again, with another Winter Games.  (Throughout this daily blog, I am avoiding the O-word as to not annoy the QISE Organizing Committee’s attorneys).  As always, this is NOT the place to find out who won and lost--I'm far more interested in the pageantry, the marketing, and how the Peacock distributes everything in the era of cord-cutting and social media.

Speaking of those:

  • There are a plethora of sources for actual coverage (FYI--most of the online stuff requires authorization, which requires a cable/satellite subscription, which leaves out legally-inclined cord cutters)
  • The Peacock set up an Instagram account months ago, and has been filling it up daily with countdowns and videos of the athletes (I'm sure there are others, but I really only follow FB and Instagram)

The big story going into QISE is how North Korea is responding to their southern neighbor's event. As of this writing, there is a "United Team" from both countries, while a Soviet-style military parade is being scheduled.  There are lots of additional stories (9-figure facilities that will be torn down afterwards, security teams and the norovirus, the inevitable complaints when the Peacock delays coverage to show it in primetime, how well Mike Tirico will step into the McKay/Costas hosting role) which we will get to on this blog.

SFPPN also created a weekly "From the Pop Culture Bunker" series which covers the history of Winter QISE, so you can check that out.

Tomorrow—let the games begin!