NBC Insists Twitter Is Useless Because Not Enough People Tweeted During The Olympics... Which NBC Made Difficult To Watch Online

from the maybe-rethink-your-position dept

People are jumping on a story in the Financial Times, in which NBC Universal's research chief, Alan Wurtzel totally trashes Twitter for not being particularly important to television viewing. The basic claim about the relationship between Twitter and television may, in fact, be true, but the reasoning that Wurtzel presents for his conclusions makes no sense at all. In fact, it raises questions about what kind of "research" NBC Universal actually does.
NBCU had expected social media to have a dominating effect on viewership for the Games. However, during the 18-day period of coverage, just 19 per cent of Olympic viewers posted about the games on social media, the broadcaster found.
Frankly, that seems somewhat high to me. Part of the issue is that Wurtzel seems to think that everyone watching the Olympics and using social media would or should then express that fact to the public. That's bizarre. Plenty of people use social media not to speak out directly, but to pay attention to what their friends and family are doing. This is the same sort of debate that internet-native folks have had for years about participants in online communities vs "lurkers." But lurkers have tremendous value as well, even if they don't participate. Frankly, a 19% participation rate in an online community is massive. It's amazing that NBC Universal seems to think this is a bad thing.
“I am saying the emperor wears no clothes. It is what it is. These are the numbers.”
There are three totally empty statements there, none of which have anything to say.

But, you know, something else that might have had a big impact on this? The fact that NBC Universal has a very long history of making it extraordinarily difficult to actually watch the Olympics that people want to see online (you know, at the time when they're most likely to be connected to social media). Combined with its continued demented decision to make it nearly impossible to watch any of the hot events live and you've basically wiped out many of the big reasons why people might be on social media talking about things. The whole thing was constructed around a typical TV "broadcast" mentality. Is it any wonder that it didn't really resonate with people on social media?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Ninja (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 11:18am

    They must love those people that tweet about everything, including but not limited to their pooping habits.

    Ahem.

    It is what it is. These are the numbers.

    Yes, maybe if they collect statistics about whether people like to be forced to watch delayed "live" events they'll see a different picture.

     

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    Violynne (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 11:20am

    The people didn't tweet their experiences because NBC would have sued their asses off for copyright infringement.

     

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      Rikuo (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 11:23am

      Re:

      That, and the fact the Russians were snooping on everything online during the games would have put a big damper on anyone wanting to tweet.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 1:33pm

      Re:

      I wonder how many people's tweets about the Olympics were DMCA'd for containing the word Olympics and if those were counted as part of this "statistic".

       

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      scotts13 (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 1:47pm

      Re:

      "The people didn't tweet their experiences because NBC would have sued their asses off for copyright infringement."

      That's why they're complaining. They were counting on the settlement revenue.

       

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      PRMan, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 9:13am

      Re:

      Nah. It was because we were all watching on CBC and BBC online and tweeting about them, eh? Brilliant!

       

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    Trevor, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 1:10pm

    Um

    You'd think a network that has a history of low numbers in proportion to a total group would have a better understanding of what 19% really is.

    Their BEST rated show only got a 7.4 Nielsen ranking last week.

    According to their logic, The Voice should be cancelled because "I am saying the emperor wears no clothes. It is what it is. These are the numbers."

     

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      Dr. Gregory House (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:20pm

      Re: Um

      In other news Twitter Insists NBC Is Useless Because Not Enough People Tweeted During The Olympics... Which NBC Made Difficult To Watch Online...

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 1:16pm

    I am saying curling is boring to watch. It is what it is. The numbers don't agree: if all you show is curling, it becomes the most watched Olympic game.

     

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      Poetic Stanziel, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 2:25pm

      Re:

      Curling is ridiculously popular in Canada. Networks here have expanded curling coverage due to its popularity. Ten years ago there were three broadcast curling competitions the Brier, the Tournament of Hearts and the World Championships. Now, there is a top-level curling competition broadcast every other weekend throughout the late fall to early spring.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 5:09am

        Re: Re:

        I know, I know. I knew I'd offend someone and I don't blame you one bit: I have lots of friends who enjoy curling, and they give me grief when I say it's boring ;) Me saying that curling is boring is just as true as NBCU saying Twitter is useless. The numbers agree.

         

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          John Fenderson (profile), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 8:08am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Curling is the only Olympic sport I actually enjoy watching.

           

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          Blue Sweater (profile), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 8:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Give it a try this fall. Most clubs have a grace period of a few weeks to allow new curlers to give it a try without having to join and pay dues.

          Honestly it was the only sport I watched during the Olympics and being Canadian I'm sure admitting that has probably broken some law that the Hockey cartel has gotten on the books.

           

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    DB (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 1:32pm

    I take this as 'We don't control it or profit from it, so we are trying to downplay its importance.'

    Remember, they are in competition with social networking sites for customers. No, not viewers. That's the product. Real, paying customers -- advertisers.

     

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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 1:34pm

    WOW! The reason we should believe NBC is because .... why? The fact that NBC and other networks routinely send DMCA notices to all kinds of websites preventing tweeting, posting on Facebook, uploading to Youtube and because their DMCA campaign works so well and nobody posts about NBC on websites that they now say that social media is useless?

    WOW!

    That's like a grocery store saying their competitors have a monopoly because their competitors have more stores than they do.

    LOLS

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 1:39pm

    Quick, let's all tweet foursquare status of their headquarters. Who's gonna be mayor first?

