Tape-delays. Spoiler alerts. Streaming coverage that requires a cable package to access.
Complaints about coverage of the 2012 London Olympics are being boiled down to one hashtag — #nbcfail.
Media critic Jeff Jarvis called reading through #nbcfail search results "at least as entertaining as much of NBC's coverage of the Olympics" and added:
That common experience, of course, being live coverage.
There's a real time delay to take into consideration. Prime time television hours on the U.S. East Coast are during the middle of the night in London.
Even so, the network's decision to hold hot events for prime time broadcasting has not been a hit with viewers — especially when stuff like this happens:
- NBC broadcasters spoiled the outcome of the Michael Phelps – Ryan Lochte 400-meter individual medley showdown. Instead of carrying the matchup live, NBC aired a taped interview with Phelps. After Lochte won the event by nearly 4 seconds with Phelps finishing a disappointing fourth, NBC Nightly News led with the surprising racing result before the event had aired on television.
- Jim Bell, executive producer for the NBC Olympics and Today Show, has been more active on Twitter in the past few days than during the past two years since he created the account. Here's his first tweet from Oct. 1, 2010:
- Bell, with the handle @jfb, had 98 tweets total as of 10 a.m. Monday, July 30. Of those, about 40 were sent in the past few days.
He did address the spoiler alert situation after @MomInStL tweeted this: "You should have Brian Williams give a spoiler alert before he spills the results of event that hasn't aired in the US yet!" Bell tweeted that it was a "fair request" and followed up with this:
- Not everyone thinks NBC failed. It's worth noting that tape delays aren't new. Richard Sandomire said in the New York Times that "Complaining about tape delay is an Olympic sport in its way."
- Technology and social media, however, bring higher expectations from viewers — and the means with which to complain in an impressive manner.
- But the London Games are the first with Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites in full flower, in a mobile phone era where people carry computers that instantly deliver news in their pockets. It has amplified the impatience of viewers who want to see events on their large-screen TVs instantly and haven’t been mollified by NBC’s decision to stream the events live online.
- There are those who don't care so much for catching the action live, too.
- Calling the coverage "perfect" is most definitely an opinion, and one Bell touted by retweeting a Business Insider column by Jay Yarow titled: "Shut Your Pie-Holes, People: NBC's Olympics Coverage Is Perfect."
- Not everyone is online all the time all day long. For those people, a nicely curated, best-of package at night is awesome. Even for those of us that are online, it's still pretty cool to see how things happen. Sports are better seen than read. For the rest of you, it's live-streamed online. Go nuts watching it. There is nothing stopping you.
- Nothing is stopping you from watching the live streamed coverage of every event offered online by NBC, unless you happen to be one of those people without a "cable, satellite or telco TV subscription that includes MSNBC and CNBC."
- Joshua Holland writes for Alternet.org that more than 100 million Americans fall into the category of those who won't be able to access that live streaming coverage provided online. Read more from Holland:
- Heidi Moore writes for The Guardian that she is "using anti-internet-censorship technology of the kind that is favored by political dissidents trying to connect with the outside world against the wishes of oppressive regimes" to get coverage of the Olympics from the BBC.
- While NBC may point to its live streaming of all events online as a solution for viewers upset with the traditional time-delayed TV model, that certainly won't help them defend other criticisms of how the Olympics have been handled. Take, for example, when a tribute to the founder of the world wide web during the opening ceremonies garnered the comment from co-host Meredith Vieira: "If you haven't heard of him, we haven't either." Watch it: