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02/25/2010

The Big Thrill of this Winter Olympics? The Commercials

24adco_CA0-articleLarge With the exception of the occasional movie night, we don't watch much TV as a family. Ever since I instituted a daily 60-minute screen time limit, they've been choosing computer time over the television. But for these two weeks of winter Olympics, we've loosened the rules a bit to watch history in action as a family for thirty minutes before bedtime.

It's been an eye opening experience.

I'm not sure what I was expecting. It's difficult to be filled with patriotic fervor ensconced in the depths of the family couch, but I thought the kids would still experience some pride in seeing the American flags proudly waved around in a sea of crimson maple leaves. I also thought that witnessing these athletes propel themselves high into the air on skates, skis, and snowboards, sports they've just begun to learn, might also sow the seed of athletic ambition. But while we did erupt in cheers when Apolo Ohno won the gold, and while my son has started pestering me to take him skiing every day, that hasn't been the big excitement of these winter Olympics.

The thrill of these Olympics has been the commercials.

It's hard to miss the commercials on NBC this Winter Olympics. It seems as if there are more of them than actual event footage, and when you factor in the sappy background pieces on particular athletes the chance of catching an exciting live sports moment goes down even further. An article in the New York Times yesterday stated that even though NBC is showing commercials about every five minutes during its coverage, they'll still be losing over $200 million from their commitment to show the Olympics. So it is not surprising that if you ask my kids what their favorite Olympics moment has been, they're much more likely to tell you about the skiing Aflac duck, Toyota's renewed commitment to quality, or those great parents racing home to their kid with a McDonald's Happy Meal.

I'm actually not that annoyed by their fascination with these Olympics commercials. That they are such a novelty to them reveals that they're not used to seeing commercials. Thanks to our DVR and their choice of the Internet as a preferred entertainment option, they're not putty in the hands of consumer brands. So we've spent these evenings on the couch watching the Olympics having spirited discussions about truth and persuasion,about what is lying, about athlete sponsorships, brands on clothing, and about the revenue model of broadcast television.

Thanks to NBC's overly aggressive commercial frequency, there are no American flags being paraded around our house and no pretend medal ceremonies being held, but important lessons have been learned, although probably not the ones NBC intended.

This is an original Ohio Moms Blog post.

When not trying to convince her American kids to cheer for home country of France from the comfort of her couch, Vanessa blogs about cooking and parenting at Chefdruck Musings and reviews many of the products that come into their lives at Chefdruck Reviews.

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