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!

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 16 by Mark

We’ve reached the end of the line...
  • The Peacock’s big event last night was Matt Lauer’s interview with Mr. Lochtegate himself—it was hyped throughout the evening and showed late.  Then, they held what are presumably the best bits to air on the Today Show on Monday.
  • Lochte apparently considers himself a hero because he waited to recant his lie until the other swimmers were back in the US.  Meanwhile, the network accidentally created a social media story after Al Roker went off on Lochte apologist Billy Bush on the Today show.  Or perhaps it was planned so the Peacock could hedge their bets?
  • In any case, Lochte is watching his endorsements evaporate en masse.  Oh, and the QISEOC says there will be further actions taken against the swimmers—cue the synchronized slapping of wrists...
  • Hey, we finally got Rhythmic Gymnastics on the Peacock mothership—at least for an hour.
  • Worst QISE commercial? People being shocked that Chevrolet has a car elevator.
  • Prime time began with Costas and Michaels at the Rio Apple Store, tempting fate by saying how things went off without a major hitch. Guys—you’ve still got the Closing Ceremonies...
  • Speaking of—Tirico, Seacrest, and Carillo walked us through another soggy QISE finale (“curated” for your protection).
  • Dancers dressed up as red clay dolls? Not creepy at all.
  • The Prime Minister of Japan just changed into Super Mario so he could get to the Closing Ceremony on time! There’s no doubt that the Tokyo 2020 games will be bizarre.
That will do it. I’ll be back in 2018 with Winter QISE coverage from PyeongChang!

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 15 by Mark

Starting with the previous night...
  • Men’s platform diving began with a mini-doc on British diver Tom Daley. The beginning made me think I was watching a Calvin Klein “Obsession” ad, but it turned into something that used to be common during QISE—an “up close and personal” story about his coming out as gay.
  • Costas seemed annoyed to hand off a shortened prime time session last night to a “special” episode of the “hit comedy” SuperStore—almost as annoyed as the viewers were, I suspect.  It didn’t help that they were running several minutes late, so if you were DVRing the games, you were screwed.
  • There were a lot of team sports during daytime coverage—volleyball, basketball, water polo—so I may have burned out the fast forward button on my DVR’s remote.  I think I got through 4 hours of coverage in about 15 minutes.  The Triathlon was interesting, though.
  • Prime Time began awkwardly, with a cold open showing the climax of the gold medal soccer match (Brazil won, so I doubt anyone in Rio cares about anything else tonight), then a quick cut to yet more live running!
  • Coming up next, the Men’s 4x400 relay fina—sorry, we’re breaking in for local weather coverage!  That continued for over 10 minutes, during which time the weatherman repeated the same info about 400 times.  I know the local station has a responsibility, but isn’t that why they have two other digital channels?  I’m sure they would hate to break into a Law & Order: SVU rerun being shown in the wrong resolution, but maybe they could make an exception for QISE?
  • BTW—during the weather fiasco, I determined that the Peacock’s online “live” coverage is at least 90 seconds behind the broadcast.
One more day left...

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 14 by Mark

Starting with the previous night..
  • Lochtegate has given Costas actual screen time beyond prime time intros and wrapups. We got to see the gas station security cams that prove the robbery story was fabricated. The QISEOC clearly wants this to go away, asking reporters to “give them a break”. Basically, boys will be boys.
  • By the next morning, Lochte and the QISEOC admitted the lie. Another swimmer, Jimmy Feigen, paid $11,000 to a charity to get his passport back. I guess you can buy your way out on minor offenses in Brazil. The other two swimmers were allowed to leave as well.
  • We also learned that Rio is covered by security cameras—the authorities literally showed a timeline taking them from point to point, all the way to the infamous gas station.
  • I’ve heard many turns of phrase in diving commentary, but last night was a new one from Cynthia Potter - “She is diving lights out”. So her eyes are closed? Huh?
  • The Peacock suffered from technical problems that shut down the MTV Beach House, forcing Costas to lead off late night from the Rio Apple Store, then going to a rerun of the US Volleyball loss. Oops! Maybe Ryan Seacrest is hanging out with Lochte...
  • During the daytime coverage I heard a dichotomy between the elegant Equestrian event and Melanie Smith-Taylor’s comment after a missed jump—“What a bummer!"
  • More and more running heats in prime time. Meanwhile, we got about 3 minutes of BMX coverage this afternoon, and I’ve yet to see rhythmic gymnastics. Guess I will need to go online to see that.
More to come.

 

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 13 by Mark

Starting with the previous night...
  • You can tell the events are starting to wind up. We’re getting more mini-documentaries and human interest stories. I particularly enjoyed Mary Carillo’s segment on “The Girl from Ipanama” (who actually exists, BTW) which ran at the end of prime time.
  • Lochtegate continues—security footage has been released of the swimmers in a drunken brawl at a Rio gas station (now the most popular media spot in the country), breaking down a bathroom door. I guess they didn’t want to wait for the key attached to a board?  There’s other footage showing the group returning to the QISE village that morning in good spirits, which doesn’t jibe with just being robbed. Not looking good...
  • On a more serious note, British sports reporter Charlie Webster, after biking 3000 miles from the UK to Rio, is now fighting a rare malaria strain in the hospital there. She’s in an induced coma as of this writing. With all the Zika talk, tropical diseases haven’t gotten a lot of attention.
  • QISE always schedules events to leave some time open at the end in case of weather issues, etc. We’re reaching that point—the Peacock showed a 60 minute documentary on gymnastic coach legends Bela and Marta Karolyi this afternoon. I suspect they will show it again Sunday night before or during the Closing Ceremonies.
  • With a lack of network coverage, I turned to the Peacock website. Overall, I was impressed with the video quality. It came up relatively quickly and was quite crisp. There are too many commercials, but that has nothing to do with the technology.  The layout was a little confusing—different screens would take you to the same content.
More to come.

