I haven’t watched the Olympics or heard the slightest buzz about them this year. And I’m certainly not alone, as American Idol and even Grey’s Anatomy beat the games. The Times talks about NBC’s weakness and others’ counterprogramming but I think it’s a bigger story than that, about:
* The end of the Big Event — we’re no longer captive to the coverage or the hype because we exercise ever-increasing choice. This doesn’t mean there will be no Big Events (see: SuperBowls) but there will be fewer.
* The ubiquity of instant information — media no longer controls the timing of the story and the basic news is a commodity available anywhere immediately.
* The primacy of the niche — the Olympics are, in a sense, the ultimate niche event as some watch curling and some watch ice-dancing and nobody wants to be forced to watch it all and that is the natural state of media.
* The disillusionment with Olympic hype — we don’t buy the narrative of nobility as scandals and greed — reality, in other words — take over.
The value of the Big Event will continue to decline as the value of big declines.
: LATER: Quickly, good comments are coming in on fatigue with both NBC and the Olympics.