With much hype surrounding the Olympia’s expected foray back into the mainstream on Comcast’s NBC Network, many were left disappointed with this weekend’s execution. Like a child who waited all week for their morning cartoons, only to find they had been replaced by an infomercial for the latest in tomato dicing technology. The dozens (okay maybe hundreds) of bodybuilding fans across America were left wondering… WTF happened?
For Starters, NBC ≠ NBCSN
When initially announced, many anticipated bodybuilding finally transcending from relative obscurity back into the highest levels of exposure possible in sport, airing on NBC. The same network that brings us events such as the Olympics and Sunday Night NFL Football. What many didn’t realize was the small caveat in these statements of “Bodybuilding on NBC” were actually in reference to their smaller Sports Network, an offshoot of NBC. Unlike NBC which airs in millions of homes across America, NBCSN has a much smaller audience, and is intended to compete with ESPN but has yet to catch momentum as anticipated. So yes, technically bodybuilding is on NBC, but nowhere near the level of exposure many had expected.
Lots of Hype, Little Detail
From the launch announcement, details were sordid at best. Even in these early stages there were many things left unaddressed / unanswered or open to interpretation (such as where and when the contest would air.) Fans of the sport were so eager and longing for more bodybuilding content since the release of the film Generation Iron, that they didn’t even question or push the obvious issues. As a result, in the months leading up to the Olympia, the broadcast was becoming highly anticipated, but there was also a developing mass confusion. For example, while the Olympia was taking place and being webcast live on Bodybuilding.com, a number of posts could be found on social media by fans complaining they couldn’t find the contest being aired on NBC.
The Events of This Weekend
The hype and confusion came to a head this weekend, when many in the industry (including Phil Heath’s facebook page) shared an infographic with the wrong information on it about when the contest would air. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if it weren’t for so many industry insiders spreading this post so close to the expected airdate, indicating that they too were clearly in anticipation of the event.
Unfortunately, when the few viewers who had access to NBCSN were able to finally find the station, they were presented with NFL highlights rather than the Olympia as anticipated. Yes, instead of having anything oriented towards bodybuilding, the station was airing replays, followed by the Mecum Auto Auction. Just another friendly reminder of where bodybuilding stands on the athletic totempole in general society’s perceptions.
Going Into Next Week: Based on the events of this weekend, what was thought maybe a progressive marketing tactic, instead ended up a blatant failure of execution and gaffe on the part of promoters, but not all is gloom and doom. The program still appears to be scheduled to air next weekend on the 25th, but it doesn’t look like what was intended to be the 1st half (scheduled to air today) has any upcoming timeslots. Now that we have seen the changes capable of happening unannounced in such a short time period, it’s unfortunately not outside the realm of possibly this too could change.