NBC's Delayed Telecasts Show A Company Living In The Last Century

from the wow dept

This is just bizarre. As NBC continues its screwed up process of broadcasting the Olympics by delaying the actual telecast of important events until prime time, apparently a bunch of folks are pissed off that real news sources are reporting on what’s actually happened. They’re targeting the wrong thing, of course. If they’re upset that the news is being reported before it’s being shown on TV, the real problem is NBC’s decision not to show stuff live on TV or to webcast it for those who would prefer to see it live. But people are taking out their anger on newspapers who are giving live reports of what’s actually happening:

“Could you please ask the editor of the front Web page to not name the winners within the headlines/sub-headlines?” asked Ken Waters of Phoenix.  Matt Gooch of Harrisonburg, Va. said he was disappointed when The Times reported the results of the men’s downhill before NBC showed the event.  “This is not Taliban news, nor TARP news, or even Paula Jones type news,” Gooch said.  “There is no meaning to this except the anticipation and suspense that sports viewers feel watching the event live.  Please help me understand why your organization needs to spoil the experience.”

Other news organizations are hearing similar complaints.  Liz Spayd, managing editor of The Washington Post, told a reader who asked for a spoiler alert yesterday that, “It’s an issue we’re trying to evaluate right now.”  She said that it’s a tricky question “for a news site whose greatest value is to break news. We don’t want to be the game spoilers, but when big news happens — an unexpected gold for the U.S., for example, we want it prominently visible on the site.”

Thankfully, the NY Times “has no intention of changing its approach,” recognizing that it’s a news organization, rather than a business to prop up NBC’s ridiculous broadcast scheduling choices.

This does highlight a larger issue that I’ve been noticing lately. In our more “real-time” society, especially with things like Facebook and Twitter, the idea that you can hide from “spoilers” is increasingly arcane. Now, for most broadcasters (other than NBC, apparently) this should represent good news: as it will drive more people to watch content live, rather than trying to save it for later, since they’ll want to avoid spoilers ahead of time. In this case, though, NBC has apparently decided that it knows better than to enable such things.

Of course, plenty of people are smart enough to realize just how badly NBC is managing this, falsely believing that people will just sit and wait until NBC decides to show what it wants, rather than letting people actuallyfollow what’s happening. News reports are popping up highlighting how many people are pissed off at NBC for the ridiculous decision to hide live events in a real-time world. With the end result being that NBC’s brand is being dragged through the mud for not understanding how to broadcast a sporting event in a real-time world:

“In the age of DVRs, Hulu, and mobile phone scoreboards, the pointlessness of NBC’s broadcast strategy — Olympics and otherwise — has never been more obvious. People don’t eat dinner during Nightly News then settle in for three hours of prime-time network programming anymore. They want things when they want them, not when NBC wants them.”

NBC’s bizarre reasoning for this is that it wants to put all the “highlight” moments during prime time when it can sell the most advertising. But, apparently no one there thought that perhaps they could show the actual events live and then use prime time for a nice summary of what happened that day at the Olympics. In that way, they might actually get more viewers. If you ever wanted the epitome of a company still living in the last century, it appears to be NBC Universal.

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Comments on “NBC's Delayed Telecasts Show A Company Living In The Last Century”

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Richard (profile) says:

Customer choice

If you want to watch “as if live” in real time then you can – you just have to avoid the “spoilers”, not hard to do.

In recent years when events like formula 1 have a race in an inconvenient timezone the UK broadcaster has shown it live – and then the whole thing (not just highlights) later at a more convenient time for those who wanted a more relaxed schedule. That way the customer gets to choose. It’s ridiculous for the broadcaster to try to make that choice for you.

mkam (profile) says:

get some sleep

Mike do you sleep?

I watched the men’s downhill although I already knew that Bode surprisingly got the bronze. It was pretty hard to avoid unless you avoid all TV, news, and the Internet. I wanted to see the run anyway. I have been disappointed they don’t stream any of the events I would like to see on the Internet. Can’t they stream with ads or something to make their money. For many people who really love a sport even streaming the training runs would get some viewership, with only NBC having to pay for bandwidth.

It used to be about the athletic competition and now it is about Coke Cola, or whomever is the official X of the olympic games. (fill in the X with tshirt, dishwashing liquid, car, etc)

BigKeithO says:

Re: get some sleep

Have you tried CTV up in Canada? I’m not sure if they block international IP’s or not (reverse Hulu?) but it’s worth a shot.

They have live streaming of everything as well as highlights and recaps and all of that.


Ima Fish (profile) says:

A couple days ago I tossed out this idea: Google should “broadcast” the next Olympics®. The more I think about it the more I think it’s a great idea.

Google could stream every single event in real-time. Plus, you’d be able to watch any event when it’s convenient for you.

Within a couple of years more devices will stream YouTube natively. Of course Google could sell a cheap YouTube set-top devices for those who don’t.

