The Olympics happen every two years between the Winter and Summer games, and NBC has a contract to exclusively show the Olympic games. In previous years I don’t recall NBC doing a horrible job covering the games, but this year in these summer Olympics they have been horrible. It’s not just one thing either, it seems that overall NBC has committed to a damaging strategy and they are sticking to it at all costs regardless of the outcome.
There are any number of situations that we can point to, but let’s start with the fact that they omitted a portion of the opening ceremonies from the American Audience. Then when questioned about it NBC said they customize their telecast to the taste of the American audience, I think a terrorism tribute is something Americans would have been interested in seeing. Instead they did yet another story on Michael Phelps, little did the audience know at the time this was to setup their primary agenda.
That Phelps story was a precursor to the theme they wanted to promote, Phelps vs. Lochte and Michael Phelps has lost a step. At every juncture NBC made sure to refer to Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte as “rivals” despite both of them being members of team USA. I don’t recall any other athletes from the same country being referred to in the same manner, not even Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. Of course Lochte and Phelps diffused NBC’s attempts to paint them in that light as two men who came to the Olympics to compete against each other over competing for their country. Add Bob Costas’s constant questions to Phelps about him being washed up, a bit slow, and under prepared for the Olympic games, he must have asked that question at least 10 times and Phelps kept his cool despite the obviously annoying questioning.
NBC then had issues with people getting upset about the tape delayed coverage, which I won’t blame them for. They have done tape delay in every Olympics depending on the time zone, but I think they neglected to realize that social media today and sports outlets would bombard people with the results. They did a good thing by offering live streams on their website for those who wanted to follow in real time, but the streams were problematic and would often freeze and stop working.
The worst was how NBC used the Olympics platform to promote their own product, a certain level of this is expected, but the went overboard this year. First the new show previews with no commercial interruptions for GO ON and Animal Practice were placed before Olympic late night which came on at 1 AM! So most of the day people are at work and can’t see the games live on their TV anyway, and have to wait until 8pm to watch it. Then they get some TV show they might not want to watch the local news and finally more Olympics when most people are already in bed. Not to mention the fluff segments where they chose not to show events, but instead had Jimmy Fallon on doing a segment.
Those were just a few examples, but there are much too many to count. The bottom line is no one expects NBC to not profit off of the games as they paid for the right to do so, but for years people have just been happy to see just that the games! The stories of the Olympic venues, touching stories about the athletes, and the different countries where the Olympics are held every few years are nice additions as well.
What fans don’t want to see are forced story lines, selective omission of content, Jimmy Fallon, and constant promotions for upcoming NBC television shows. NBC has already touted the games as the most watched television program ever in the United States, but when you have exclusive rights tot he content is that really an accomplishment? People love the Olympics and would watch it on any television station, so touting that accomplishment when you really had no competition is Hall of Fail Worthy! Welcome NBC!