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Why NBC Is Never Going To Change

There has been a lot of anger in the social media world over NBC’s coverage of the Olympics ever since the games began. Some were offended by the inane, endless commentary by Matt and Meredith during the opening ceremony, others were annoyed by the addition of “sports reporters” Ryan Seacrest and Carson Daly, but the majority were upset that THE FREAKING OLYMPICS ARE TAPE DELAYED.

Yes, I realize the Olympics have been tape delayed and shown in prime time for years, but times have changed. If you’re a social media user (and the majority of people under 50 are), then it’s nearly impossible to go about your day and not have key events spoiled. I try my best to avoid spoilers, but I couldn’t un-see the following Facebook status that came across my news feed on Saturday, a good six hours before the start of NBC’s prime time coverage:

“OMG!! MICHAEL PHELPS LOSES!!!!”

Basically, to enjoy the Olympics in 2012 we have to go back to living like we did during the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, and frankly I don’t know if I can handle listening to that much Boyz II Men again.

In fairness to NBC they have made the events available for live streaming on their website. They will even email you to let you know when the event you want to see is about to start. That’s cool and all, but it’s still very frustrating not to be able to watch the events you want on your TV live and unedited, at the same time as the rest of the US and Canada.

Unfortunately, I don’t foresee things changing anytime soon (and definitely not before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia). Here’s why: despite all of the brouhaha, NBC’s prime time ratings are better than ever before. The opening ceremony was watched by 40.7 million people, up 17% from the opening ceremony in Beijing, and Saturday’s prime time coverage was watched by 28.7 million – the most ever for a first night of competition at the Summer Olympics. NBC’s entire motivation for tape delaying events is to attract the most viewers possible during prime time (when they can charge the most for their ads), and it is paying off big time.

Ideally, NBC would treat the Olympics like sports, not entertainment. No one would ever dream of tape delaying or editing the Super Bowl, and the Olympics should be granted the same respect. And while I understand some Olympic events happen in the middle of the night and need to by tape delayed, Michael Phelps’ upset on Saturday happened live in the afternoon. That was historic and we should have seen it. We also should have seen the opening round victory by beach volleyball stars Kerri Walsh and Misty-May Treanor unedited.

Here’s the thing, though. Tweeting our dissatisfaction isn’t enough. If we don’t express our dissatisfaction by not watching NBC’s prime time coverage, NBC will have no reason to change.

Hmm. Now where did I put that cassette of “End Of The Road?”


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