SteveD (profile) says:

The BBC's coverage

The Beeb’s coverage isn’t much better. The events are shown live as Mike demands, but Vancover is eight hours behind London so that means it airs in the middle of the night! The highlights are shown mid-afternoon, so anyone who works a 9-to-5 can only watch it in primetime if they set the DVR.

I consider the complaint valid, however. Major football results in the UK have always traditionally been shown with a spoiler warning for those who plan to watch the match at a more convenient time. Is this really any different?

The point should be not just that people are able to watch stuff live if they want to, but at a time convenient to themselves without the result getting spoiled by over-eager news editors.

Keeping details of results off the front pages of websites doesn’t seem like a concession to NBC’s business model, rather its a way of keeping more sports fans happy. Conscientious news sites should be doing this already.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The BBC's coverage

scores have never been delayed in the US as far as i know. If you missed the Super Bowl, you couldn’t even open the newspaper the next morning and not know who won.

newspapers cater to the news (in theory at least). they report things that are significant. the olympics are significant. one of the biggest problems newspapers had for awhile (and still do in most cases) is reporting news too slowly. they *need* to be real-time to compete. they can’t just cater to some sports fans.

taoareyou (profile) says:

Olympics, eh?

The Olympics are run by just another greed crazed corporation who happens to use great athletes to generate their revenue. While I respect the athletes, I have no desire to support the Olympics. I do not watch any coverage, and I actively avoid purchasing as many things as possible that have that silly little “official sponsor” logo affixed to them.

ThePeacock says:

Preaching to the Choir

Within NBC, there are many who agree with you, from the top down. Unfortunately, the major constituency that does not is the advertisers. They still believe streaming robs the broadcast audience (despite evidence to the contrary). They do not want to buy ads on streams. On theory internally is that advertising staffs still want to reach a “market” instead of connecting to niche audiences.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Preaching to the Choir

“They still believe streaming robs the broadcast audience”

This always bothered me. If I was an advertiser, I’d avoid broadcast TV like the plague.

Advertisers pay more if there are more viewers, the pay less if there are less. With broadcast TV, there is no possible way to know who is watching what at any given point. NBC just uses the Nealson ratings and takes a guess as to how many total people are watching. With Internet broadcast, there are logs that show exactly how many people are watching, how long they watched, if thay watched it again.

I’d prefer to go with the hard numbers rather then the possibility that the broadcasting company is inflating their numbers to get more money. And with how much channels are trying to gouge out of cable providers, current advertisers, and now this, what are the odds that they aren’t inflating prices.

taoareyou (profile) says:

Re: Re: Preaching to the Choir

The problem with the TV ratings guesswork is it is based off the assumption that a certain number of people watch TV. Where they get their numbers, I’m not certain. I hope they are not based off TV sales, since more and more people who own TVs do not use them for watching network TV, but rather DVDs, premium movie channels, game consoles etc.

Add the fact that more and more cable/content distributors are including DVR’s with the standard packages, and then what little people do watch of networks shows has the potential for having advertisements skipped over.

It’s all vaguely interesting to watch them struggle, but whole concept of prime time is, for all purposes, dead.

John Doe says:

Re: Yes & No

Yes, they bought the rights to make money. No, they may or may not make money with their strategy. They are a dinosaur of the last century and do not understand modern media distribution or how to capitalize on it. So your statement should more correctly read:

If they knew how sell the advertising they would be doing it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No one is saying that NBC shouldn’t make money, the point is that they are actually losing money ($400 million) that they may not have had to if they understood today’s viewing habits better. If they delay the broadcast people that are really interested already know the results and have less desire to watch at night (unless it an event that an American does good). The people that are really interested would watch live to see the event take place and the casual view would still watch at night. NBC isn’t the top network so it’s not like they know what they’re doing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ah, yes. Yet another person claiming that NBC is losing $400 million because they either do not know how to make money from the web or do not know how to sell advertising. Wrong on both counts.

As has been recounted multiple times in multiple places on the internet, NBC paid massive amounts more for the broadcasting rights than any company has previously paid. They pretty much knew before the games ever started that they were going to lose money (though I think they thought they were only going to lose $250 million).

My understanding of why someone would overpay for a product by a huge amount is shaky, at best, so I am completely clueless as to why NBC thought paying 30% or so more than the games were actually worth was a good idea.

Absolutely none of this has anything to do with lack of live events, streaming, dancing on the heads of pins, encantations in graveyards at midnight, or anything else. It is all due to overpaying. Period. Everything else is chaff.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

John Doe:

Did you read the same thing I posted? Where is the defense of NBC? Ummm, nowhere.

My point is simple. NBC’s $400 million dollar loss has nothing to do with live events, streaming, voodoo incantations, or anything else. Their loss was a bad business decision. While their loss might be worse because of decisions they made (unproven), the fact remains that they went into the Olympics knowing they overpaid and would never recover what they spent. Why are people mixing a decision regarding overspending with clearly unrelevant issues?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So what? They decided that since they are going to lose money on this deal that there was no point in trying to make more money? No reason to reach out to a new market? No reason to try and give people what they want?

