Far be it from anyone to bear ill will toward the network that gave the world the sublime Tara Lipinski--Johnny Weir pairing, but the fact remains that NBC's Sochi coverage forced viewers seeking comprehensive coverage to put forth an Olympian effort of their own. Viewers looking for the men's hockey bronze medal game between the USA and Finland on NBC last Saturday morning instead found something called Tree Fu Tom. (The game was on NBC Sports Network.) But at least it was on. Unlike the Summer Games, where not-ready-for-prime-time sports are readily found on cable channels, NBC's secondary outlets rarely deviated from their normal daytime schedules. Want to see the men's curling final? No dice, as CNBC, MSNBC and USA were all showing their standard Friday-morning fare, which in the case of the latter included an episode of Cheers. (Norm!) And the net's evening broadcasts made only passing mention of many top stories, such as the U.S.-Canada women's hockey final.
No, the only reliable way to see everything was to stream it on NBC's website or through its (excellent) app. The drawback—aside from untimely ads, such as the one that sprung up on Mikaela Shiffrin's final slalom run—is that viewers had to log in through their cable companies for full coverage, which made clear the need for a system that allows fans to watch the Games √† la carte. Sochi gave the world some spectacular stories; it's too bad so many were so hard to watch unfurl in real time.