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 12 by Mark

Starting with the previous night...
  • The Peacock has been burying men’s gymnastics since the US team has not done well (not supporting this, but that’s Peacock QISE procedure). So it was humorous to hear Tim Daggett be genuinely surprised when a US performance went very well.
  • Another weird QISE/movie tie-in, this time for what is a reportedly terrible Ben-Hur remake—why a remake, and why the tie-in?
  • If all the scandals in Rio haven’t been enough, now we’re hearing that an executive QISEOC member was arrested for ticket scalping.  So the bribes weren’t enough?  In any case, the stands have been half empty—how could you scalp the tickets anyway?
  • The effect of scalping could explain why the good seats at the Gymnastics Gala were almost completely empty today.  Sure, there's no judging going on, but I think this would be a premium event.
  • This must be scandal day at QISE. Ryan Lochte, who was ordered to stay in Rio during the investigation of the previously mentioned robbery, has in fact returned to the US. It’s not even confirmed that the robbery even occurred. Not sure if this will become an international incident or not.  I guess if I was robbed at gunpoint, I would skedaddle as well. My guess? Rio doesn’t like the optics of fake police robbing people, and the QISEOC want the story of ticket scalping to be buried by this one, so they are working together to create this controversy.  Get out your tinfoil hats...
More to come.

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 11 by Mark

Starting with the previous night...
  • I think it’s a bit of hyperbole when a gymnast makes a single mistake, and it’s considered to be “stunning".
  • First we get a green pool, and now gale force winds for a diving event.  Who's idea was it to have an outdoor diving venue?
  • Costas interviewed Shaun White, a Winter QISEian, because...?
  • Back at the Rio Apple Store in prime time, Costas did his nightly mega-tease, then off to the track for more races with and without hurdles. It's impressive how the Peacock can take an event that lasts seconds and turn it into an entire segment.
  • Hey, we’ve got a doping controversy!  Costa went over a litany of offenses, including a major competitor in the women’s 1500m race. The QISEOC even retroactively stripped the 2008 Chinese team of a medal. You can see a Costas interview about this—if you go to the Peacock QISE website...
More to come.

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 10 by Mark

Starting with the previous night...
  • More gems from Gymnastics color commentator Tim Daggett:
    • “There’s a required rollout move, named for” and I immediately said “Bob Rollout"
    • “I don’t know what it takes to become a king, but he’s the king of it"
  • The Peacock crew must have been out partying last night—I kept hearing extraneous audio on the Today Show.  I’m not talking some mumbling; more like “how far are we taking this interview?"
  • A number of team events today—yawn.  Thank goodness for DVRs and fast-forwarding.
  • Rio continues to see weather issues. A dock planned as the start of open-water swimming basically sank, and various track events have been delayed. I know you can’t control the weather, but picking a site where it’s currently winter (if a warm one) may not have been the best idea.
  • With a lack of blog-worthy stories today, I’ll note the following: Clayton Murphy won the bronze in the 800m race today. He’s from Paris, OH, close to my hometown of North Canton. The last US winner of the 800m was Dave Wottle from Canton in 1972. My mom was a nurse at the time, and gave Dave his shots to go to Munich.
More to come.

 

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 9 by Mark

Starting with the previous night...
  • The Peacock gets the gold in teasing!
    • 10:32p Eastern: Phelps’ final medal ceremony coming up, but first let’s take a look at random events of the day…
    • 10:34p: We’ll be back with Phelps’ medal ceremony, right after this!
    • 10:37p: A review of the swim relays
    • 10:42p: A rerun of Usain Bolt’s preliminary 100m sprint from earlier that day
    • 10:47p: We’ll be back with Phelps’ medal ceremony, right after this!
    • 10:51p: Still getting ready for that medal ceremony, so let’s go back to the track...
    • 11:01p: Another segment at the track
    • 11:08p Yet another segment at the track
    • 11:12p: We have medal ceremony!!!
    • Total tease time: 40 minutes
  • Women’s Marathon not boring enough for you? Let’s go over to golf! <zzzzzz>
  • 9 days in, and I finally saw the amorphous blob that is Rio’s mascot. I guess it’s a cat?
  • As the afternoon begins, we get synchronized swimming as a palate cleanser. All I can think of is the old SNL routine.
  • Ugh—more golf.  The color commentator sounds like Uncle Joe from Petticoat Junction.
  • Then it's the equestrian competition. I'm always expecting Thurston Howell III to show up. " Buffy, if you don't get the gold we'll never be able to show our faces at the Polo Club."
  • The Peacock reported that Ryan Lochte and three other athletes were robbed at gunpoint last night. I wonder why the spectator stands are almost empty...
More to come...