Perhaps if they provided what people wanted, the loss they are anticipating would be less.

Just because they are expecting a net loss for the games doesn’t mean that they are not losing money from unexplored options. The idea should be to minimize that loss as much as possible, not accept it and move on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:


So what? They decided that since they are going to lose money on this deal that there was no point in trying to make more money?

I ask “so what” in return. The fact remains that their decision to lose money on the Olympics has nothing to do with their other decisions regarding streaming, voodoo incantations, holistic healing, etc. You might say the same bad decision making also shows up as…and fill in the blanks, but the decisions are completely unrelated and trying to tie them together makes no sense.

No reason to reach out to a new market?

I do not work for NBC. People make decisions as to how they will do things all the time. Since I was not there, I am unable to hear their logic and reasoning for the decisions they made.

No reason to try and give people what they want?

Okay, just what is it that “people” “want”? I do not want live coverage prior to 7 PM. I have a day job. I am uninterested in streaming. I like NBC and CNBC’s coverage. They distill the events down to the parts that I mostly want to watch. Apparently that is what most people want, given that they are #1 in the ratings.

Perhaps if they provided what people wanted, the loss they are anticipating would be less.

You have yet to provide evidence of what people want. Just because you and a small handful of people want something does not mean those numbers are high enough to warrant attention. Note that people still want a flying car, but it has yet to happen because the numbers are not high enough.

Just because they are expecting a net loss for the games doesn’t mean that they are not losing money from unexplored options. The idea should be to minimize that loss as much as possible, not accept it and move on.

I absolutely agree. However, they obviously were unable to explore many options prior to the start of the games. Furthermore, I am not a huge fan of shutting the door after the horse has not only left, but died of old age.

The problem here was never lack of alternatives for watching the games, but overpaying for the games. No amount of additional expenditures for setting up more online streaming and trying to explore alternative revenue was going to save that money – it was a sunk cost.

So, they could spend even more money trying to “save” that money, or go conservative and with is relatively tried and true. After an anticipated loss in the hundreds of millions I could easily see a senior executive telling people to cut their losses as much as possible. Yes, going after alternative revenue streams might have cut their losses by some amount, but it would not have “saved” the $250 to $400 million already lost, so I see people saying “good money after bad” before telling people to cut back on any new Olympic-related ventures.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Ah, yes. How about some actual facts?

NBC bid a ridiculously high $2.38 billion for the 2010 and 2012 games, well beyond any other bidders for the games. In fact, the other serious bidders, Fox and Disney, were bidding in the neighborhood of about $1 billion (I think Fox bid somewhere around $1.3 billion) less because they projected the economy would not support much higher.

Now, let us do some math. If NBC had won the games for, say, $1.5 billion, then instead of the currently projected $200 million loss (projected two days ago), they would be MAKING somewhere in the neighborhood of $600 MILLION. Wow.

Once again, no amount of streaming, alternative revenue streams, etc., etc., will ever overcome basic bad business decision making. While NBC’s decisions might have aggravated their loss (though the projected loss has been decreasing, but we will have to see whether NBC reveals actual losses after the dust settles), it was too late for any significant changes in the revenue stream.

Hulser (profile) says:

It's about courtasy

Mike, your argument that by broadcasting Olympic events live, NBC would avoid some of these problems may be valid for diehard fans that would watch the events in off hours, but what about the people who DVR the events for viewing the next day? You have the exact same problem of Olympic events being spoiled by overzealous news organizations.

The problem is not about NBC’s decision to delay broadcast of Olympic events. The problem is that the advent of the DVR requires a new etiquette regarding events and shows that are going to be timeshifted. When I go to lunch with co-workers, you can’t just blurt out what happened on Lost the night before. You have to be aware that fans of the show may have DVRed it, but haven’t watched it yet.

Mike, maybe your air quotes of “spoiler” indicates that you don’t take seriously the idea that some people get quite a bit of enjoyment out of the anticipation involved in watching a TV show or a sporting event, but many of us do. When NBC decides to air Olympic events is irrelevant to the issue of being courteous and not spoiling the results for other people.

MBraedley (profile) says:

Re: It's about courtasy

“Mike, your argument that by broadcasting Olympic events live, NBC would avoid some of these problems may be valid for diehard fans that would watch the events in off hours, but what about the people who DVR the events for viewing the next day? You have the exact same problem of Olympic events being spoiled by overzealous news organizations.

Maybe you should read the post again, because it’s not the people who DVR the events that are complaining about the newspapers posting results early. These people realize that there is a high likelihood that they’ll see the results before they watch the event later. The people who are complaining are the ones that don’t know any better.

Hulser (profile) says:

Re: Re: It's about courtasy

Maybe you should read the post again, because it’s not the people who DVR the events that are complaining about the newspapers posting results early.

I understand the content of the original post. My question related to extending the point of the post to a different group of people, the DVRers. The point being that even if NBC were to broadcast the events live, this may solve the problem of spoilers for some people (the people described in the post) but not for other people (the DVRers).

