#NBCfail: NBC's Olympics coverage gets social media backlash

Posted By KATE STANTON, UPI.com  |  July 30, 2012 at 10:41 AM
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NBC has decided to air most of the Olympics' major events in prime-time to maximize viewership in the evening hours when most people are home--which means more revenue from advertisers--but many argue that the strategy is diminishing the Olympics-watching experience of American viewers.

NBC's coverage first came under fire after the Opening Ceremonies, when word broke that the network had scrapped Danny Boyle's apparent tribute to victims of the 7/7 London bombings, choosing instead to air a pre-taped Ryan Seacrest interview with Michael Phelps.

When critics called the move insensitive, a network representative responded that the program was "tailored for the U.S. television audience."

Some viewers also complained that NBC hosts Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Bob Costas spoke too often and made ignorant comments during the ceremony.

"Instead of chuckling that you don’t understand how the stadium’s light show works, get someone to teach you so you can explain it to people at home," Slate's Josh Levin wrote of the hosts.

Frustration with NBC came to a head, however, when American audiences couldn't watch the showdown between USA swim phenoms Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps live. They took to Twitter to voice their discontent, using the hashtag, #nbcfail.

The barrage of complaints prompted Jim Bell, NBC's executive producer of the Olympics, to respond directly on his Twitter feed.

After Time magazine critic, James Poniewozik, tweeted that "NBC tape delay coverage is like the airlines: its interest is in giving you the least satisfactory service you will still come back for," Bell hit back saying, "You do know that all sports events are being streamed live right?"

NBC found one critique convincing enough to change part of its broadcast. After one viewer commented that NBC's "Nightly News" coverage gave away event results before the network had aired them, Bell replied "I think that is a fair request and will look into it."

On Sunday night's "Nightly News," Brian Williams warned viewers to "close your eyes or look away for a moment" while he recapped the day's events.

A mock-Twitter account, @NBCDelayed, popped up over the weekend tweeting Olympics and other news updates from years past as "Breaking News," making hating on NBC a sporting event of its own.

Buzzmachine's Jeff Jarvis argued that NBC could both live stream events and replay them later without losing viewership, charging NBC with "preserving old business models in a new reality."

"I ask you to imagine what Olympics coverage would look like if Google had acquired the rights. It would give us what we want and make billions," Jarvis wrote for The Huffington Post.

It looks unlikely so far that NBC will change its current plan to tape delay major Olympic events. The network's pre-packaged coverage of the Olympics Opening Ceremony drew a record 40.7 million viewers.

Plus, some people are fans. Bell tweeted a Business Insider story called "Shut Your Pie-Holes, People: NBC's Olympics Coverage is Perfect."

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