July 31, 2012
NBC Gets an Earful on Twitter About Its Subpar Olympics Coverage — But Still Earns a Record TV Audience: Video Streaming Shortfalls and Delays In Broadcasting Key Competitions To Fit Prime-Time Spur Hashtag Bashings
Over the weekend, NBC announced more record audiences for its prime-time TV coverage of the London Olympics — even as perceived shortfalls in the network's coverage and streaming technology spurred widespread complaints on Twitter, where tweeters expressed anger over the network's online streaming efforts and delays in broadcasting key competitions. Contributions to the Twitter hashtags #NBCfail and #NBCsucks surged on Sunday, with many posters complaining about the quality of NBC's online platform, which promised to show every sporting contest live for those unwilling to wait hours for the network's main primetime coverage of the day's events. "you suck! I can't stream anything because your website is broken. It even verified directtv account, just to tease me. #NBCFail" read one tweeter's posting to #NBCfail on Sunday, the Chicago Tribune reports. Others complained about the voluminous ads interrupting the network's coverage across multiple broadcast and cable outlets, and commentary by some of the NBC anchors. "Finally got @nbcolympics live stream working online only to find it full of ads & streaming issues," another tweet read. NBC Olympics producer Jim Bell took to Twitter to respond briefly to some of the gripes early on Sunday. "Coverage on both net & cables a mix of tape and live events. Yesterday nearly 40 hours of live Oly sports on television btw," Bell tweeted, the Trib reports. Nevertheless, NBC said on Sunday that a record 28.7 million U.S. viewers watched its primetime coverage on Saturday's first day of competition, when popular swimmer Michael Phelps was shut out of the medals for the first time in years. Plenty of folks seemed quite satisfied with NBC's efforts: "I'm watching tons of live events on NBC's Olympics app. I don't understand the #nbcfail nagging. Bonus: No commentary, just game sound!" one tweeter posted, according to the article.
NBC said Saturday's evening audience was 2 million more than watched the first day of competition during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. An average 12.3 million U.S. viewers watched the Olympics on television on Saturday morning — a 56 percent increase over the Saturday daytime audience for Beijing in 2008, the network said. Coverage also drew a record 40.7 million U.S. television audience for Friday's opening ceremony from London — despite complaints that Americans had to wait for up to seven hours to watch the ceremony, the Chicago Tribune reports.
NBCUniversal, which is majority owned by cable operator Comcast, paid $1.18 billion for the U.S. rights to broadcast the London Games, and has won $1 billion in advertising for its Olympic broadcasts over the next three weeks. It is planning an unprecedented 5,500 hours of cover across its cable and free-to-air outlets, and its NBCOlympics.com website — more than double the hours devoted to the Beijing Games. "Whatever NBC does they will receive criticism, especially in the Social Media Olympics, you can't please everyone. TV though remains the big ad revenue producer and they paid 1.18 billion dollars, so what do you expect?," Horizon Media analyst Brad Adgate told Reuters over the weekend.