Hulser (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 It's about courtasy

But DVRers aren’t the ones who complained.

Once again, I understand this. My point is that even if NBC implemented the solution proposed by Mike — airing Olympic events live — the spoiler problem might be resolved for most of the people reference in the post, but you would not address the problem for the DVRers. What I’m trying to get across is that the problem of spoilers is bigger than just one group.

MBraedley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 It's about courtasy

Yes, but my point is that the DVRers don’t care about spoilers to begin with. They know there’s a high likelihood, especially with sporting events, that they’ll be spoiled some way or another. They live with this fact and move on. The dinosaurs, OTOH, don’t understand that if they don’t want to be spoiled, they have to actively avoid situations where they could be spoiled. DVRers do understand this, and will say things like “I haven’t seen that episode yet, don’t spoil it for me” when the topic comes up in casual conversations.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: It's about courtasy

“The problem is that the advent of the DVR requires a new etiquette regarding events and shows that are going to be timeshifted.”

Don’t tell me how the Olympics have gone so far, I haven’t watched the first day yet. And definitely don’t tell me what happened on Lost, I’m only on season 1. You can’t tell me what happened on Smallville, I’m only on season 7. I’m only half way threw the current season of Heroes. I’m only on season 3 of Supernatural.

Do we get the point yet?

burnzie13 says:

Re: It's about courtasy

I beleive you mean “Courtesy” regardless of that when did become my problem that someone else decided to watch an event after it has happened? I shouldn’t have to assume that someone hasn’t seen something and avoid talking about it If they have decided to watch something later. It’s their responsibility to avoid finding out the results, whether they have to avoid websites likley to present the results or not read newspapers(if they even print those anymore) and ultimately letting people you are talking to know that you don’t want to know the results. They can then decide if the want to respect your choice or if they would prefer to discuss the results with others the could let you know and you could leave.

As far as the NBC situation goes people should definitely be blaming NBC and should in no way expect news companies to hide important events from view because of another company’s (a competitor for most) bad decision. To do so would also punish people who are too busy to watch the events at all but want to keep up to date on the Olympics when they can. Otherwise do we schedule all news releases in the world based on NBC’s bad programming decisions?

Hulser (profile) says:

Re: Re: It's about courtasy

when did become my problem that someone else decided to watch an event after it has happened?

From a purely selfish standpoint, it’s not your problem. You don’t have to refrain from talking about an already-aired sporting event or show. But courtesy is not about what you have to do, but what’s the polite thing to do. So, feel free to be a jackass and blurt out the ending of the episode or who won the game. It’s your choice.

Otherwise do we schedule all news releases in the world based on NBC’s bad programming decisions?

I think you’re omitting a middle ground of just giving people fair warning. If I go to a web site or open a newspaper, I can reasonably be expected to see the results of an Olympic event. It’s all on one page, so it’s hard to avoid. So if it’s important to me, I wouldn’t go to a news web site or read a newspaper until after I watched the event. But what about watching the news on TV or listening to the radio while driving to work where you’re never sure when they’ll discuss certain stories? I listen to a radio station that actually warns you about upcoming Olympics results. I think this is a good compromise.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: It's about courtasy

Out of curiosity, how long should people be waiting to discuss the news before it stops being discourteous? Until *you* get to watch it? Till your neighbour gets around to watching his DVR copy? Until NBC have managed to milk the maximum amount of profit from advertisers?

What if you’re online and you stumble across a foreign news source? Should they also be subject to NBC’s self-imposed time limits? What about people who *want* to get the results, but aren’t particularly bothered about watching the live footage? How long should they wait till you’ve bothered to catch up, and then they can “courteously” get the results they want?

“I listen to a radio station that actually warns you about upcoming Olympics results.”

OK, so stick to the sources that report in the way you prefer, then. Don’t force your preferred way of thinking on to everybody else.

Hulser (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 It's about courtasy

Out of curiosity, how long should people be waiting to discuss the news before it stops being discourteous?

I don’t think there is universally accepted, objective time limit. Like anything dealing with social norms and courtesy, it would depend on the individual. What I would say though is this duration is increasing with the growth of DVRs. In the last couple of years, it’s become much mor common among my friends and co-workers for people to say “OK, who hasn’t watched the latest episode of Lost?” or whatever show before starting a discussion on the show.

What if you’re online and you stumble across a foreign news source?

It sounds like you think I’m suggesting some kind of Fairness Doctrine like agency that would monitor every news agency in the world to ensure they have an Olympic results blackout. If I personally don’t want to know the results of an Olympic event, I would avoid media where I might get that information. In my mind, the trouble comes when you get surprised with a spoiler. You can stay off the web and even shut off the radio on the way to work, but you can’t shut off your co-workers or friends. You have to rely on their courtesy and good judgement not to ambush you with a spoiler.

Don’t force your preferred way of thinking on to everybody else.

