While the Games might have begun with a few letdowns--the hoops fiasco, Michael Phelps's losses, the acres of empty seats--one pleasant surprise has been NBC's exhaustive coverage. In contrast to previous years, the network has scaled back the mawkish profiles in favor of actual competition. The reheated telecasts are an annoyance (if an inevitable one), but by spreading out events on partner cable networks CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo, Telemundo and USA, NBC is providing satisfying fare.
Viewer reaction has been positive. For the first three nights of the Games, NBC says, the total number of viewers across all networks was up 11% from Sydney. And Sunday's prime-time NBC menu of women's gymnastics and swimming drew an overnight average 15.4 rating/26 share, a 5% jump.
-- L. Jon Wertheim