Oh yeah. The commercial count during the Olympics has definitely jumped. Segments are now averaging closer to six minutes - the standard for late night programming. Now that we're into the heart of the games, this was to be expected. Michael Phelps is on track for a record setting gold medal run. Unfortunately, he only swims every now and then. While we wait, the network has time to kill, and putting the games on the air ain't cheap. We'll be right back.
When a network sends unpredictable live programming, the announcers try to give the 200 or so affiliates across the country and beyond a clear vocal cue to alert the master control operators "Here comes a local break." In the old days, this was done with the subtlety of a hydrogen bomb. "Stay tuned! We'll be right back after we pause for a word from our local stations. This is NBC." These days, they try to be less in-your-face, but the message is clear.
With the gymnastics judges taking a small eternity to put up scores last night, Bob Costas found himself anchoring well past 1:00AM Eastern. He wanted to go home. Two-hundred affiliates wanted their term break. Everybody wanted to wrap it up. And with that in mind, Costas started giving us the subtle pre-cues that we were going to the terminal break.
Only it didn't happen. But first, we have a guest in the studio. He talked. And then we switched to a produced piece about the Forbidden City. Under normal circumstances this would be a mild diversion to kill time while the Israeli archery team takes their turn. BUT NOT NOW! Shut up and and throw it to local! Finally, Costas was able to give his cue and really mean it.
Memo to NBC: The traveloge pieces are nice, but timing is everything.