Well, I didn’t have to force anything on anybody; naturally, over time people have become more sensitive to the issue of spoilers. While many people have little consideration for the feelings and opinions of others, there are many others who understand that more and more of the people around them timeshift TV and maybe it would be nice not to blurt out a spoiler. So, it’s not exactly my idea that I’m “forcing” on people. It’s an idea that’s been out there for a while, long before I said anything about it.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 It's about courtasy

None of that really relates to the issue at hand – why should factual information not be discussed by news organisations, and why should people not have the choice themselves?

As you say, it’s somewhat courteous for friends and co-workers to not discuss a recent fictional TV show in the presence of those who haven’t watched it yet (although try that overseas – it’s almost impossible to take part in discussions of shows like Lost online because Americans get to see it months before – hence the popularity of “piracy”).

But, this is a rather different situations to *news* organisations discussing *news*. Especially since the only reason why this is a real issue is that NBC are apparently not allowing people to view the event until way after the fact. True, many would still opt to time-shift, but that would be their decision, not that of a 3rd party.

Bob Bunderfeld (profile) says:

Re: It's about courtesy

I’m sorry that I forgot to bow down when you walked into the room; guess I’m one of those people that just don’t realize you and your friends were more important then the rest of us.

Your argument is ridiculous simply because you think people should do it your way and only your way. If I was sitting around a table with several friends and we were talking about what happened on the last LOST episode, if someone in our group didn’t want to hear it, they should excuse their self from the table and go to the bathroom. The same applies to you, just because you want to watch something DELAYED, doesn’t mean everyone should do it because you want it that way.

If there is an event I want to watch Delayed, I make it a point NOT to listen to anything that might spoil it for me. Of course, if the event is something HUGE, like say the Super Bowl, I wouldn’t expect ESPN not to air the result or highlights until I’ve had the chance to view my Recording. I have the responsibility, if I want to keep things suspenseful, to NOT put myself in places where the results of the “Big Event” would be announced.

Seriously, people don’t have to wait for you to see anything before they start talking about it. I know this might be a shock to your system, but no matter what you think, you are not someone of that great importance; neither am I, and I certainly don’t expect ANYONE to not talk about what they watched.

Hulser (profile) says:

Re: Re: It's about courtesy

I was sitting around a table with several friends and we were talking about what happened on the last LOST episode, if someone in our group didn’t want to hear it, they should excuse their self from the table and go to the bathroom.

Really? You and your friends have so little to talk about that you would force someone to leave the table rather than just move onto a different topic?

I have the responsibility, if I want to keep things suspenseful, to NOT put myself in places where the results of the “Big Event” would be announced.

I agree. Obviously the size of the event affects one’s expectations on reasonably running across the results by accident. Superbowl? Lock yourself in your house, shut all the blinds, and don’t turn on any electronic device. But the finale of a TV episode? I shouldn’t have to go to extremes to avoid this being spoiled and I would hope that the kinds of people I call friends would have enough respect not to blurt out the ending before at least checking to see if the people at the table saw the episode.

I know this might be a shock to your system, but no matter what you think, you are not someone of that great importance; neither am I, and I certainly don’t expect ANYONE to not talk about what they watched.

What does someone’s view of their importance have to do with this topic? I’m not saying that any one person is so important that everyone around them has to bend to their will. What I am saying is that having DVRs and timeshifting shows is commonplace now and that social etiquette has to shift to accomodate this change in technology. Now, there’s obviously a continuum in terms of how long the timeshift is. You’d get laughed out of the room if you got mad because you told people not to talk about who shot JR. What’s the exact time period you have to give a spoiler alert? Who knows? But as more and more people timeshift, I think it will get longer and longer.

McBeese says:

It isn't just the delayed broadcast...

The delayed broadcast of prime olympic events (you can stream more curling than you’ll ever want) by NBC without any complementary live coverage is nuts. NBC Universal must host weekly ‘flat earth’ workshops to come up with new ways to piss people off and damage the NBC brand.

There are two other problems with the NBC coverage that should also be pointed out.

1. Not all of the events will fit in prime time along with a heavy commercial load, which means all of the coverage is shortened. We’re robbed of the excitment of watching the athletes compete and only get to watch the highlights. It’s like trying to get excited about a football game when only the touchdown’s and interceptions for the home team are televised. It really sucks.

2. Bob Costas. Could there be a more non-athletic host? Getting rid of Costas is enough reason to dump NBC all on it’s own.

My distaste for NBC Universal has reached an all time high.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It isn't just the delayed broadcast...

You actually can’t stream more curling than you’d ever want. You can’t watch complete events online unless you have a cable provider or satellite provider who has an agreement with NBC. If you either don’t have a TV, or watch broadcast TV, you can’t even pay for the right to watch full hockey games or more than 5 minute excerpts of events.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: It isn't just the delayed broadcast...

Actually, it appears you can’t watch any live streaming unless you have a cable/satellite provider who has an agreement with NBC AND you are subscribed to the higher end cable television services.