     

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    zip, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 1:42pm

    Old Media vs. New Media

    Was there ever a time when the Old Media did not belittle (rather than embrace) the New Media? I can't think of any, going back to the beginnings of radio and film -- which many "establishment" people insisted would be a passing fad.

     

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    GMacGuffin (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 1:43pm

    Indeed ...

    19%? That's crazy good. I am consistently surprised at how many people I know who do not use Twitter at all. They don't get it.

    Live Tweeting during TV events is great interactive fun. Like baseball games and Archer when it's first airing. But the Olympics was showing stuff that had already happened. What's the point of live tweeting about that? That's like live tweeting to a rerun of an Astros game, or Bewitched. Who freaking cares?

    Twitter ain't Facebook. It's a more specific group of users and largely about immediacy. So sure it's important to TV viewing, to the right group, in the right circumstances -- like something happening right now for the first time. (I dunno, that NBC guy just set me off.)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 1:46pm

    NBCU had expected social media to have a dominating effect on viewership for the Games. However, during the 18-day period of coverage, just 19 per cent of Olympic viewers posted about the games on social media, the broadcaster found.

    The should have planned to have their coverage be the dominating factor. Hilarious!

     

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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 1:46pm

    Does anyone even care about the Olympics anymore? IMO they lost all legitimacy a few years back when they held the Games--which are supposed to be a celebration of the dignity of mankind and the nobility of the human spirit--in China.

     

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      PRMan, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 9:20am

      Re:

      But awarding the games to China helped improve their human rights greatly.

      For instance, China no longer hunts down and imprisons Christians. In fact, right now China is the fastest growing Christian nation.

      So, big changes in freedoms.

       

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        John Fenderson (profile), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 10:10am

        Re: Re:

        That wasn't due to the Olympics, though. Christianity started really booming in China in the late '70s. The currently favored hypothesis is that it is a side-effect of the economic reforms they enacted at that time.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 1:52pm

    The emperor wears no clothes indeed.

    By that, of course, I mean Wurtzel should quit running around naked, he's scaring people.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 1:53pm

    Here's the real question....

    Who gives a crap about the Olympics? Are they still relevant to today's world at all?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 1:59pm

      Re: Here's the real question....

      Yes, in that if you mention them in the wrong context without EXPRESS WRITTEN PERMISSION etc etc you will get sued by the psychopaths comprising the IOC.

       

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    Chris-Mouse (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 2:00pm

    Twitter insists that NBC is useless, so I guess the feeling is mutual.

     

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    Poetic Stanziel, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 2:22pm

    Social Media Enabled People To Get Results Before NBC Broadcasts

    If anything, social media probably kept people from watching the NBC broadcast of the Olympics, because people knew the results before NBC aired them.

     

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    Km, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 2:55pm

    I've watched more live television in the last few years solely because of twitter. This is particularly true with special event programing. The only reason to watch any awards ceremony is to mock it on twitter. I'm kind of baffled at the dismissive attitude toward this shared experience that gets people to willingly subject themselves to advertising.

     

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      myperbole (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 4:09pm

      Re:

      Mocking things like awards shows sounds fun, but I don't really have the energy or wit to participate... I'll just keep waiting for Mystery Science Twitter 3000.

       

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    Keroberos (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:07pm

    I think this so-called "research chief" needs to show some actual research. Making a statement that only 19% of viewers posted to social media is bad needs some numbers--and you know, some actual research--to back it up.

    What percentage were they expecting (or hoping) would use social media? Where's the research showing that it would be valid to believe that?

    Why do they believe that 19% is a bad number? Do they have research on other events that show that number could be higher?

    Honestly, this is an area that any "research" is mostly just vague guessing--to many variables, nothing to compare against, and no ability to repeat any experiments with identical variables.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:22pm

    Wait wasn't this the year that social media blew up because of the Sochi debacle?
    How can they seriously claim that people weren't tweeting about the Olympics? Unless the weren't counting the mocking tweets.

     

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    vegetaman (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 5:22pm

    Of course I didn't tweet during the olympics. I work for a living! I watched what few highlights they had of curling on in the evening (because I couldn't get the full games like I wanted), and that was it. It's your own fucking fault NBC. It's not like people haven't been telling you this. I also don't tweet every time I have a bowel movement or eat a scone, nor every time I watch some mundane television program.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 5:50pm

    I doubt the largest percentage flew to Russia just to watch the games. So what's left? NBCs idea of getting rich off viewers?

    TV has been losing it's importance if you haven't noticed. It's now all cell phone and the internet. Of course if you are blocking shows so the internet can't see it without an act of congress, guess who isn't watching your show? Guess who isn't commenting on the same if not watching it?

    The idea that the Olympics now have people running around taping up the makers of bathroom fixtures because they don't pay the committee is an idea of just how far this idiocy has gone in the direction of everyone must pay. I no longer watch the Olympics as over the long haul of it being ever more difficult to see, just means I lost the connection to it and the desire to see anything about it. So I dang sure am not going to comment about something I don't care about on Twitter.

    Get over yourself. You've nothing to puff your chest out about dealing with NBC. Crying in your jello isn't going to bring in people, it just makes you look spoiled and looking for someone else to blame for your failures.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 11:51pm

    Perhaps if they had made the games available when consumers wanted them and how they wanted them they might have talked about it more.

    On the upside no way that 19% includes tweets about Costas eye.

     

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    Fushta (profile), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 7:42am

    Watched Olympics / Didn't Tweet

    -Watched Olympics
    -Didn't Tweet about it
    -I am the 81%

     

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