Move over, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt – you’ve got company on the medals podium. Welcome the newest Olympic gold medalist, and it’s none other than surprise upstart Ryan Seacrest, whose coverage of the games for NBC earned him a first place finish in the lesser-known media category of “Shark Jumping.”
Seacrest is perhaps best-known to audiences in the US as the affable host of mindless shows such as American Idol and Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. The charming metrosexual shattered all previous records of shark jumping during these games by frequently engaging in smarmy back-and-forth banter with an obviously embarrassed Bob Costas, and also delivering many shallow, feel-good “Olympians-in-their-everyday-lives” interviews. But undoubtedly it was his incredibly tedious social media features, broadcast in prime-time nightly on NBC, that all but guaranteed the victory of the only medal to be awarded after the Games’ conclusion.
The reports successfully monopolized valuable air time that could have been used to broadcast actual sports by informing the audience of amazingly trivial facts, such as what athletes were trending the most on Facebook and Twitter, as well as replaying and breaking down the US swim team’s “Call Me Maybe” YouTube video that had gone viral on the world wide web nearly three days before and had already been seen by millions.
With his victory, Seacrest unseated the reigning shark jump champion and his NBC teammate, Mary Carillo, whose relaxed, “slice-of-life” pieces on athletes in both Athens and Beijing had previously established her as the network’s premier yawn-inducer. Also vying for a spot on the medals stand was sideline reporter Andrea Kremer, who had a very strong showing with her myriad inane questions for the US swimmers following their races, but because it was technically during coverage of an actual sporting event, she was disqualified.