For American viewers who want to watch the epic Olympics opening ceremony from Sochi, Russia, they will have to wait and catch a replay as a live option is not available.
Depending on one's perspective, this is a negative or positive. For some, missing the event live robs them of the breathtaking spectacle the globe has already witnessed. For the others, this is probably for the best given the time-zone differential.
No matter what side of the fence a viewer falls on, this is one event they are not going to want to miss. The Russian government reportedly spent an excess of $50 billion in total on the Games, with the traditional ceremony being the headline act.
What: 2014 Olympic Opening Ceremony
When: Friday, Feb. 7 at 11 a.m. ET (8 p.m. Sochi Time)
Where: Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia
TV: NBC, 7:30 p.m. ET
To NBC's credit, the company has gone away with the pre-taped events of the past in which announcers and analysts would pretend like the globe did not already know the end result. Instead, all events will be available live online.
While a noteworthy improvement, this upgrade in coverage does not extend to the opening ceremony.
The brass at NBC do not feel that the ceremony is suitable for the online, likely solo format, according to Variety senior television editor Brian Steinberg:
NBCU executives said Tuesday at a press event. "We want to put context to it, with the full pageantry it deserves," said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group.
He said executives believed an unvarnished live stream of the colorful ceremonies would not make sense without description. What’s more, the company feels the opening-ceremony telecast is enjoyed by families who gather together, making it a natural for the boob-tube.
Perhaps another reason (time to put the tinfoil hats on) for the lack of a live option is much more simplistic—NBC spent almost $4.4 billion to secure the rights to broadcast the Sochi Games and four others through 2020 and wants a proper return on its investment.
Regardless, viewers can host an event for family and friends in the evening, as opposed to catching the event early.
What to Expect
Few details are actually known about the event so far, as Russian officials have remained tight-lipped about it in an effort to surprise and surpass the ceremonies of recent years.
Fisht Olympic Stadium will host the majority of the event, which seats 40,000 and touts a picturesque view of distant mountain ranges and a roof meant to coincide with the snowy theme.
Overall, the event figures to focus on Russia's history and the nation's top talent and celebrities, as is customary for the ceremony. As Pia Catton of The Wall Street Journal illustrates, the Russian government reportedly has some big names on tap:
The roster for the ceremony on Feb. 7 is under wraps until Friday. But insiders say Russia is likely to show off its music and ballet history as well its considerable lineup of famous composers and artists, from Tchaikovsky to Rachmaninoff and Tolstoy.
Valery Gergiev, one of the world's busiest classical music conductors, is expected to perform at the opening ceremony, according to the Russian newspaper Izvestia. Mr. Gergiev has almost no equivalent in the U.S.: More than the artistic and general head of the prestigious Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, he is a confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Lukas I. Alpert of The Wall Street Journal adds another report that states the event surrounds the history of the country itself.
Todd Lodwick is the name to watch for American viewers. As a six-time Olympian at the age of 36, the Nordic combined competitor was chosen to be the team's flagbearer during the parade of athletes—which is the highlight of every ceremony as all competitors will be together in the same venue to represent their countries with the eyes of the world watching.
Lodwick was picked over more famous names such as snowboarder Shaun White, which is what happens to an athlete with such a prestigious track record, as NBC Sports' Alex Goldberger points out:
Another hot topic that will surely catch the attention of American viewers is the patriotic apparel the United States athletes will wear, courtesy of Ralph Lauren. Peter Zeytoonjian, the managing director of marketing, spoke about what the design means to the team, via the U.S. Olympic Committee:
Ralph Lauren truly understands the honor bestowed upon Team USA athletes who will represent our nation at the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. We are thrilled with the Ralph Lauren designs Team USA will wear at the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony, a look we feel reflects the pride and embodies the emotion of this special moment for Team USA and all Americans.
Since the uniforms have been unveiled, the reactions have been polarizing, as Pardon the Interruption helps to illustrate:
All things considered, the event is well worth the wait for American viewers. The hosts have clearly gone all out to ensure this is the most memorable opening ceremony to date, and the United States has matched with impressive showings.
Be sure to catch the NBC broadcast, which features hosts such as Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Bob Costas and David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker. Those names, in combination with countless others, will make the spectacle even more entertaining.
It is one event this year that no one should miss.
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