So you had to change channel during one of Andy Murray's matches? Gee, sorry to hear about that. Brits complaining about the BBC coverage of the Olympics should try watching in the USA.
Our TV subscription entitles us to watch the main NBC prime time channel. The primetime Rio show runs for four hours each evening but it's a kind of unfolding car crash of all the worst aspects of old-style TV. It is virtually unwatchable.
First there are the adverts, which happen with incredible frequency and repetition. It's virtually the same five ads all the time. We have "Real People. Not Actors" swooning over "Awesome" Chevys; America Runs on Dunkin, Gold-themed insurance ads "People ask me what it's like to win an Olympic gold medal. I tell them, if you own an insurable consumer item you already know."
Then there is Coke's "Gold Feeling' campaign which encourages viewers to text about experiences that equate to winning a gold medal. It doesn't seem to have caught fire exactly. I just checked and the top tweet was "last thing any of these athletes need is your shitty unhealthy product #That'sGold".
Procter and Gamble's schmaltzy "Thanks Mom" features Olympic athletes as children opening their school lunchboxes and smiling with delight to find loving notes pinned to their contents. Is that what Moms are supposed to do now? Yuk. Vomit. I protest. This constant focus on Olympic mothers, however, has made me think there should be a mother's race at the end of Rio. I reckon Judy Murray would have it sewn up. And I bet her boys made their own lunches.
Then there is the show itself which appears to be viewed less as a great, live sporting contest than an opportunity to make people watch adverts.
Although the Rio time zone is close to the US, they don't show events as they happen. Instead, things that people may actually want to see such as the women's gymnastics are pushed to the end of the show, so you have already heard on social media who won anyway, and you have to sit through hours of crap to see it.
They are also really static. They don't zip about as the BBC do, trying to give an overview of the event, the big moments, the triumphs and disasters. For three nights running, we were at the poolside watching swimming heats. Even when there was nothing going on in the pool, we saw swimmers jogging on the spot in tracksuits. Inordinate amounts of time was given over to a feeble tale of Lilly King wagging her finger. NBC did flash over to the tennis for two minutes once, but they didn't even mention the men's singles. We heard only that the mixed doubles had been an All-American affair.
The other night, I was really keen to see the women's gymnastics floor competition. These little women are amazing, defying gravity with their powerful bodies, throwing themselves so high into the air that you wouldn't be surprised to find them going into orbit. Maybe they are the future of the human race - climate change would be helped if we were all 30% smaller and we wouldn't need jetpacks.
The NBC prime time show kept trailing the gymnastics. I watched a TV presenter get a fencing lesson with an Olympian. Simone Biles' haul of medals was apparently pretty much overshadowed by the thrill she got from meeting her hero Zac Efron.
There was a package about "Romantic Rio". "For some the Olympics is all about gold medals, but for others gold rings are going to be their most cherished mementoes ".
Then we met the beach volleyball women's team. "At home there is a ceramic moose in need of some ornamentation." I kid you not, there was a picture of one of the team's living room with a ceramic moose head on the wall, one antler draped with a medal from a previous Olympics. Of course, I was sitting there amazed, thinking: "Gosh, this woman is an Olympic athlete but she's also a mum just like me, and I really hope she wins now because otherwise that moose is just going to look all lopsided there in her home." Not.
By the time they got to the gym, I had given up and gone to the pub and was nursing a single malt when those incredible floor routines finally aired.
Why can't I watch the BBC outside the UK? If it is to do with contracts for selling content abroad, they should change the contracts. The world is changing. NBC is getting punished by viewers for its approach. Many, like me, would be happy to subscribe to an IBC channel. Lucky viewers in the UK, know that your BBC TV service is gold.
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