The best of both worlds
I think NBC is in a tough spot.
But I also think they are missing a golden opportunity – pun intended.
Broadcasting the Olympics is a thankless task. While American audiences demand for drama has never been higher, so have the rights fees gathered by the International Olympic Committee.
NBC paid a whopping $1.18 billion for the rights to televise the 2012 Summer Olympics across all of their platforms. Unfortunately, because London is six hours ahead of Milwaukee, England's prime time is our lunch time. And for as much as we would like to believe that the world revolves around the United States, that is simply not the case.
Tuesday evening in London, the US Women's Gymnastics team, dubbed the "Fab Five" captured gold in the overall team competition. While this singular marquee event was taking place, men's water polo was being shown on NBC to countless dozens across the country.
As Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Allison Schmitt and Caitlin Leverenz were all swimming for gold; men's beach volleyball was offered up on broadcast tape delay.
Of course we all know NBC's rationale. The marquee events, particularly women's gymnastics and swimming, have the highest number of viewers and the network wants to save their broadcasting of them for when they will get the most people watching. It is a simple rationale and one that for many years made sense.
But that rationale doesn't work anymore in 2012.
Case in point, the NBC Nightly News still leads their broadcast with news – results included – from that day's events, ostensibly doing their jobs as journalists while ignoring their programming mission of allowing their audience to experience the highs and lows of athletic competition in all of its tape-delayed glory.
Years ago, before the social media revolution, it was not that difficult to avoid news reports of what happened earlier that day a world away. If you wanted to not hear about Olympics results, all you had to do was keep your radio off for a few minutes on your drive home from work.
That's not the case today.
Twitter and Facebook are live, immediate new sources, beaming instant images and even video as events happen. In fact, NBC capitalized on the online revolution, making live free streams of all sports, as they happened, available to anyone who was a cable television subscriber.
In order to watch marquee events live, NBCSports.com requires users to enter their cable provider information, which makes about as much sense as needing to show your driver's license to buy bread. Nevertheless, NBC's boast about showing every sport on at least one of their multiple platforms is true.
But it's unnecessarily maddening.
The fact of the matter is that while there will be at least some audience for every sport simply because it is the Olympics, NBC would be wise to relegate ping-pong, badminton, water polo, fencing, et al, to the web cast while actually broadcasting swimming and gymnastics as they happen. Then, in prime-time, the network should re-broadcast the same sports in their entirety for those that could not get away from work to watch them live.
NBC would do well by its viewers and advertisers by giving us the best of both worlds. Certainly there would be far more eyeballs watching live swimming and gymnastics than the typical midday fare of rowing and archery. After all, the drama of live sports is impossible to replicate.
"But wouldn't that hurt NBC's prime time numbers?"
Not one bit. And here is why.
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KsTrug79 | Aug. 1, 2012 at 4:38 p.m. (report)
I know this is sports commentary, so nothing technically needs to be sourced, but this part just rubbed me the wrong way. Otherwise a pretty good take on how current media handles the olympics. 'Olympics fans, conversely, do not have such passion for sports. Often times Olympics fans are soccer moms that watch women's gymnastics and hearken back to their own youth and the tumbling lessons they used to take after school. Olympics fans don't plan their autumn weekends around the Packers and Badgers bye weeks. Olympics fans only have that passion for one or two days every four years. Olympics fans think it is great that Ryan Seacrest is part of the broadcast. Sports fans may love watching the Olympics, but they want to watch the games unfold without any delay of any kind. Olympics fans read books at Brewers games and have never heard of most of the players in the starting lineup.'
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