Airwaves: Expect innovative Olympics coverage

When the Summer Olympics get under way next weekend, expect the best coverage and visuals, maybe ever, of a televised sporting event. To say NBC Universal is covering these Olympics is a vast understatement. The word should be smothering (that is a good thing).

To begin, they will be using some “cool” new cameras to make the viewing experience lifelike and almost surreal. David Neal, NBC’s executive vice president in charge of Olympics coverage, promises these new innovations will take the viewer “on a magic carpet ride from your sofa to the playing field.” Among the gadgets that will be used is a Dive-Cam that will be alongside divers as they leave the board and hit the water.

The Moby-Cam is a submarine  camera that will be below swimmers in the pool during competition. You will be able to see every stroke and turn a swimmer makes. Last, but not least, is the Fly-Cam, which will be used to follow rowers in the water and be suspended above them. These, along with the usual point-of-view cameras and tiny HD “lipstick cameras,” will tell the story in pictures. I can’t wait to see all of this. Look for less verbiage this year from commentators. Pictures will tell you what you need to know. No wonder it takes four years to get ready for these games.

In addition to the upcoming games from the land of smog, the NFL preseason starts tonight. NBC will televise the boring contest between the Redskins and the Colts. In totality, there will be 13 nationally televised NFL preseason games this year, including tonight’s game. ESPN has four, FOX has three and CBS, NBC and the NFL Network will each televise two games. Obviously most of the preseason games are locally televised. This is done because it produces individual revenue for the owners. I still think there are too many preseason games. Two is enough.

ArenaBowl pumps up the volume

ESPN (on ABC) did a solid job of bringing us the ArenaBowl last weekend. One thing about the Arena League is that it can be exciting. You’ve got to love the audio and the sounds of this indoor game that are picked up for the viewer. I love the coach-QB conversations. Too bad for the Sabercats, they almost won the game at the very end … symbolism?

Early in the game, the cameras found newly retired AFL commissioner David Baker sitting in his seat observing the game, however, while the camera was on him, he let out a huge yawn and looked like he was falling asleep. Yes, this was in the first quarter. Good camera work, bad timing for the oversized commish.

Ex-San Jose Mercury News columnist Skip Bayless is making a big name for himself on ESPN’s “1st and 10.” The quick-witted, intelligent and opinionated Bayless is great on TV and is so much better than 90 percent of the talking heads out there who do not have a clue. I love his passion.

Speaking of ESPN, they have made a subtle adjustment in their NFL coverage on ESPN.com. This year, instead of having reporters “cover the NFL,” they have hired former team beat writers to cover each division exclusively. For example, Bill Williamson last year wrote for the Denver Post and covered the Broncos. Now for ESPN.com he will just cover the AFC West. The coverage so far has been good with specific information and insights, which were not always there in the past.

KNBR’s Fitz and Brooks show Wednesday from 49ers training camp was right on. The likeable pair did interviews, offered opinions and hosted a most-informative show for all the Niner diehards out there. KNBR will continue its in-depth coverage this season of John York’s team. The “sports leader” has done an excellent production job since taking over the 49ers broadcast rights.

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