The 2012 London XXX Olympic Games have ended with a flurry of pomp and circumstance and a party to end all parties. The Spice Girls reunited, George Michael stepped out of jail to make us swoon, and The Who serenaded the world. (Really – The Who was at the Closing Ceremonies, though you probably didn’t stay up late enough to see it if you live on the U.S. East Coast. More on that later.)
Every 2 years (or 2-1/2 and 1-1/2 if you want to get technical), we are treated with 16 days of serious-but-friendly sports competition that leaves us prouder of our nations and our athletes. Of course, the Olympics have been going on for centuries, but in the last few Games, social media has made watching them a much different experience. Back in the olden days of the 70s, 80s, and 90s when we were at the whim of the TV broadcasters to hand-feed us what they wanted us to see, we didn’t know what we were missing. There was no such thing as a “spoiler” unless you happened to have access to someone actually AT the Games or were directly in contact with the newswires.
But things have changed. The zeitgeist demands immediate information, and in return, provides immediate reactions. Twitter, the leader of the constant, immediate flow of information, is how most of us who are online receive our Breaking News. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account or have no idea what it is, people in your life are connected and have the information they’re telling you about.
NBC has the exclusive rights to show anything and everything related to the Olympic Games for the millions Americans watching, for which they paid and will earn billions of dollars. If you want to see any video about anything related to the Olympics in America, you’re forced to get it from NBC. We know that the ratings for the primetime airings of the sports were good, we can’t help but wonder if part of the reason people were watching was to see just how badly NBC failed at their coverage.
This year, I’m sure NBC felt they were doing us all a favor by airing competitions live-streaming on their website that they weren’t showing live on their (approximately) 137 channels of coverage. Unfortunately, NBC either didn’t count on or didn’t care that millions of us Americans would be looking to the actual television for their Smörgåsbord of coverage rather than be relegated to using our bandwidth to see live sporting events. Not only is forcing us to take to the live-streaming website cumbersome for the great majority of Olympics-watchers, but there are millions who don’t have the cable TV subscriptions necessary to watch the NBC live-streaming videos.
Even when you did go to the NBCOlympics.com website to see Michael Phelps win his eleveteen-hundredth gold medal like I did, we were treated with 24-point font headlines that gave away the winners to other events we were waiting to watch during the primetime tape-delay package on NBC.
We had to have known that the 16-day NBC coverage would have started out as a massive FAIL when they were live-tweeting the actual live Open Ceremonies from their @NBCOlympics account while all of America was left waiting 6 hours to watch what they were talking about.
Once they started airing the tape-delay Opening Ceremonies, Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, and Bob Costas talked over nearly everything happening on screen.
The day after the Opening Ceremonies aired, we found out that NBC aired a taped interview of Michael Phelps by Bob Costas instead of showing the a poignant tribute to terrorism victims.
In the tape-delayed primetime coverage of Missy Franklin’s historic swim, they “mistakenly” ran a commercial for the next day’s Today Show interview of Missy Franklin, letting viewers know that she had won the gold medal in the race they were going to air. (NBC later apologized for the error.)
NBC Gymnastics commentators referred to Jordyn Wieber as a “diva” when she showed emotion upon learning her scores did not qualify her for the all-around competition.
Commentators spent the broadcast as though we were watching in real time (which OK, fine, that is how you decided to do things) and then right before a routine started (gymnastics specifically) the commentator would tell us how the person did. -Daisy
The primetime broadcasts were overly shortened, so you only got to see the “star” or only the U.S. athletes. -Daisy
I personally missed the coverage of other countries. It’s like they only showed USA, with minimal international coverage. -Brittany
And it was so disconnected in the primetime. They skipped around before finishing an event, and showed interviews that didn’t relate to the sport they were showing. It just made no sense. -Brittany
NBC created a package video called Bodies in Motion of women athletes, focusing mainly on traditionally attractive participants with a large portion of the video focused on their backsides. The video was made “creepy” and “porny” with the choice of music sounding much like those used in porno movies. See the video on Jezebel.com.
The completely random history lessons in the middle of sporting events. We’re here to watch sports not the History Channel. -Katie
— mia farrow (@MiaFarrow) August 12, 2012
The first hour of Saturday night’s broadcast was a documentary-style package by Tom Brokaw, highlighting Britain’s role in WWII. While very educational and good to watch at some point in life, airing it during the primetime coverage of the Olympics had Twitter bashing NBC.
Why is it that every single time I turned on the Olympics, it was volleyball? Like, literally hours of volleyball. Volleyball heats. Indoor volleyball, beach volleyball, men’s, women’s. There are OTHER olympic sports, yes? -JennyGrace
Doing a special segment on the person who wins the gold of each event, BEFORE showing the even. So it’s like, okay, the guy they did the life story on, he WINS. -JennyGrace
The Today Show coverage was a joke, and the way they mocked the Olympic speed walkers with a segment was embarrassing. -Brittany
We could find dozens of other NBCFail examples, but the one freshest in everyone’s mind took place last night during the Closing Ceremonies. After waiting the ubiquitous 5 hours to watch the Closing Ceremonies, we were shown a chopped up version of the event, voiced-over by Ryan Seacrest.
— NBCOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 13, 2012
At what we thought was the end of the broadcast, he announced that NBC was cutting away from the ceremonies to show a preview of a new show, Animal Practice. So at 11:00pm EST, instead of showing two of the greatest rock bands to ever come out of England, The Who and Muse (who, by the way, were completely cut out of the broadcast), Americans were “invited” to stay up and watch a preview of the new show.
— Salon.com (@Salon) August 13, 2012
What did NBC get out of this final nail in the #NBCFail coffin? Animal Practice is already the most hated show on TV.
Angie Lynch is the founder and managing editor of the powerhouse women’s literary community, Smut Book Club. She is a Native Floridian without a tan, probably because she spends her days hard at work on the magical internet. For the past several years, Angie has worked way too hard at building clout as an influencer in food and margaritas as well as being a source for laughable pop culture commentary. You can read more from Angie on her blog, A Whole Lot of Nothing.
original image credit NBC