Spoiler alert: Expect more of same from NBC

mmccombs@islandpacket.comAugust 4, 2012 

My favorite tweet from the Olympics so far goes something like this: Tune in to NBC tonight to see who wins, Dewey or Truman.

NBC has taken a beating this week on social media, primarily via Twitter's hashtag #NBCfails, for its coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympic games, and rightfully so.

The basic complaint is an old one: NBC airs far too little live coverage and far too much delayed coverage and too many pre-packaged features.

This time around, NBC is catching more heat than usual, mainly because smartphones and tablets have made it easier than ever before to get information in real time. Some people just don't like to watch when they already know who has won.

And NBC hasn't helped itself.

Promos for the Today Show showing American swimmer Missy Franklin with her gold medal for winning the 100-meter backstroke angered viewers Monday night who hadn't yet watched the race.

The Los Angeles Times reported that viewers who used NBC's Live Extra to watch online still weren't getting them live. If they also used NBC's Olympics app for smartphones and tablets, they would have gotten an alert on their phone that Michael Phelps had won gold in the 200-meter individual medley while he still had about 50 meters to swim on their computers.

On Wednesday, Deadspin.com accused NBC of manipulating Tuesday's women's team gymnastics final. Russian world champion Ksenia Afanasyeva's horrible fall during the floor exercise basically gave the gold medal to the Americans early in the event.

But it was nowhere to be seen in NBC's prime-time broadcast. They instead used footage from a different rotation and conveniently never showed the standings, which would have illustrated just how big the American lead had become.

By the time the event wound down to the Team USA floor exercise, all the Americans neeeded to do was avoid disaster to keep the gold. But commentator Al Trautwig instead could be heard wondering if the U.S. "can deliver a knockout blow."

But don't expect a change any time soon, no matter how loud the Twitter buzz becomes. Despite the fact that, for many, social media and the rise of technology have made NBC's way of covering the Olympics obsolete, the entire nation hasn't caught up. Not yet, anyway.

NBC's coverage averaged 36,000,000 viewers a day over the first three days, the highest numbers for the first weekend since the Olympics have been televised.

And NBC now says that instead of taking a loss this Olympiad, it stands to break even.

So the next time the Olympics come around and you're curious how NBC will fare, much like the Peacock's prime-time broadcast tonight, you'll know how the story will end.

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