Being a college student, I can’t afford tv/phone/internet mega packages and recognize that with things like hulu and skype I can replace tv and phone by just getting the highest end internet connection. Its all just data that goes through the same wires anyway. But when I tried watching live olympic coverage, (for which I had to create a seperate account with Time Warner that basically seemed to just link back to my local account) I got an error message saying I was unauthorized to view the content. I hunted around and found a FAQ which informed me that unless I signed up for the expanded cable coverage that includes both MSNBC and CNBC, I would not be allowed to access the “premium Olympics content”.

In other words, I can’t watch the Olympics for free online unless I’ve already paid to watch the same limited content which appears to be playing at the same time on TV.

So, being a resourceful student, I just found ways around. A combination of proxy servers and p2p video networks have allowed me international coverage of the olympics, illegally giving me a much richer and more preferable experience than NBC is even giving me the option to pay for. I can pull up pretty much any event I want to watch live, which makes all the geographical boundary and content provider deals seem kind of moot.

MBraedley (profile) says:

Contrast with Canadian Coverage

With three full time English and one or two full time French broadcasters, along with a number of part time specialty broadcasters, showing mostly live coverage, Canadians can watch pretty much any event featuring a Canadian live on TV, and if they can’t do that, they can watch it live online. Yes, there’s a lot of fluff on CTV (Olympic Morning is basically four or five hours of fluff before the events start each day), but there’s a balance struck between live coverage, important highlights, and the human aspect (interviews with the athletes, short biopics, etc) that even CBC, who had done numerous Olympics before CTV was picked for this year, would be hard pressed to beat.

Compare this to NBC, where they aren’t showing any live coverage (as far as I can tell), are only streaming hockey and curling online (because no American will ever want to watch something online [/sarcasm]), and are already crowding out their Olympic coverage with other useless programming (an hour and a half or more of evening news each night, and I think I saw Oprah listed last night). Yes, CTV does show the news each night, but then you just switch over to TSN or SportsNet.

NBC needs to be showing the events live throughout the day, even if nobody’s watching, and then in the evening can show a compressed version consisting of Americans, top qualifiers, and medal favourites. You don’t need to show the full two qualifying runs of each boarder in the half pipe competition before showing the semis and finals, yet NBC seems to think that you do.

Suffice it to say that I’ll stick with the Canadian broadcasters, even if it means missing some events live, even if it means I have to stream it at work, even if I have to sit through delays due to weather, timing equipment, or spectators making sounds similar to the starter’s whistle.

Karl says:

Let NBC know

I urge people to let NBC know directly how they feel about the poor coverage of these Olympic Games. They still want to believe that complaints are coming from a tiny, vocal minority.

Here’s the viewer-response page for NBCOlympics.com: http://www.nbcolympics.com/contactus.html. And here is the e-mail address for NBC Universal in general: feedback@nbcuni.com.

vyvyan says:

How stupid of these people who are sending in such requests? I think while watching highlights/deferred live matches they will also pray to God, “Oh Lord! Let win.” when has already lost.
If NBC is not showing some match they will keep praying till 2014 for US to come on top in 2010 Defferlympics tally.

If Pfizer decides to sell common-sense pills, it will be a success even bigger than Viagra.

mjb5406 (profile) says:

Those Were the Good Old Days

I’m old enough to remember when ABC was the only network that ever covered the Olympics. Run by the sports coverage maven, Roone Arledge, and hosted by Jim McKay (whom Bob Costas can only dream of emulating), ABC NEVER time-delayed events… if the event occurred at 3AM, you watched it then. It wasn’t as if ABC couldn’t have tape-delayed the events… it’s just that they felt more of a responsibility to its viewers than to getting advertising revenue. ABC understood that the Olympics was a “now” event, and you never heard, for example, that Lindsey Vonn won the Gold a half a day before the NBC greedmongers decided to show the event. Talk about anticlimactic!

DaveM (user link) says:

Time Shifting

Time slots are very important and nothing else happens during non prime time.

The same is also true for late night television.

It is no different than late night talk – Leno/Conan.

The whole late night issue was about timing. That will be the last late night debacle over timing – another few years and the concept of live tv will be but a re-playable memory.

Randall Lind (profile) says:

The Summer Olympics was awesome

I expected the same treatment for Winter as they did for the Summer Olympics.

I had like 5 on demand channels so I could watch whatever sport I wanted.

Winter Olympics has none of that you get to see what is on NBC Networks same as they did in the summer but, without the on demand channels.

They brought the Summer Olympics in to the future but they just plain drop the ball on the Winter Olympics.

SW says:

NBC tit for tat on Delayed Brodcast

Since most of what NBC is broadcasting is already delayed I end up just recording it on my DVR and watching it later since it was already delayed in the first place. That also means when I do watch it a zip by all the commercials and all the worthless interviews with the talking heads. I just watch the events themselves and skip the rest. NBC’s advertisers should realize that the value of their advertising dollar is being seriously eroded by NBC delaying the broadcast because I’m sure many people are doing what I’m doing, and hence never see the ads. If the events were being broadcast in real time a lot more people would be actually seeing the ads.

