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Olympics coverage showdown: CTV is trumping NBC in viewer satisfaction

An Ottawa-based media monitoring company combed through 50,000 tweets to gauge how Canada’s television coverage stacks up against the U.S.’s—and, in terms of viewer satisfaction, things are looking bad for the Americans. Media Miser looked at tweets with Olympic-themed hashtags made during the first three days of the London games; of those referencing Canada’s broadcaster, CTV, about half were positive, while a whopping 83% of tweets related to NBC, America’s lone holder of Olympic coverage rights, were disparaging. Use of the hashtag #nbcfail surged as disgruntled NBC watchers lambasted the lack of live event coverage, oddly timed cuts to commercials and irritating commentary, as well as some accidental spoilers and a host of other problems. This makes the uncertainty over Canada’s domestic media rights to the next few Olympics all the more alarming. Sure, CTV’s not perfect, but we really don’t relish the thought of Ryan Seacrest as our guide to the games. [Globe and Mail]

  • John robertson

    I disagree. Ctv spends too much time on interviews, and rick Hansen highlights etc. Flashbacks and switching sports

  • W. K. Lis

    When the final of the 4×200-freestyle relay was on, CTV was showing it live. NBC was showing a non-medal beach volleyball match. NBC also cut the tribute to London terror victims during the Opening Ceremony broadcast. CTV at least started the evening broadcasts at 7 PM, NBC starts at 8 PM. Not good for NBC, but good for CTV. At least the American cities on the border with Canada (IE. Buffalo) can get the Canadian broadcasts.

  • poh

    There’s a lot wrong with the way sports not named hockey are covered in this country, but we do get the Olympics right. CTV’s coverage has been amazing, including their online coverage, which in the US is not only extremely unreliable, but requires proof of a cable or satellite subscription.

    @ John robertson I believe that’s just CTV Primetime when there are no live events to aire, so that’s what they have to do to cover the time and pack all the action of earlier in the day.

  • Matt

    As an American living near the border with an antenna watching CTV is is way better than NBC. On NBC all you see is the US athletes sometimes saying to yourself who else is is this thing. On CTV you get different countries facing each other. More sports are covered albeight brief sometimes, but NBC has a very narrow scope of information. Thumbs up to CTV.

  • Glen

    It is one thing to survey tweets – however there are those of us who wrote directly to CTV and Bell telling them how awful the coverage is with way too much commentator talking during the events. The CTV Fluff pieces/interviews are annoying as well as the switching back and forth. The CTV color commentator for the men’s gymnastics spoke non-stop – at least on NBC the color commentator knows that silence is golden sometimes!

  • ljr

    CTV might be trumping NBC; that doesn’t surprise me but they are not nearly as good as CBC used to be. We are avid viewers and find that we are missing coverage because it is so difficult to catch what is being shown on each channel at any given time unless you continually switch from channel to channel. They should have scrolling info at the bottom of each channel to tell you what is being shown on the others.

    We completely missed Despatie diving this morning as well as competition featuring other Canadian athletes.

  • Bev Boys

    CTV – Diving coverage is the best ever. Blythe Hartley is positive and actually knows her stuff….and she is fun! So much better than any other we have had. Please keep her she is very very good. CBC when covering diving please get Blythe.

  • Pam Kaakee

    Nice to see I’m not the only one to think this study was drivel

  • Teresa

    I have been not been impressed by the CTV coverage of the Olympics finding it more like a talk and gossip show. CTV seems to have only short clips of events when I am able to get time to watch. I am not really impressed with NBC either. What happened to just showing the event, with limited amount of comentary on the athletes preformance?

  • Wendy

    Lots of swimming, gymnastics, judo etc but I would love to see some coverage of the equestrian events.

  • Jason Conaught

    I am enjoying the CTV coverage except for the swimming commentary by Smith. He is going over the top with his USA!! USA!!. Is he auditioning for a job at NBC? He hypes the US swim team more than NBC itself. This is downright embarrassing. Mr. Smith take a tranquilizer and tone down the USA hype.

  • Glen

    I find this story very hard to believe. I have been glued to the TV since the Olympics started and they have better coverage on NBC and TSN. Everytime the CTV moves over to the stupid Brian Williams stories about the athletes personal lives (reality TV at its best), I change the channel. Today for example…..NBC has great track and field coverage (Athletics) and the CTV is showing stupid track cycling….who cares about track cycling? Track and field and swimming are probably the most popular events by far. CTV coverage is only marginal. Can’t wait for CBC!

  • Clive

    CTV is slicing, dicing, and chopping the coverage. For example, when the men’s gymnastics were on they were showing a GBR athlete on the high bar and saying how this would make or break it for the medal. Once the routine was over they said the results were for that athlete. Then they immediately flashed over to a different country and then quickly went to another routine on the mat. They NEVER went back to show the GBR results! As for Diving, they NEVER said who they were. One minute Russia was up there, then I blink and Mexico is there. They are chopping this up! As I remember CBC was much better. Though I am sure anything beats the American networks. No wonder the Americans like Canadian coverage, there is more American content than Canadian and they sensationalize everything and TALK over everything! Phelps is American NOT Canadian! Focus on CANADA! CTV announcers are very amateur.

