Here is how my life is very similar to most other adult Americans:
- I work from around 9-6
- I check Twitter (or other social networks) from time to time throughout the day
- I watch TV from around 7-12 every night
- I am passively interested in the Olympics
So what has NBC done here to draw criticism? They tape delay events so that I and everyone else can watch them when we are willing and able to watch them, and edit them down to maximize what they can show. For those who are willing and able to watch these events live, they are streaming them all online for free. So far, this seems like a really good plan. I think NBC thought this through really well and maximized its utility.
So where does this go wrong? Not that NBC is stubborn or dated, quite the opposite. The problem is with point 2 above. It’s the fault of the power users and reporters we all love and follow for tweeting (and push notifying, ahem, NY Times) what they consider news. The masses are set in their ways, and NBC has been extremely accommodating. It’s the know-it-alls who report the news who are being rigid and inflexible in this instance. And naturally, they’re also the loudest voices blaming everyone else, and flipping the script on the evolving technology being the reason. That’s unfair.
Listen, The Olympics are a unique event that falls in between News and Entertainment. It’s a tricky slope, and one that is impossible to perfect because it happens so infrequently. But what is the benefit of reporting like this if you’re potentially alienating so many consumers? Few outlets, like the Breaking News Twitter/Tumblr, announce simply that there is a result with a link to the story. Great example of a smart service micro-evolving to adapt, and understanding how people consume their content.
God forbid, if there was a tragic injury or terrorist attack, this goes beyond results and is clearly news that should be reported as it happens. But scores and medals? Winners and losers? For a DVR culture that has become so sensitive to spoilers in the last 4 years, this seems like a major step back in reporting, and I’m shocked that the most forward thinking outlets are so slow to adapt.
Also, if you want to complain that NBC does a bad job analyzing and broadcasting the events, fine. The Today show promo gaffe was particularly bad, and the overall coverage of events is inconsistent. But what are you comparing it to? All sports broadcasts have major flaws. They all do. Should they take more cues from the pinnacle of modern reporting, Cable News? Or maybe the always informative Fox NFL broadcasts, with a bunch of chuckleheads laughing at themselves in a studio and Frank Caliendo doing his Bela Karolyi impersonation while predicting the next day’s results? What is the standard that we are holding this to? Our childhood memories which have zero basis in reality? Nothing is as good as we imagine it was. What we’ve got now is far better than anything ever, yet because there are far more things to complain about as well, it just sounds worse. It’s really not.
Anyway, settle down on the hate, NBC is doing fine. If you’re tweeting real-time results, you’re actually part of the problem by rigidly doing things the way you’ve always done them, rather than adapting to current the media landscape.