Scott W.
Cincinnati, OH

Todd says:

I like to find out the results and then make wagers with unsuspecting people. I’ve made a fortune this way!

Seriously, though, I have no problem with them showing the big events in prime time. They’ve done it this way for a long time. I do think the news organizations reporting results should be aware of this and at least put a spoiler warning before revealing results.

I also think headlines such as USA wins gold in speed skating should be avoided. It’s just common sense.

MBraedley (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Realize that with Sydney and Beijing, they could broadcast primetime completely live because of the time zone differences. With Athens and Turin, you could show live coverage all through the night, because live Olympic coverage, regardless of the time of day, will bring in more than infomercials will, and then they could show a nice neat package of the days events during primetime. This in no way stopped the papers from printing gold medal winners on the front page, even if they only got the news 20 minutes before printing. Some editors in chief didn’t even know what would be on their front page in the morning.

sean says:

This is why I love living so close to the canadian border cause we can get CTV and TSN, which show the events live. And the ENTIRE event, not just the americans and a select few. 20 hours a day, 8am-4am, nonstop Olympic coverage. And for the most part commercial free, roughly 4 minutes of commercials every half hour.

Canadian stations do this for every Olympics. I don’t think anyone where I live watches NBC for the Olympics for this reason.

Anonymous Coward says:

NBC has definitely not come close to doing a perfect job airing the olympics but I think that delaying the airing of events and showing them during primetime isnt exactly a bad move.

Yes they should be showing more of the events sooner online but come on people, if you dont want to be spoiled then get your ass to the games and see them live. Quit bitchin about newspapers and blogs ruining it for you by doing them just doing their job

stephen says:

nbc is spoiling scores themselves

i only watch the olympics on line, especially curling. but what does nbc do? for one match i was going to watch, usa men v norway in curling, nbc noted the winner in the tab, something i couldn’t avoid with my usual shrinking of the browser. thanks. and it’s nearly impossible to get to the video replay menu without seeing winners blasted all over their pages. it’s like they think people are going to the replays to rewatch the events, not watch them for the first time

McBeese says:

Don't forget the local idiots

In my market, there are two local evening news shows from the local NBC affiliate before the NBC network news show. It starts at 4:00. Who knows why we need TWO local news shows in a row! That’s THREE newscasts in a row starting at 4:00pm.

Anyway, last night at 4:01, the local cheeseball anchor opens his broadcast with “Lindsey Vonn wins gold in Vancouver! More after the break.” This is BEFORE NBC has aired the event. *&%$!!!!!!! Stupid people should be sterilized so they can’t reproduce.

AnonCow says:

The whole issue is rather moot. By the next winter Olympics (if not by the next summer Olympics) the network broadcast of Olympics will be all but obsolete. Viewers will either watch it online or stream on a sport-by-sport basis live or pre-recorded to their televisions via STB or DVR. Watching a network Olympic broadcast at a fixed time in primetime will seem as outdated as listening to it on the radio…

The only issue is if the IOC is wise enough to see this coming and adjust their licensing and broadcast rights accordingly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Ummm…wrong. If that is the case, more than half the viewing audience will disappear. There are still TONS of people who never stream television on line (I have done it, but it is a pain – I would rather watch On-Demand or just have the show on) and massive amounts of people do not have DVR’s.

You are also wrong about the IOC. Their only concern is payment for the broadcasting rights. How extensively those rights are exploited is not currently their concern.

Anonymous Coward says:

NBC Stomped American Idol into the Ground

According to ratings from yesterday, NBC’s Olympics coverage stomped “American Idol” into the ground, the first time in six years that “American Idol” has not held the top ratings spot.

Either the shine is off “American Idol,” or a TON of people just want to watch the Olympics – or both.

normal person says:

stop whining

Who cares? You are all culprits of the self-pity in this world that makes me sick. It doesn’t matter if it get spoiled for you. No one cares. Especially me. NBC waits for primetime because that is when most people get home from work. I’m glad they wait fo PT so I can see the most important events. It’s smart business anyways, you morons. More people watching, more advertisements, more $.

The news websites do the same thing you idiots. By writing up-to-date articles they promote people checking out their site. Most advertisements on their pages literally pay by “click volume”. It’s about the money folks, not spoiling the downhill skiing.

Not to mention it’s the winter olympics. Get a life it’s so boring anyways. Besides hockey what is actually exciting? Nothing. You people are such losers

-normal person in society

MBraedley (profile) says:

Re: stop whining

The fact that NBC is loosing money on this Olympics (for the first time ever) is proof enough that they have not made smart business decisions. They are hemorrhaging viewers to Canadian proxy servers so they can watch CTV’s online coverage.

As for the exciting part, half-pipe, snowboard cross, ski cross, and moguls are all pretty exciting too.

Anonymous Coward says:

I remember watching the 1980 US-USSR hockey game on ABC where they refused to give away the result I guess to keep people watching. And it was probably the most highly-rated winter olympic event ever. After watching a tense, well-played game with the Soviets leading 3-2 after two periods, as the network came back from commercial the local station broke in with “US defeats USSR 4-3!” right before the crucial 3rd period was broadcast. the station got so many irate phone calls it blew up their phone system.

