Olympic Fans Take to Twitter to Blast NBC Coverage of the London Games

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

So NASA can send us high res images from Mars in minutes but it takes NBC 6 hours to get the Olympics on tv to the USA from London? #nbcfail@busblog

NBC just described women Olympian gymnasts as emotional divas. Male athletes are determined and passionate. #NBCFail- @doclobby

Funny how the advertisements stream flawlessly, but the match looked like Lego blocks moving around on an old green rug. #NBCFail@mikeneumann

Olympic fans are fighting made about NBC’s delayed coverage of the Olympic Games in London and they’ve been taking to Twitter to vent their frustration, marking with the hashtag #nbcfail.  With delays of up to 6 hours (24 hours for 3D coverage), viewers are finding they either have to live in a no news free zone every day, or deal with spoilers giving them the results of their favorite events and athletes.  One Tweeter complaining about the delay of the opening ceremonies tweeted that NBC broadcast the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live, in the middle of the night, but that refuses to show a live event during the games, even during daytime coverage.  And even the streaming coverage is delayed.

And the reason is $imple …. NBC paid over $1 nillion for the broadcast rights to the London Games in the United States, and they’re bound to protect that investment by showing most of the plum events – like swimming, beach volleyball, and gymnastics, in prime time where they can command the highest fees for commercial advertising.  And according to AdAge, the strategy is paying off as NBC is enjoying record ratings every night of the games.   It has sold over $200 million more in ad revenue over the Beijing games (including nearly $6.5 million from the Obama re-election campaign) so far and they’re still selling more airtime for week two.  The network has also surpassed their viewing guarantees to advertisers by twenty percent or more.

But in the process of achieving record numbers, NBC also made some serious errors in their coverage.  Just before Olympic hopeful Missy Franklin won the gold media in the 200m back stroke, NBC aired a promo for Today with Franklin hugging her prize, leaving viewers hoping mad.  They showed a man in the street interview about how fans were enjoying the games and the interviewee didn’t know he was talking to Olympic and World Heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.  But ever gracias, Holyfield took to Twitter himself to cut NBC some slack:

Look, the @todayshow did a good job. It was hard to recognize me with the baseball cap. This could happen to any reporter. LOL!! @holyfield

And in another even more embarrassing miscue, after Gabby Douglas won the Gold Medal for the women’s gymnastics all around, NBC showed a promo for their new sitcom “Animal Practice” with a monkey on the parallel bars.  The poorly timed promo occurred right after NBC Olympics host Bob Costas said “There are some African American girls out there who tonight are saying to themselves: ‘Hey, I’d like to try that too.’ More from London in a moment.”

The rest of the world is now privy to how racist @NBC/@CNBC is after they aired an ad with a monkey after #GabbyDouglas #NBCFail@POSHGLAM

NBC has since apologized for what they referred to as an “unfortunate juxtaposition.”  And had to do so quickly since it lit up the “Twitterverse,” with those complaining about the coverage.

But the biggest embarrassment, so far, is when NBC pushed Twitter to suspend journalist Guy Adams, a correspondent for The Independent, who had been live blogging almost non stop about how terrible the NBC coverage was.  Finally, after a few days of pointing out mistake after mistake from announcers, Adams finally tweeted: “The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven’t started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what u think!” Adams also included Zenkel’s corporate email address and apparently that was all NBC needed to file a complain with Twitter that Adams had posted “personal information” about their president online.

My colleague @guyadams‘ Twitter account was suspended after @nbc complained about his tweets criticising the network’s coverage – @KevinJRawlinson

Twitter is a production partner for the games and is getting prominent coverage of the social media network with segments about fans and athletes “tweeting” about the games. Additionally, it turns out that Zenkel’s email is listed on NBCs website, meaning that it isn’t private at all, and as such, no such violation occurred.  It was also revealed that Twitter approached NBC about Adams tweets, showed them how to file a take down complaint, and then banned him.   But when Adams was suspended, the Twitterverse was lit on fire and Zenkel’s email address went viral, the exact opposite of what NBC wanted.    Adams’ Twitter account has since been restored, but the embarrassment on the peacock network continues and calls into question the ethical reasons behind the ban in the first place.

And don’t get the Twitter started about the sports reporting chops of Ryan Seacrest:

RyanSeacrest is the high fructose corn syrup of TV journalism. Ubiquitous and without any apparent benefit. #NbcFail- @BettyBowers

Ryan Seacrest on how the world watches the games” – easy answer it is called “LIVE” #NBCFail :)   - @jen1026

That “Social Download” with Ryan Seacrest was the most ridiculous irrelevant waste of my time. #NBCFail@b_reith

It’s great having a former Olympic athlete like Ryan Seacrest in this broadcast. Oh wait … #nbcfail @karensmitty

But if you think Twitter fans will be any happier in 2014 for the Winter Games in Sochi or 2016 for the Summer Games in Rio, guess again.  NBC has already ponied up a record $4.4 BILLION to cover both those events. ANd after the ratings bonanza they’re enjoying, it’s likely we’ll be seeing even more #nbcfail tweets there as well.

Hat tip: Tech Crunch

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.

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