NBC Fail: My Olympics nightmare
For the past two weeks, as a Brit living in Washington DC, I’ve been living in a bubble called #nbcfail.
It started on the night of the Olympics opening ceremony, which NBC delayed by three hours for us viewers on the east coast in order to capture a prime time audience. I went out for the evening, naively assuming that I would be able to watch a rerun of the ceremony the next day.
By the time I switched on the TV on the Friday night, the parade of national teams was in full flow, along with the NBC commentators explaining to American viewers that Sierre Leone is a country in West Africa and that it would not be long before the US team came out.
This patronizing tosh was broken up by TV ads so seamlessly that it was hard to distinguish between the actual event and the hard sell.
The next day, having devoured the rave reviews for the ceremony, I wanted to see Daniel Craig and the Queen jumping out of a helicopter for myself. So began hours of fruitless search to find it online. Only then did I realise that NBC not only had the sole rights in the US for broadcasting the games but were even controlling access to the events after they had happened. The only solution was to watch the highlights on the NBC website, each one preceded by an ad. By the time I had finished I was ready to throw my laptop out of the window.
I was obviously not alone. The hashtag #nbcfail lost no time in trending on Twitter. Among my fellow sufferers in the #nbcfail community was former colleague Guy Adams in Los Angeles, suspended from Twitter for tweeting the (public) email address of an NBC executive. When Guy’s account was restored, he had an additional 10,000 followers. So how did that work out for you, NBC?
We were told by experts like Piers Morgan that such complaints happen every four years with each Olympic Games. But I’ve been working in the United States during past Olympics and can only remember being frustrated at their coverage of US athletes to the exclusion of everyone else. This year’s totalitarian restrictions took the biscuit.
When Usain Bolt triumphed in the 200m, I returned home to watch the (specially edited prime time) day’s events. Was his record-setting race the top of the hour on NBC? Of course not – the victorious US women’s soccer team, and diving, came first.
Last night, the #nbcfail community was livid at the network deciding to broadcast a World War II documentary in prime time rather than the Games. Cue jokes about the tape-delay in finding out who won the war. Or that Tom Brokaw will announce it after the ads.
Finally, NBC has listened to #nbcfail. But it is 17 days too late. So spare me a thought when you are enjoying the closing ceremony on TV. I’ll be squinting into my laptop after NBC agreed to live stream the final hours.
As one of my witty new friends on #nbcfail put it: I’ll miss you when you’re gone. Let’s have another reunion in four years time.Tagged in: #nbcfail, NBC, olympics
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