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DIANE PUCIN / ON SPORTS MEDIA

Winter Olympics coverage will be delayed on West Coast

NBC says viewers like events in prime time, even if they're not live.

January 15, 2010|By Diane Pucin

NBC released its Winter Olympics schedule Thursday and there's an innocuous little line under each night of prime-time coverage -- 7:30 ET/PT.

That line makes a lot of us PT viewers/Olympic addicts want to throw stuff or figure out how to take a three-week road trip to ET or hang out at the border and pull in the Canadian feed to see sports the way they're meant to be seen:

Live.

It was reported earlier this week that NBC expects to lose $200 million with its Olympics coverage. An initial reaction: That's too bad. We who love the Olympics want them to be a big television event. But maybe you deserve to lose money if you feel as if live coverage isn't good for the western outposts.

Take, for example, Friday, Feb. 18. It is the first night of the ice dancing. Americans Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto are defending Olympic silver medalists. They're a television draw. The event will be televised from 8-11 p.m (live ET/CT).

The rest of us? For us the Olympics are treated as a "reality" show, same as "Dancing With the Stars" or "American Idol." We'll watch it three hours later than everyone else and like it.

And NBC says we like it.

Said Chris McCloskey, vice president of communications: "The West Coast has a love affair with the Olympics and consistently measures higher ratings than other regions of the United States. Our extensive research has clearly shown that West Coast viewers, more than any other region, wants to see the Olympics when they're available to watch, and that is when they are home, which in almost all cases means prime time."

We outliers aren't even getting all-live coverage of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. The women's free skate, Jan. 23, will be live from 9-11 p.m. ET and not-so-live from 9-11 p.m. PT on Channel 4. And this is from Spokane, Wash., which is, yes, PT. On the bright side, that gives us a chance to practice trying to hide from results.

Tennis live, actually

ESPN2 begins its coverage of the Australian Open on Sunday.

If you ever want to experience jet lag and not even get on a plane, just watch the Australian Open. True tennis fans would be advised to ask for emergency vacation so you can stay up all night, because it seems that's when the best stuff happens Down Under.

The Tennis Channel will also offer coverage from 4-7 p.m. during early rounds.

Craig Sager talks

TNT will have a healthy dose of Los Angeles pro basketball coming up. Monday will be a Martin Luther King Jr. Day tripleheader that will finish with Orlando at the Lakers at 7:30 p.m. The A-team of Marv Albert and Doug Collins will have the call with Craig Sager reporting.

And Thursday, the TNT doubleheader will feature the Lakers at Cleveland at 5 p.m. and the Clippers at Denver at 7:30 p.m.

Sager has some opinions on the local pro franchises.

About the Clippers: "Chris Kaman has been playing like an All-Star; Marcus Camby has been great; Baron Davis is really getting into it. Then Blake [Griffin] gets hurt. Now what happens? Do they try and hang in there until the All-Star break and trade deadline? If they're not hanging in, do they just start finding salary cap space and wait until next year? I don't believe in curses but they have a lot of bad luck."

And as for the Lakers, Sager notes, "Kobe Bryant has a lot of wear and tear on that body. I believe in his career he has played 41,910 minutes and only Shaquille O'Neal, Jason Kidd and Kevin Garnett have played more. But you can't make him sit. He wants to play."

Sager also has an opinion on new USC football Coach Lane Kiffin. Back in the day, TBS did Pac-10 games and Sager got to know Kiffin as a Trojans assistant coach. "The guy has an unbelievable work ethic," Sager said. "My son, who played football at Georgia, told me this year Kiffin had already turned the Tennessee program around and now Tennessee is in shambles. The alumni are splintered; they're trying to fire the athletic director. What a story."

L.A. Marathon, also live

While the papers haven't all been signed, sources who aren't authorized to speak publicly yet say the 2010 Los Angeles Marathon on March 21 will be televised by Channel 5.

Good today

Can the Clippers make it two in a row over the Lakers? FS West and Prime Ticket have the game at 7:30 p.m.

Good Saturday

Maybe Norm Chow and Kiffin can liven up the basketball game between USC and UCLA at Pauley Pavilion at 4:30 on Prime because the two basketball teams are just mucking about in the mediocre middle of the Pac-10.

But this is also an NFL playoff day. Channel 11 gives us Arizona at New Orleans at 1:30 (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa) and Channel 2 has the Ravens at the Colts at 5:15 (Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf).

Good Sunday

The USC and UCLA women have their crosstown rivalry game on Prime Ticket at 2:30. But they're up against NFL playoff games so, DVR anyone? Channel 11 has the Cowboys at the Vikings (Joe Buck and Troy Aikman) at 10 a.m. and Channel 2 has the Jets at the Chargers (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms) at 1:30 p.m.

diane.pucin@latimes.com

mepucin/twitter.com

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