The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada have proven to be exciting and exhilarating, save the one tragic death of the Georgian luger. The Olympic Village is a 1.4-million-square-foot eco-community with buildings achieving both LEED Gold and Platinum certifications. The structures have been fitted with solar panels and green roofs, in-slab hydronic systems used for heating and cooling, and other sustainable features. All in all, it's a prototype for future sports facilities as well as communities as a whole.
On the other side of this green success story is NBC's coverage of the Olympics, which is doing its best to contribute to the earth's carbon footprint with non-stop non-coverage of sporting events. According to a published report in Wall Street Journal, out of 3 1/2 hours of Olympic coverage, the majority of time is devoted to commercials with 27% (56 minutes, 41 seconds) air time and 25.5% (53 minutes, 37 seconds) of air time devoted to action. The bronze medal of coverage goes to Bob Costas with 8.2% (17 minutes, 19 seconds) of air time. The remainder of the coverage includes medal ceremonies, replays, video segments and on-site athlete interviews. In other words, only one quarter of the entire Olympic coverage is actually Olympic action. Of course it's wonderful to see the athletes receive their medals and its interesting to hear what they have to say about the competition. However, this still barely adds up to 30% of air time, according to the report.
Commercials are essential to the financial success of network television and it's NBC's right to try to earn as much revenue as possible based on the billions of dollars they paid for the rights for the Olympic Games. Yet, based on the amount of sports actually being aired, there is a tremendous waste of energy being spent from both a broadcast and viewing point of view. In other words, would our collective carbon footprint be reduced if the Olympic coverage carried even 30 minutes less air time? Is it unthinkable to have a little less Costas in our living rooms to have cleaner air?
Although greenhouse gases are most likely not considered when calculating the amount of air time for the competition vs. the amount of commercial air time sold to turn a profit, it might make for useful conversation before the Summer Olympics.
Jonathan A. Schein is the President/CEO of ScheinMedia and publisher of MetroGreenBusiness.com.
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