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.

Filed Under: coverage, delays, olympics, real-time
Companies: nbc universal


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  1. icon
    Hulser (profile), 18 Feb 2010 @ 12:27pm

    Re: 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?

    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.

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