NBC is really not in a position right now to be messing their product up. They’ve been losing ground in the war of the networks; their morning talker, the Today Show, recently lost a well-publicized ratings battle with ABC’s Good Morning America; and the network has been shedding viewers across the board for some time now. The peacock can’t afford to screw up now, during one of the most prominent TV events of the decade…but they are.
You’ve heard it from pretty much everyone, how NBC is screwing up the Olympics, and, for the most part, I agree with them. The most common gripe has been the network’s practice of tape-delaying events, a system that many people are very annoyed with. Obviously we aren’t going to be awake at 5:00 a.m. to watch the women’s soccer team, nor can all of us get out of work three hours early to watch Ryan Lochte pretend to be a dolphin. We can’t always be by our TVs, but with social media now a huge part of our lives, we don’t need to be. Twitter, Instagram and other social sites can give us the results in real time now; it takes away the thrill – that same Olympic thrill that’s grabbed us for decades – if we know exactly what’s going to happen before we turn the broadcast on. Pair social media with the live streaming technology we now have, and there’s no reason to tape-delay games. Yet NBC still does, saving all the highlights for primetime while avoiding them during the day…even though international Twitter accounts are reporting the results.
We saw a major problem with tape delay last night (July 30th) following Missy Franklin’s gold medal swim. A couple minutes before the event, NBC aired a promotion for the Today Show, showing Franklin reuniting with her family after her win. If you’re lost, let me spell it out for you: MANY PEOPLE LEARNED MISSY FRANKLIN WON THROUGH AN AD FOR THE DAMN TODAY SHOW. Maybe it was just poor judgment on the programmer’s part for putting that commercial where they did, but it ruined what could have been a triumphant moment for many Americans.
So how do you fix this issue? Offer your customers an alternative: in this case, it’s the ability to livestream events as they happen. This isn’t the first time NBC has done this, as I remember them doing the same thing during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. I also remember the stream working very well in 2008 and 2010 (Vancouver) as well. This year, NBC decided to change things up and make you go through your cable provider in order to access the on-demand material. If this wasn’t enough of a hurdle, once you DID hash out the password for your cable account, you were met with a choppy, buggy feed that froze every few minutes. The old livestream process (download Microsoft Silverlight and…that’s it) was much easier and the performance was significantly better. So why change it, NBC? Does this have something to do with that little merger from last year?
The voices are loud and people are pissed, but so far, NBC hasn’t strayed from the idea that they are providing you with a great product. Do you disagree? Tough sh*t. By the way, if your name is Guy Adams, watch your back what you say about NBC’s coverage before they drop the banhammer on you (as of today, Guy Adams’ Twitter account has been rightfully reactivated).
Strap in, everyone. NBC has Olympic television rights locked up through 2020, so there’s no reason not to expect more of the same in the future.