Thursday, August 2, 2012

And The Winner Is...

This is a great article that discusses some of the nuances of broadcasting the Olympics. It focuses mainly on the stories we don’t get to see, like the upsetting downfall of gymnast Jordyn Wieber who fell just a little short of perfect. What I found most interesting about the article is a short couple-sentence mention on how NBC deals with the tape delay of the events in the US. Because the games are happening five hours in advance, US TV viewers could find out all the news from the Internet before they watch NBC coverage. I don’t remember too much from watching NBC at the Beijing Olympics back in 2008, but I like to think that NBC does not give spoilers. They article quotes, “Wieber was such the favorite that though the Olympics are on hours and hours of tape delay, the NBC announcers didn’t even begin to alert the viewing audience that something might be amiss with her chances until soon before the final element, the floor exercise”. Imagine if NBC had reported the outcome before the Americans had seen the program. Would we be glad to know, or feel cheated out of getting to experience the outcome ourselves by watching it on TV? Is a journalist’s job to report news immediately, or convey news in order for the audience to make their own personal connections? 



  1. NBC wasn't going to report on it because they're tape-delaying everything on TV. They're live-streaming on their website, but they're not going to ruin it for their television audience. However, everyone else is ruining it for them because they're all reporting on it, particularly on the internet.

    After Lochte won the men's finals and Phelps finished fourth, Time Tweeted about it no less than a half hour later. I already knew because I watched it here in a pub, but it was ruined for all of my friends back home who were still watching the soccer matches but follow Time on Twitter.

    NBC definitely needs to do live coverage. People are still going to watch it. The World Cup is broadcast live from wherever it's being held, and fans will find a way to watch.

  2. I think NBC tape-delaying events is perfectly fine. They have used the model of a three hour block from 7-10 PM every night for the past few Olympics and its worked. Ratings are doing great this year, and the program gives viewers a reason to watch.

    I understand that swimming and basketball are big, but how can NBC get people to watch uncommon events like badminton or judo? They create an emotionally engaging program that uses journalist created stories on the participants and their journey to London. The American public doesn't know who most of these athletes are, so NBC needs to let them know who is competing and why they are special.

    I know it's tough to stay off of twitter, but not everyone can sit and watch the Olympics during the day. NBC has found a way to showcase the games in an engaging way that makes it more intense and exciting for viewers.

  3. When I was in Bath last weekend, a group of eleven of us just sat in a pub watching the Olympics to a good few hour. The pub had free WiFi, so we were of course updating our Twitter and Facebook accounts about the winners of the events. We got into a small discussion about whether or not this could possibly be a problem for NBC, since all our American friends were able to see the winners names in real time since we were posting from England. We also casually laughed at the fact that we were probably ruing the Olympics for all our friends back home. A trending topic on Twitter the next day was #NBCfail. People were posting about their annoyance with NBC for airing the Olympics so long afterwards that it became virtually irrelevant by the time most people were able to see it on their TVs. On a more serious note, however, I do think NBC is doing itself an injustice by handling the Olympic coverage in such an antiquated way. In this Internet generation, do they really think they can get away with airing the Olympics hours after the event actually happened? NBC needs to challenge itself to make the format more relevant to the viewing behavior of today’s Internet addicts.

  4. I'm somewhat conflicted about NBC's delays. I agree with Jessica's view of NBC handling the Olympic coverage in an outdated way, and I think Sam is right when she says NBC needs to air live because fans will find a way to watch. But at the same time, what about those Olympic fans who feel cheated by checking internet updates about the games? Isn't the whole point of the Olympics to watch the events as they unfold and feel the suspense and joy/heartbreak as your team wins/loses? I can admire NBC for delaying the games only because I know I wouldn't want any "spoiler alerts" on a game I was intent on watching. It just ruins the magic.