Since the $43 million puppet show known as the 2012 London Olympic Opening Ceremonies started last Friday afternoon (EDT), social media users have been subjected to almost non-stop whining about NBC’s practice of airing major Olympic events on television during prime time.
Complaints about tape delayed coverage are an evergreen with Olympics held on foreign soil. But the London Games are the first with Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites in full flower, in a mobile phone era where people carry computers that instantly deliver news in their pockets. It has amplified the impatience of viewers who want to see events on their large-screen TVs instantly and haven’t been mollified by NBC’s decision to stream the events live online.
James Poniewozik, Time magazine TV critic, tweeted that “NBC tape delay coverage is like the airlines: its interest is in giving you the least satisfactory service you will still come back for.”
That drew a quick response from NBC’s Bell: “You do know that all sports events are being streamed live right?”
“I do, indeed!” replied Poniewozik. “Have enjoyed it. Apparently a lot of folks still prefer watching it on TV.”
London time is 5 hours ahead of Eastern Time, so if NBC was to air only live events on their main network, they’d have nothing to show in prime time. Some users argue they should show these events live in the afternoon on their sister channels like MSNBC or CNBC and then re-air them as repeats on NBC in prime time. NBC paid over a billion dollars for the rights to these Olympic games. They’re not going to burn off high profile sports on their little-watched cable channels during the little watched afternoon hours and air a repeat in the lucrative prime time hours. To do so would kind of be financial malfeasance.
NBC “airs” every sport live via internet streaming, which is available to customers of about a zillion different cable companies. If you don’t have cable, you’re out of luck on the live streaming, kind of like I’m out of luck trying to watch HBO because I don’t subscribe to that or read magazines I don’t subscribe to the minute they are released. Subscribing to things gives you access you can’t get when you don’t subscribe. You know, sorry. If you’re really into watching the Olympics online and don’t mind a little site hopping, there are nefarious means to do so for free. Google it.
By the way, I do actually subscribe to cable, and I still can’t get the streaming to work on my main computer.
For comparison there were 12 hours of total television coverage of the entire 1964 Summer Olympics in Japan, and 171 hours of total television coverage of the 1996 Summer Olympics, which were held right here in the US. There will be 5,535 hours of television coverage of the 2012 London Olympics, 272.5 hours of which will take place on the main over-the-air NBC network and another 173 of which will take place on the over-the-air Telemundo network. Even with no cable, you’ll get over 445 hours of Olympic coverage over two weeks. That’s over 2 1/2 times more than everything that was broadcast via any method of the 1996 Summer Olympics. With cable, you’re getting more than 32 times the television coverage of the 1996 Olympics.
The real culprits in the spoiling of Olympic results are the assholes you know on Twitter and Facebook and Matt Drudge.