South Korea’s time is ahead of the United States, but it has not made a major difference for fans’ television viewing. Pyeongchang is 14 hours ahead of the Eastern time zone, 15 hours ahead of the Central time zone, 16 hours ahead of those in Mountain time and nearly a day ahead of the Pacific time zone at 17 hours.
Jim Bell, NBC President of Production and Programming, explained to Sports Illustrated that the time difference will work out well for United States viewers.
“Contrary to popular belief, the 14-hour time difference works very well for live primetime coverage,” Bell told Sports Illustrated. “People initially think it’s all the way on the other side of the world, but the time difference is 14 hours, so that means that 8 p.m. Eastern is 10 a.m. the next day in South Korea. When many of the marquee events—figure skating, alpine, snowboarding—will be taking place.”
During the first Olympic weekend, we saw weather delays play a factor as some of the snowboarding events that were delayed ended up airing in the early morning hours when most Americans were sleeping. Every Olympics, the decision to tape-delay is a big topic of discussion. Leading up to the Olympics, NBC Sports sent out a press release claiming the 2018 Winter Olympics would be without tape delay for the “first time ever”.
“Nothing brings America together for two weeks like the Olympics, and that communal experience will now be shared across the country at the same time, both on television and streaming online,” Bell said in the NBC press release. “That means social media won’t be ahead of the action in any time zone, and as a result, none of our viewers will have to wait for anything. This is exciting news for the audience, the advertisers, and our affiliates alike.”
The only problem is NBC has already had an issue as the network opted to tape-delay the men’s snowboarding event when American Red Gerard became the youngest Olympian to win a snowboarding gold medal. Many fans accidentally learned the results thanks to the internet or mobile alerts from various apps. An NBC spokesman spoke to the Sporting News about the decision to tape delay the event.
When live events are occurring simultaneously, we obviously can only show one on NBC. We showed snowboarding on a slight delay last night after live figure skating. As we have done for every Games since London 2012, all competition is live streamed on our digital platforms for those who want to watch any sport live.
The overall philosophy is still a shift away from the 2016 Olympics in Rio when NBC opted to tape-delay many of the favorite events, often for many hours, to show during prime-time hours. This made surfing the internet and watching television challenging for fans who did not want to know the results before the broadcast. NBC’s competition like ESPN had no problems reporting spoilers in hopes that NBC’s ratings would take a dip.
Viewers will see that ice skating, snowboarding and skiing will dominate the prime-time viewing for the 2018 games. This year’s Olympics is also different thanks to the absence of long-time NBC host Bob Costas, who hosted the games since 1992. While still employed by NBC, Costas opted to start slowing down, and step away from hosting the Olympics. Mike Tirico has taken over the reins from Costas as the host for the 2018 Winter Olympics.