NBC's decision to let many events play out live in primetime resulted in fewer prepackaged stories and a much-improved game. "The live element sometimes kept NBC from overindulging its worst impulses," says Todd VanDerWerff. "But even in cases when NBC heavily packaged a program around an event that had happened hours earlier — as with the opening ceremony — its choices were generally smarter." But VanDerWerff acknowledges that his praise for NBC may be due to the low bar set by NBC's Rio Summer Olympics coverage. "Its 2016 coverage of the Summer Games (at least in its primetime program) was such a mess that it really had nowhere to go but up," he says. "Some of it was that NBC is almost always better at covering the Winter Games, where the US tends to be less dominant than at the Summer Games, meaning NBC has to cast about for interesting stories about people from other countries, rather than running nonstop human interest stories about American athletes. And some of it was that many of the storylines at these Olympics, especially in the heavily watched sport of figure skating, were unusually compelling."