NBC’s 2012 London Olympic Game Coverage; the Birth of the Twitter #NBCFail

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The massive NBCFail heard around the world has now turned into the massive #NBCFail on Twitter. If we were to be keeping track of NBC’s colossal Olympic coverage failures, it would look like this: 1) NBC assumed that Americans don’t relate to mourning London’s 7/7 terrorist attack victims and chose to not air the victim tribute section of the opening ceremonies, 2) NBC is airing Olympic games results before they actually air the games, 3) NBC has ensured that anyone with a US-based IP address cannot access live Olympic event coverage through other online venues, such as the BBC. But who’s keeping track?

While we chalk-off their blocking US-based IP addresses from accessing the Olympic games coverage online, we are having a hard time wrapping our heads around the fact that they chose to not air London’s tribute to the victims of the 7/7 terrorist attack that took place in London on July 7th, 2005, killing 52 people and wounding 700. Incidentally, the attack occurred precisely 24 hours after London was selected to host the 2012 Olympics. NBC claims that they chose not to air this portion of the opening ceremonies because it wasn’t, “tailored to American audiences.” This prompted many to respond that NBC has critically underestimated the American people, especially since the 7/7 attack occurred a mere 4 years after America’s 9/11 attacks. Americans have resoundingly asserted that they wanted to pay tribute to the victims of London’s 7/7 attacks along with UK citizens.


To NBC’s credit, they make a point of saying that the point of delaying big events until they can be aired on prime-time is because that is when most people are available to watch them and because that is the timeframe in which NBC makes the most advertising revenue. Critics, such as Buzzmachine.com media critic Jeff Jarvis, are quick to point out that they could televise the big events live, but then play it again later that night for those who missed it. But as Jarvis points out, NBC could also potentially lose out on millions of dollars in revenue if they cut into primetime viewing.

Which then begs the question: why did NBC stick both of their greedy little hands in the Olympic cookie jar if they could not successfully maneuver complete, accurate and up-to-the-minute coverage? It is obvious that they embarked on this Olympics-viewing monopoly with dollar signs in their eyes, viewers be damned. But the problem is that, unlike 20 years ago, or even four years ago with the last Olympics, viewers have much louder voices via Twitter, Facebook and other social media websites. Heck, entire revolutions have been spawned on Twitter, so outrage over NBC’s handling, or rather colossal flubbing, of the Olympics coverage seems the obvious outlet for voicing such anger. And with that anger, the hashtag “NBCFail” was born. #NBCFail is a hugely trending topic right now, with comments ranging from outrage, sarcasm and lamenting:

“NBC pays billions of dollars to give us coverage about the Olympics instead of actually showing, you know, the Olympics. #nbcfail”

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“Dear @NBCOlympics. Please air Closing Ceremonies live, allow streaming, & pipe in the BBC commentary. Sincerely, America.#NBCFail”

“Proud of London and the world. Deeply embarrassed about NBC. #NBCFail”

Further, British journalist Guy Adams found his Twitter account suspended after tweeting the email address of NBC head, Jim Bell, so that disgruntled Olympics viewers could email their grievances straight to the top. Within 24 hours of the tweet in question, Adams logged on to Twitter, only to find that it was locked and there was little explanation other than that he violated Twitter’s policy of not tweeting personal information about others.

 

For his part, Jim Bell has taken to Twitter to engage in dialogue with an angry Twittosphere, both defending accusations and trying to calm the angry masses. One woman tweeted to Bell her frustration with the NBC for airing Olympic games results before airing the actual events. Bell tweeted back, assuring her that NBC would now make a “spoiler alert” announcement so people could avert their eyes if they wanted to wait to watch the games and find out the results themselves.

What NBC is quickly learning (and in theory, what ABC and CBS can also learn from this), is that telecommunications is vastly changing. In the past it was easy for these networks to completely overtake televised events, such as the Olympics, and viewers had to take it as they could get it. And the networks knew it. But now, viewers have a lot more recourse with social media and the internet, which changes the game. Even NBC’s attempts to stop viewers from accessing live coverage online through IP recognition has been thwarted by the use of programs that can block the origin of the IP address. It seems that NBC simply spent a bundle of cash for exclusive broadcasting rights to the games, without taking viewer preference into account. And it looks like the ensuing PR disaster is the second way that they will be paying through the nose for exclusive rights to air the 2012 Olympic games.

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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