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Terri Mauro

NBC: 5,000+ Hours for Olympics, 0 Hours for Paralympics

By July 12, 2012

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TVUPDATE: Hey, NBC found a whole 90 minutes for the Paralympics! In the middle of the afternoon! A week after it's over! Woo hoo!

I've been researching a lot about the 2012 Summer Paralympics lately, and though I've been able to put together a gallery of the sports and a fun list of ways to support the U.S. Paralympics team, I've had a hard time finding out exactly where fans in the U.S. could watch this thing on TV. Will NBC be leaving some of the infrastructure from its 5,535 hours of broadcast, cable, and online Olympic coverage to capture the competition, drama, and inspiration of the 2012 London Paralympics as well?

According to a Denver Post blog post I saw today ... no. Nope. Nothin'. NBC has no contract with the Paralympics, so don't expect to see Bob Costas interviewing competitors in Goalball or Wheelchair Basketball or Sitting Volleyball. These sports look so intriguing to me, and the athletes' stories seem so highly of human interest, that it's hard to believe no broadcaster wants a piece of this. But it appears that U.S. viewers flipping through channels looking for Paralympic action will flip in vain.

Fortunately, though, we live in a time where TV is no longer the only way to watch, and the International Paralympic Committee will be leaping to our aid with online offerings that include, according to a news item on its site, "Live coverage of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, 48 hours of live sport each day available via four channels with English commentary ... [and] over 1,000 hours of video on demand uploaded 24 hours a day from 30 August to 9 September." Which means that anybody who really wants to watch the Paralympics can do so -- but that people who might discover it through TV commercials and channel surfing will likely remain unaware these games ever happened.

You can help spread the word by following the IPC's Facebook page and Twitter feed and sharing with friends. There are also videos to start watching right now on the ParalympicsSportTV YouTube page to get everyone in the mood. And if you want to let NBC know how much it stinks that they're leaving town without giving Paralympics athletes their due? There's a petition for that.

Photo by Terri Mauro

July 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm
(1) Tom says:

It’s my understanding that NBC owns the broadcast rights to BOTH the Paralympic and Olympic Games through the USOC. Correct me if that has changed.

Disabled persons and their supporters wanting to see the Games telecast int he USA – not done since 1996 – have gone so far as to challenge NBC’s claims that they can’t make money with the Paralympics and so won’t telecast them, by enlisting major sponsors stating they are willing to sponsor such a telecast. NBC declined these offers however because in truth, if Coke and VISA are sponsoring the Olympics and don’t also want to shell out more money for the Paralympics they also don’t want a competitor like Pepsi of Master Card to rain on their parade two weeks after the Olympics with the Paralympic Games. In short – it’s a corporate shell Game and we all loose. The USA remains one of the only countries NOT televising the Paralympics. Translation and byproduct – disabled athletes are better known, better funded and nationally recognized more in other nations in the USA. Money wins again.

July 16, 2012 at 11:24 am
(2) specialchildren says:

Tom, my understanding is that rights to broadcast the Olympics are negotiated with the International Olympic Committee, with some of that money going to the USOC, of which the Paralympic team is a part. (See http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/news/story?id=6634886.) I would think that rights to broadcast the Paralympics would have to be negotiated with the the International Paralympic Committee, and I can’t find any word of that happening this time around. The Denver Post article linked to above says “Without a contract with NBC, the Paralympics won’t be broadcast in the U.S. this summer,” and that’s about all I’ve been able to find on the subject.

Regardless of whether NBC didn’t buy the rights or has them but won’t use them, it stinks.

August 3, 2012 at 1:47 pm
(3) specialchildren says:

At least we may be able to see Oscar Pistorius run on NBC, since he’s getting a shot at the Olympics as well as the Paralympics. Go to NBC’s page on him at http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=oscar-pistorius-799/index.html for links to his races and times to watch.

August 8, 2012 at 11:55 am
(4) Chuck Wagner says:

If NBC, does, in fact own the rights to the Paralympic Games, as they do the Olympics, and does not air the games, then they should be sued for discrimination against the disabled, in a nutshell.

I personally think a class action suit should be initiated against the network

August 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm
(5) Sara Willig says:

While a cool idea, a class action suit needs a member of those directly involved (or their guardians) to bring it. I had to find this out very recently.

August 14, 2012 at 8:24 am
(6) Jane Hunt says:

I read an article (which I can’t find now) which indicated that the Paralympics were done separately because it stated how happy they were that so many countries were showing them including China, Japan, Australia and most of Europe. The US wasn’t mentioned. During the Olympics NBC spent hours telling us that women (who are apparently discriminated again) were well represented and then they do not show the Paralympics which to me in many ways are more important than the Olympics.

You will be pleased to know the Britain is not treating these Olympics lightly (they were the first country to introduce them in 1948) and special provisions are being made for both the competitors and their guests, so it should be a good spectacle. There will be both an opening and closing ceremony. Groups like Coldplay will be playing at the closing ceremony because of what they consider the importance of the Paralympics. Hopefully NBC will see what they have missed out on and show them in the future.

August 18, 2012 at 8:59 am
(7) sandraodonnell says:

My grandson was born with Cerebral Palsy. He is 18 years old and would love to watch the Paralympics. SHAME ON NBC. Im sure there is another network that could take this on. This is a real heartbreaker for all the family and friends who cannot attend, but would love to watch it on TV. Why is this any different than the Olympic Games? Im sure Bob Costas would be honored to be a part of this great event. Sandie Odonnell Parma, Ohio

August 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm
(8) Jon B says:

Baffling – are NBC ashamed of Paralympians? In the UK we are getting 150 hours live on Channel 4, albeit a minority channel. The Paralympics tickets are virtually all sold – can’t see that hapenning in the US if NBC is any guide.

August 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm
(9) Tim says:

It’s a real shame you guys in the US won’t be able to watch it. Virtually all events are sold out and it’s massively anticipated here in the UK with a major network channel 4 dedicating most of it’s air time to covering events both live and highlights.
You might be able to watch the hightlights through their on demand service.
Take a look at the commercial. Inspiring stuff!

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