CALGARY, FEB. 13 -- It will be a bloodless, almost friendly war, but make no mistake -- Canadian and U.S. network television will battle side-by-side here for 16 days to see which nation has the edge in broadcasting the XV Winter Olympics.
May the better camera angles win.
The Canadian Television Network (CTV), as host broadcaster, is providing the basic feed to worldwide networks. ABC will supplement that feed, although the speed skating oval is the only venue where it is doing its own coverage, with several added cameras and microphones and other technical wonders.
Geoff Mason, ABC Sports' Olympic production vice president, said CTV and ABC "share the North American style of Olympic coverage." But beyond the similarities and cooperation, there is a network competition.
ABC, because of its overall Olympic experience and the presence here of modern TV Olympics founder Roone Arledge, is a 3 1/2-headset favorite. CTV, though, cannot be taken lightly.
The Canadians don't have as much technological hardware as ABC, but they have the home-field advantage. CTV will have 114 hours of Olympics coverage to ABC's 94 1/2. ABC will have the latest gadgetry, most notably its point-of-view unit -- miniature cameras, many of which are attached to athletes during practice to give a remarkable new viewpoint.
"We don't have the kind of money to go after point-of-view technology," said Ed Mercel, CTV's Olympics executive producer.
"We're just not going to compete with ABC on that level. We can't. What we can do is provide solid, credible coverage that is tailored for Canadians."
"Many of our camera locations are different but I think we share the same philosophy," Mason said.
During opening ceremonies today, ABC took an early lead on CTV (although, as can be expected, it talked a little too much). ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, a Canada native, provided a big lift as he joined Jim McKay. ABC also demonstrated its unmatched graphics to give basic information about nations, information not found on CTV.
But overall, the similarities between the two networks far outweighed the differences, making it clear again why Canadians and Americans share the largest undefended border in the world.