Before the Rio Olympics began, an NBC executive insisted that the Olympics’ primarily female audience is “less interested in the result and more interested in the journey.” While that is grossly patronizing and sexist, it has not seemed to manifest too much during NBC’s prime-time network coverage of the summer games. Those three hours have mostly been filled with competition—with some bios and background, sure, but mostly competition.
In fact, it’s been so competition-heavy that I’ve been genuinely, achingly missing one of the best parts of the Olympics: Mary Carillo’s feature stories.
Mary hasn’t been absent from the Olympics: Last week, she was calling tennis matches; this week, she’s doing play-by-play for open water swimming.
But where are her delightful feature stories? Where is her wonderful wit and wry sensibility? Where are her fun dives into local culture and people’s lives? Searching NBCOlympics.com for “Mary Carillo” returns only four videos:
- Leslie Jones versus Mary Carillo in table tennis, with bonus mocking of Ryan Seacrest, from yesterday, which is exactly the kind of piece I’ve been missing.
- “Mary Carillo spends the day at Rio’s most popular beaches,” from Aug. 3
- a short Aug. 4 intro to the Rio games that includes Mary Carillo but is not one of her pieces
- and “Mary Carillo talks tennis,” from Aug. 9
The last one is in studio and just a discussion, not a spectacular monologue like the one below from the 2004 Olympics about badminton.
So where are her other stories? I haven’t been watching every channel 24/7, and especially not during the day. But there’s nothing else online. Nor is there anything on YouTube.
I talked to an NBC Sports representative in Rio, who told me that Mary’s feature stories include both ones produced in advance and during the Rio games, but their broadcast in prime-time is being affected by live coverage. Because Rio is an hour ahead of the east coast, some competitions are being aired live during prime-time. (That may explain what’s felt to me like choppy coverage—we go from one pre-recorded sport to a live competition and back again.)
The representative told me that NBC produced the same number of feature stories as in London, perhaps more, and said those were airing primarily on NBC and NBCSN, and all were on NBCOlympics.com. As I told the representative, I couldn’t find Mary’s stories on the site. He promised to send a link and descriptions of upcoming stories. I haven’t received that, and I haven’t been able to find anything other than what’s above.
NBC’s press web site has her bio but no photo, though there are plenty of photos of the Today Show cast and Tongan flag bearer Pita Taufatofua.
Before the games, an NBC press release said “Carillo has spent nearly three weeks traversing Brazil to film her travelogues ahead of her 13th Olympic assignment and 10th with NBC.”
Where are those? Why aren’t there any pictures of her on their press web site? Why can’t I find her feature stories online if they’ve aired during the day and I’ve missed them? Why isn’t there a Mary Carillo page on the site? Why doesn’t she get to host late night instead of Seacrest?
And why doesn’t NBC doesn’t treat the person who produced the television below—and so many other great stories—as one of its greatest assets?