NBC enrages Olympics viewers one last time

CNN | The Hollywood Reporter | Twitter | Associated Press | Deadline Hollywood
NBC didn’t manage to blunt criticism of its Olympics broadcasts by streaming the games’ closing ceremonies live online Sunday afternoon. That’s in part because it interrupted its evening broadcast of the ceremonies to debut a new situation comedy about veterinarians.

Fans of show-closers The Who were outraged, but fans of the British band Muse — not shrinking violets under the best of circumstances, in this former music reporter’s experience — took to Twitter with even more fury after that band’s performance of the Olympics’ official song was cut.

CNN’s Chelsea J. Carter curates a little of the Twitter reaction:

The Twitter-sphere exploded, with “#NBCfail” and “#closingceremonies” trending worldwide, after NBC cut out performances by Ray Davies, Kate Bush, The Who and the Muse in favor of a commercial-free airing of “Animal Practice.”

“I still don’t understand, it’s a tape delay, so can’t you do the math in advance? Why do you need to cut off the closing ceremony? #nbcfail,” wrote Raj Sarkar on Twitter.


Things were even worse for some Los Angeles-based viewers, The Hollywood Reporter reports:

The Animal Practice preview also came about an hour after DirecTV went dark in Los Angeles for a half-hour during the closing ceremony, meaning some subscribers missed several of the show’s performances.

These were the “social media” Olympics, though, which means reaction was part of the entertainment, writes the Associated Press’ David Bauder.

NBC announced partnerships with both Facebook and Twitter before the games began. Their tangible impact was somewhat limited — superfluous prime-time segments with Ryan Seacrest — but the intangible impact of increasing visibility for the event is more important. People were more engaged, and watched more as a result, said chief NBC researcher Alan Wurtzel.

One out of five Olympic viewers in the U.S. watched more than one screen at the same time, with tablets or smartphones hooked into the Internet or social media, he said.

And, of course, they complained. There were 150 million tweets about the Olympics, Twitter reports. NBC Sports honcho Mark Lazarus told Bauder the network was listening. Sort of:

“Some of the criticism I think was fair and we took note of it and learned from it,” Lazarus said, “but I think in general a lot of it came from people who weren’t fully aware of all of the things we were doing.”

But viewership was up over the 2008 Beijing games, Bauder notes, and a Pew survey of U.S. viewers found 76 percent thought NBC’s coverage was dandy. The network may have broken even on the games. It did experiment a little, Bauder writes:

The network had planned to broadcast the gold-medal finals in singles tennis at 9 a.m. in all markets, meaning it would be live on the East Coast and delayed for three hours out West. Instead, the finals were shown live throughout the country. NBC paid a price; its West Coast ratings were only a third of those in the East. A similar approach was taken for the gold medal men’s basketball game that the U.S. won. The network ultimately must decide whether consumer goodwill is worth the revenue loss.

In Great Britain, the BBC’s broadcast of the closing ceremonies drew 26.3 million viewers, nearly 81 percent of the viewing population, despite airing Muse’s performance. “The figures won’t account for numbers watching on big screens provided in pubs and parks across the country,” Deadline Hollywood’s report says. “The network says its Olympics coverage has reached 51.9M Brits since July 27th, or 90.4% of the population.”

Related: Olympics 2012: What It Was Like Living on London Time in NYC (Huffington Post) | What the Olympics taught us about data journalism (The Guardian)

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  • Anonymous

    they should have played the ENTIRE ceremony, between their ads, since it was taped for USA. it’s insulting to all fans of any thing that was cut. you may not like, say, my fave George Michael, but I was livid that they didn’t show us his performance of his song written to the fans for praying for him during his pneumonia bout! Thanks NBC… thanks a lot! I’ll never see that because the IOC requests youtube to remove videos quickly. :( Also, would have liked to seen Muse, and Ray Davies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.castelli.1 Susan Castelli

    Horrible coverage the entire time. Too much talking and not enough sports. We in the USA like to see OTHER countries’ athletes, too, you know. The final blow was cutting off the closing ceremony so that after three hours or whatever it was of watching and waiting
    , I didn’t get to see The Who perform. All in all, very BADLY DONE, NBC.

  • Wendell Anderson

    NBC’s failure in covering the London 2012 Olympics was not only in delayed telecasts, but is the abysmal amateur reporting from factually ignorant and totally biased reporters/commentary.

    Most people in USA who are interested  in the Olympics are not impervious to great performances of athletes of other countries, and many also appreciate and even enjoy various Olympic events in which the USA is not dominating or even competing.

    On several occasions, NBC sports caster completely omitted to name and country of winning (even all three medal positions) athlete if they were not an American. Some US Olympic reporters disparaged the performance of foreign athlete champions, and in case o fJamaica’s Usain Bolt made subtle comments about possible drug use, when these same sleaze bag commentators never made any similar type negative  statements about Michael Phelps or any of other US swimmers.

    All of a sudden Bolt’s repeat Olympic wins in 2008 and 2012 made him suspect, when similar repeat victories by US swimmers would never bring such suggestion to mind. The many  articles comments on this topic brought out horrendous hateful and prejudicial statements about “Jamaica and drug use”.

    Maybe NBC’s poor reporting performance is reflection of society, especially since the 2012 Olympics was disappointedly not solely about American Football and Baseball.

  • Anonymous

    The Olympic’s closing was so musically lame and without any sort of theme that I simply voted early with the remote!

    And after Lord Sebastian Coe made is little self-praise presentation, the choice was really that difficult.