  • Jim

    One can find fault from any network’s coverage. There is so many events crammed into the 17 days, it is next to impossible to cover everything on a single channel.

    CTV’s mandate is to tell stories about the athletes (which is nice), highlight the events and cover some of the bigger events. The other consortium channels cover full events and CTV will promo events running on the other channels.

    CTV has a great production team which has talent from the consortium networks and a behind the scenes team which is a mixture from the above as well as former CBC Olympic producers.

    Is the coverage perfect? Perhaps not, but is anyone’s coverage perfect? No – NBC, BBC have all fallen under the twitter-verse wrath. And it will be interesting to see how CBC will be judged on social media.


    PS: I work for CTV so this might be a little bias but I am not part of the Olympic team so I can speak as a viewer.


  • Anonymous

    Please explain the correct usage of the word “literally” to the women’s triathalon broadcasters. It was very irritating hear it used inappropriately over and over and over again!

  • Kay

    I really like CTV’s coverage thus far; I flip through CTV and Sportsnet (assuming this article is refering to CTV Olympics, aka Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium which incompases CTV, Sportsnet, TSN). Whenever there’s a commercial break on one channel, I just flip to the other and watch coverage of another sport until the commercial is over. Though I haven’t found too much of a problem with the commercials in events like Swimming, Gymnastics and soccer.

    I also appreciate how CTV has livestreams of everything so if multiple events are taking place at the same time (which frequently happens), you can one event on tv while watching another on your laptop/computer! I do wish they’d have commentary on livestreams though. Even thogh some people here a complaining about how much “talking” the commentators do, I think they make it more entertaining and easier to follow since we’re not all experts in every sport at the Olympics.

    Lastly, I think it’s good that CTV has more personal segments on the athletes because it reminds viewers and aspiring athletes that the Olympics may come once every 4 years, but a lot of training, effort and sacrifice had to be overcome in order to make it. We put a lot of pressure on athletes to bring home medals and perform their best, should we not at least put some interest in their journey as well? Though I admit, I had watch MacLennan’s “Defference Maker” segment 3 times today (and once yesterday). More than a little repetitive regardless of her gold medal.

    NBC’s coverage/commentary isn’t bad for certain events (i.e. swimming, gymnastics, team events with the US playing), but it’s quite limited and a lot of it is not live. I personally prefer to see the results unfold in live time even though I can understand their reasoning for holding back the most popular American sports for prime time.

  • Emilie

    I think CTV is doing an excellent job! Terrific! I like Brian Williams.
    I switched over to NBC and thought the coverage is terrible. Commercials galore. Proud of CTV.

  • Allen

    I wish CTV would show more variety of sports at the games. They seem to be missing out on 50% of the events if Canadians are not involved.

  • Ian K

    I enjoyed watching Rosie MacLennan win Gold for herself and Canada. Watching not listening.

    CTV’s Rod Black and company are there to explain the moves throughout the routine, explain why the Chinese won Bronze (even though she slipped at the end), and confirm Ms. MacLennan won Gold. We didn’t need the “jump for joy, Canada” or the ‘continual’ references to her grandfather; nice touch that was covered adequately in the profile piece.

    During the medal ceremonies I wanted to experience the ambiance; the crowd cheering, hearing the public address announcer introduce the medalists, the words spoken to each recipient. Unfortunately all I heard was Mr. Black and company going on about how “Rosie must feel at the moment,” again referencing her departed grandfather, and wondering how she was going to feel when O Canada was played.

    The post event / ceremony interview was uninformative and unimaginative. Ms. MacLennan was asked again about her grandfather. There was also the repetitive question referencing the people in the athlete’s home town or club and how the athlete feels about the town or club’s support. They’re not going to respond with anything negative. Ask about the trials and tribulations of event. Ask about the next big event in their sport, the funding or lack of it, is a Gold medal going to elevate support for the trampoline? Did she feel that the current world champion who came in third should have been moved off the podium for macking a mistake?

    Ask questions. Be a prepared as the athletes.

  • A. Cotran

    CTV coverge is the worst I have seen on Olympics. We don’t get to watch anything except what the Americans orCanadians are involved. What about other sports. Instead of keep recycling old news, get us sports we have not seen. What about Archery? High Jump? Shooting? Etc… Really disappointing.

  • helen

    Who is the commentary for the diving competion, the lady who is doing this is terrible, she never says anything good about the canadian divers cuts them down, when do a great dive,she comments in the favour of other countries, she should not be so negative, less is more, and not to say so much critical inforamtion or she will be called simon cowell right or wrong she is putting a damper on the dives.

  • karen

    Help me understand why CTV finds it necessary to give so little attention to Canadian athletes. One would think that CTV was the American network and not NBC. Yes, the coverage is live but your televising events with non Canadian athletes. Is CTV receiving kick backs from other countries. NBC’s coverage may be taped, but at least they show how their athletes are doing, even in qualifying rounds. I’ve received updates on Equestrian, gymnastics and synchronized swimming from the newspapers! Shame on CTV for not being more patriotic. Win or lose, celebrate Canada!

