Is NBC botching its coverage of the London Olympics?
NBC's coverage of the London Olympics is infuriating tech-savvy sports fans, who have branded the network's coverage of the games with the embarrassing Twitter hashtag: #NBCFail. Because London is several hours ahead of the United States, most big events happen during America's morning or early afternoon. And while NBC is showing these events live via (sometimes glitchy) online streams, the network isn't broadcasting them on TV until primetime — when many fans already know the results. Among the other gripes: NBC's questionable decision to edit out an opening ceremony tribute to victims of a London terrorist attack, and Brian Williams' on-air spoiling of a swimming event's results before the tape-delayed broadcast. Is NBC blowing the $1.18 billion it invested to air the games stateside?
NBC is dropping the ball, big time: On Saturday, NBC delayed its broadcast of a super-hyped swim-off between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, but still managed to ruin the surprising result for viewers, says Dave Stubbs at Leader-Post. And even without such on-air slip-ups, viewers "must try to keep themselves in the dark for hours to avoid knowing who's won the events they might like to watch" when NBC finally shows them during "lucrative primetime viewing." One journalism professor asked on Twitter if "a monkey [was] running that network." That would be a perfectly reasonable question... "if it weren't an insult to simians everywhere."
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NBC should bite the bullet and televise everything live: The network isn't doing itself any favors, says Richard Sandomir at The New York Times. It's easy to see why they'd want to air big events during primetime, when most viewers are home and NBC can charge a premium for advertising. But why not also broadcast big events when they actually happen? Major sporting events are always televised live. People want to watch important match-ups on television in real time, not online where footage is prone to "freeze, skip, pixelate, or buffer excessively."
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Actually, NBC knows exactly what it's doing: The Olympic audience isn't "typically young and tech savvy," says Steve Lepore at SB Nation. They're "a little older, and averse to social media." They don't all know the results in advance. In fact, NBC is having the best start to an Olympics on record: On Friday and Saturday, the network averaged 35.6 million viewers, beating out Atlanta (33.3 million) and Beijing (29.5 million). Even as NBC "gets 40 lashes from every human being with a non-spam Twitter account," the network is proving that even when fans do know the results in advance, they'll tune in "not just to see Michael Phelps win or lose, but how he won or lost."
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