TV Olympics coverage pleases some viewers, some of the time

By ALAN PERROTT

Television New Zealand can pick and mix the choicest events from nine streams of constant Athens coverage, but the broadcaster has found pleasing everyone is a big ask.

For each dressage fan complaining they have not seen every prance and canter, there has been a dressage-hater who would prefer the horses rode into the sunset and stayed there.

"The response has been extremely subjective and all over the place," said TVNZ corporate communications manager Avon Adams. "For some there is too much swimming and not enough dressage, for others it's the complete reverse. It's all about personal tastes, but overall people just want to see more coverage."

Most callers have demanded accurate information on when events will be shown and more highlight packages during the day, she said.

A quick Queen St straw poll yesterday found a similar range of views.

Miriana Georg, 16, from Blockhouse Bay, was frustrated by the women's basketball game against the United States. "There was too much jumping to the cycling. I think they need to settle with one sport for longer because it's difficult to follow."

Khushal Sattyam, 31, from Lynfield, lamented the absence of the world's most popular sport. "We are getting all of the swimming and rowing, but not a single game of soccer. I don't like that."

Luke Free, 32, from Devonport, was surprised he had become a shooting fan. "But apart from that whatever is on is on and whoever wins, wins. I don't really mind."

Trying to appease such diverse demands caused TVNZ's decision to skip the entire third period of the Tall Blacks' shock win over Serbia & Montenegro.

A spokeswoman said the axe came down because the match was not shown live and there had been public demand for more gymnastics.

TVNZ executive producer Stu Dennison was pleased with how his team had performed, but said that finally winning a few medals had provided a well-timed boost.

"Normally at this point people are getting scratchy and tired, so getting those lifted us as well. Everyone in the studio was clapping and cheering."

Apart from a video machine breaking down before the rowing finals on Saturday, he said the technology had been free of gremlins. Mr Dennison's major concern is sleep, after shifts from 5am to about 2pm followed by a catnap before working from 5pm to about 11pm. "When it's all over I'll sleep for a couple of days and then have a few beers."

Games coverage has dominated ratings over the past week. The largest audiences for viewers aged 5-plus were on Wednesday (23 per cent) and Saturday (26 per cent), coinciding with the rowing semis and finals.

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