  • Robert

    I totally miss CBC coverage of the Olympics, as a canadian we should be covering all canadian sporting events and spending less time covering the american atheletes…so disappointed…

  • Eric Soulliere

    CTV’s coverage is atrocious. I’m sure that CBC won’t be all that much better, but still, Brian Williams is annoying and so are ALL of the commentators. Do we have to listen to them talking nonstop? Men’s finals in gymnastics on rings and the announcer has nothing to say but won’t shut up. Non-stop talking about how strong the guy is, how big his muscles are and how flexible he is…duh, he’s a gymnast! I can’t stand these announcers. And CTV wastes hours on stupid, useless things like “difference makers” and profiles, then they get to events and they have to show 1/10th of the action since they have no time. And the cuts to commercial make no sense. Glad to be rid of this atrocity after these olympics are over!

  • Marianne

    I have enjoyed most of the coverage by CTV on the Olympics but I noticed the comments are always presented negatively for our athletes even prior to the event. I realize the commentators are trying to present a real view but their negativity is very subliminal and does NOT represent hope and positivism.
    We do not suppoprt our athletes with tons of money like other countries may do but we can always believe in them to do their best and take this positive stance at all times…. even if they do not win!

  • Duncan A

    CTV’s Olympic coverage is truly woeful.
    Unless you are following a particular Canadian Athlete, or a blue ribband event like the sprinting do not get your hopes up of seeing any action. If you do see any you can forget about following it thorough to see who wins gold silver and bronze, unless there is a Canadian Athlete involved.
    Coverage is typified by the following:-
    - Canadian Cyclist is eliminated, cuts to commercial break- coverage ceases completely with no explanation. This happens time and again. Any enthusiasts for a particular sport will be sorely disappointed.
    - Highlights programs where you should at least be able to catch up on other events consist of a maximum of 50% Olympic action, with the rest made up of repeated fillers.
    - Coverage does not match the advertised schedule.

    It is quite clear that CTV are providing a very minimal service. Having spent millions for the broadcast rights, it seems they have only done so to try and prove their sports worthiness to the hockey franchises.

    CTV shame on you.

    I can’t comment to NBC as I have not seen their coverage. If its worse than CTV, it must be deliberate.

  • lea Kel

    I love the gymnastic coverage. Kyle Shewfelt is doing a bang up job, and his quips and color comments are appropriate, but also add a real dimension to athlete. I don’t feel like he is just towing the “polite Canadian line”, but giving us both a little youth zest and insider perspective as well. I am enjoying this coverage. Way way better than the winter olympics, where the coverage was dismal. I can even stand Jennifer Hedger this time around, she seems to have matured and is rounding out the coverage nicely.

  • DonnaJones

    In my opinion, if there is a gold medal for tv advertising during the Olympics, it should be awarded to RONA. Their ads are fabulous and they should be very proud that they have captured the essence of the games. I’ve enjoyed CTV’s coverage, especially the interviews with the medalists.
    Canada’s team has given a great showing. We are proud of all of them, win, lose or draw, they perform like true champions!
    Thank you.

  • Anon

    CTV has no commentary whatsoever online that I can find, it drives me insane. I like to hear about the athletes, and I’m not exactly a sporting expert, so it helps a lot to have commentary, especially for things like diving and gymnastics, where it’s not as simple as just watching the fastest person.

    If you’re in Canada, you’re not allowed to watch the NBC coverage, so it’s not like Canadians even have to option to choose between NBC and CTV in terms of online viewing. But I know that NBC has commentary, so they’re already winning in my books.

    Though I will say, that in terms of TV coverage, I really enjoy CTV. But I think they really screwed the pooch for people watching online.

  • Takayuki

    I’m just counting the years when Bell anonencus that some kind of “brand expert” figures it’s better to re-brand CTV as a whole as something like “BellTV” (yes, and the satellite arm would change names). CTV Two has become a wasteland in any form. A shame. I remember the Barrie, Ontario station when it was THE ONLY channel of programming for cottagers in Northern Ontario. It had hockey, excellent newscasts of local cottage interests, and some pretty good local shows. Then again, it started to go downhill when CITY picked it up and the newscasts became a kind of “minor league system” for anchors and reporters deemed expendable at the Toronto station. Big show pick-up? Big suspense [sarcasm intended]. Rogers and Shaw already made their announcements. You can easily figure out that CTV has picked up “The Bachelor” and “30 Rock” (the latter which I’m sure will slot after their oft-proclaimed “#1 show in Canada” – “Big Bang Theory”). I’m more than sure the announcement will be that CSI:Las Vegas or Grey’s Anatomy (the latter which is heavily rumored to be airing it’s final season) is switching to, yech, “Two”. Big. F’in. Deal. Stick an English version of “Tout le Monde en Parle” on Thursdays at 9 and they might get a second of my interest.”Local TV Matters”? Yeah, sure….