Watching sports is a passion as old as mankind itself. The
suspense, the excitement, the drama! Watching the Olympics is
even more intense because national pride is on the line. Every day
the games are on in London, Americans rush home to watch events on
the edge of their seats, eagerly waiting play after play, move
after move, to discover who wins.
Unfortunately, greed is also as old as mankind itself, and these
Olympics proved corporate capitalism can interfere with the joy of
watching sports. In order to capture the largest television
audience, NBC's coverage of the most significant Olympic events is
delayed until the 8-11 pm time slot. Due to the five-hour time
difference between London and the east coast, the key events have
already occurred before they are being televised. This poses
challenges for the die-hard live-viewer of the Internet age.
First of all, regular news shows air before the primetime Olympic
coverage, and these news programs talk about who won in London.
It's true, NBC news announcers have tried to warn viewers when the
winners will be revealed by proclaiming "Spoiler Alert" or telling
the viewers to turn away from the screen while the names of the
winners are listed. But it doesn't get confusing.
And now more now than ever before, we are able to find out the
latest news instantaneously on the Internet and social
media. Americans eager to get the "live" feeling on prime
time must be diligent about avoiding social media and turning of
smart phone alerts. (See Alison Thompson describe her Olympics-inspired social media
Unfortunately spoiler alerts and blackouts clearly
aren't enough. Last week, NBC's desire to rake it big advertising
dollars cost viewers the live experience. During the evening
broadcast, a Today Show commercial
featuring swimmer Missy Franklin and her 'first goal medal' aired
before the actual 100 m backstroke event was shown on television.
This was definitely seen as an #nbcfail by
many Twitter users.
NBC is in a tight spot. It is extremely costly to acquire the
rights to televise the Olympics, so maximizing return through
advertising is necessary. But at minimum, NBC could carefully
review its commercial programming to ensure any containing Olympic
news is aired only after the event is over.
It makes you wonder-with expected increases in social media use and
likely decreases in advertising dollars, how will NBC-or whichever
network buys the rights-make their money back in 2016? As the speed
of communications increases, and news reaches consumers
instantaneously, will the one hour time difference between Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil and America's East Coast be enough to ensure taped