Did #NBCFail Actually Boost NBC's Olympic Viewership?


If you hang out on Twitter or Facebook at all, one thing is crystal clear when it comes to the Olympics: not matter how many gold medals the United States won, everyone and boy, do I ever mean EVERYONE absolutely hated how NBC covered the Olympics.

Whether it was the fact that NBC insisted on not broadcasting live, the West Coast delay, or the HOLY GOD awful, awful, STUPID decision to interject a sitcom into the middle of the closing ceremonies last night, I’ve never seen (or personally vented) so much vitriol against a television network.

Yet, remarkably, more people watched the NBC coverage of the Olympics then ever before. According to the LA Times, 210 million people watched the Olympics this year putting the London games in the top five television events of all time.

In fact, I wonder if the hatred of NBC actually increased viewing of the Olympics; after all, I know that I tuned in more than once to see what all the fuss was about.

Of course, it’s also true that there is something incredibly thrilling about watching these fabulous young athletes compete, even if you already know the outcome thanks to the spoilers NBC itself leaked about the outcome of races. I’d hear the results on the nightly news but still wanted to watch our team win each night.

Some said that if you want to enjoy Olympics in a different time zone, you should just stay off social media altogether. Um, okay. I guess you should also avoid the news in all forms, not speak to your coworkers sneaking in the live feed on their computers, or otherwise participate in society for the fifteen days the Olympics are happening. Right?

Look, we all know that it’s tough when there’s a five hour time difference. With social media being so prevalent today, there is no way to avoid spoilers unless you don’t go online at all (and that is highly unlikely for most of us). But there’s no doubt that NBC could do it better, particularly their choices of commercial breaks (mid event, more than once) and their incredibly stupid idea to show a sitcom in the middle of last night’s closing ceremonies. That sitcom might have been hoping for a ratings boost, but it’s pretty much the most hated show in television right now.

It doesn’t look like NBC is likely to lose their Olympic contract anytime soon. But here’s hoping that they do it better next time, and that the #NBCFail tweets will help them make it a joy next time.

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