Jim says:

I actually like the way NBC does things. I hear everyone talk about wanting to watch events live but I have a question – do you folks have jobs? Because most people do. I’d love to stay home all day and watch the Olympics live but I have to be at work. And I don’t want to see “highlights” during prime time – I want to see the actual events, and as much of them as possible.

Sure I could DVR everything but that’d be a real pain – having to look up every event on the time table and set the DVR accordingly. I like that all the “main” events are shown during NBCs Prime Time coverage – between that and the late night, I get to see 95% of what I want to see. If I do need to miss it live, I only have to DVR two shows rather than trying to figure out a live Olympic schedule. Not to mention the fact that DVRing everything in HD isn’t much of an option anyway, hours of Olympic coverage takes up LOTS of space.

And I find it pretty easy to avoid seeing Olympic results. A big part of this is again, I am at work all day. Another thing is, most news outlets I follow do NOT post results on the front page. There is a link to “Olympic Results” but you have to consciously click it to see. Likewise, my radio station has a “spoiler warning” so you can turn down the volume if you don’t want to hear results.

There is no perfect option but *ultimately* I think FAR more people watch the Olympics with NBC’s current format than would if they showed it live in the middle of the day. Maybe a live streaming option would be a good ADDITIONAL choice, but for the TV broadcast, I actually like the current format (though I *do* wish they’d jump around less and show more of an event).

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So, let’s see…

1. You try to insult everybody who wants to watch live, implying that they’re lazy and don’t have jobs (ever hear of night shifts? Split shifts? Vacation time?)

2. You can’t be bothered to work out how to use your DVR efficiently, so you want everybody to conform to YOUR schedule instead.

3. Therefore, it’s OK for NBC to penalise everybody who does actually want to see the events live because it’s OK for you. Not to mention those people who are not even remotely interested in the Olympics but whose regular prime-time shows are presumably postponed so that you don’t get inconvenienced yourself.

Yeah, you’re the problem. Rather than allowing people to create their own schedules, they’re forced to follow whatever the status quo is. That’s fine, but NBC shouldn’t be surprised if they lose revenue to “piracy” or that their viewership drops…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Are you surprised then that not only has their viewership not dropped, but appears to be climbing?


Regardless of whether people are complaining, TONS of them are tuning into prime time coverage. NBC is not just winning in prime time, they are totally trashing the other networks and it seems as though their viewership is remaining solid, and has perhaps even climbed with no signs of abatement.

When you are the unqualified ratings king of broadcast and cable television, what is your motivation for change?

Anonymous Coward says:

NBC Telecast Shows a Company that Knows its Market

What a shock. While NBC’s ratings dipped a little on Friday, their ratins, on television, the internet and even on mobile phones, remain strong.


As NBC has said more than once, they believed their strongest market was in prime time, and their coverage is geared to their prime time customers. Yes, there have been a few complaints from technogeeks, particular those who avoid prime time television for whatever reason, but the vast majority of NBC’s audience seems to be happy.

Knowing your customer is always the best place to begin when planning product placement, and NBC’s ratings certainly seems to show that they know theirs. Well done NBC!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There are several anonymous cowards, so it may appear that “Anonymous Coward” is, as you call it, sheep or critic.

However, having said that, I fail to see anyone who is a “sheep,” within the generally accepted definition of “sheep.” There are critics of NBC, but there is also factual information indicating that NBC stomped the competition in the ratings.

One thing that critics fail to realize is that they may be in the minority, and that they may have little voice when it comes to the business plans of a company.

Depending on the product, most companies who attempt to sell in broad markets, rather than niche markets, follow an 80-20 kind of rule. If you can get 80% of the market, you are doing fantastic. Let the other guys go after the 20%, probably with much more work and far less volume.

In the case of NBC, they achieved the second highest ratings in Winter Olympic history, exceeding anything they even hoped for. NBC stomped the competition by a significant margin, with the exception of one television show.

The problem for you is, of course, that while you are unhappy with NBC, and perhaps tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people are unhappy with NBC, tens of millions of people were happy enough to keep watching NBC in prime time. What incentive for NBC to change when their audience is beyond massive?

Jesse Calderon says:

NBC's is adding value

I am a US citizen who is temporarily living in Canada. Living here I have an opportunity to watch live Canadian coverage of the events as well as the NBC delayed/edited coverage.

I will qualify my comments by stating up front that I like watching sports in real time to feel the drama. Knowing who won does spoil the event for me. I usually won’t watch a recorded football/baseball/basketball game if I inadvertently hear the outcome before I get to see it.

Having said that, I have to say that I find that NBC’s coverage to be better entertainment than the live Canadian coverage. NBC takes the time to edit the events, put them to music and mix in human interest stories.

While watching the events live on Canadian television is dramatic in the case of close races/events, I find that the NBC “entertainment” packaging of the events is often more compelling and engaging.

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