Did NBC fail in its Olympics coverage?

In today’s Times Union, Skidmore professor lays out a compelling argument that NBC’s U.S.-centric coverage of the Olympics failed to live up to the Games’ purpose of international good will.

Meanwhile, the closing ceremony being interrupted by a new NBC comedy, “Animal Practice,” which then was followed by a half-hour of local news, has made viewers in the Capital Region and beyond irate. This just seemed like another bad mark for NBC, which had people complaining about how it was handling taped delays for its prime-time broadcasts. But despite those complaints, NBC saw ratings increases.

What’s your take?

22 responses to “Did NBC fail in its Olympics coverage?”

  1. Quit over-thinking the room. NBC passed with flying colors for their coverage of the Olympic Games. The did their best to showcase a wide variety of the events among their different television channels within the NBC umbrella of networks.
    There were a couple of times NBC featured a commercial-free event at 11PM with Olympic coverage to follow. The ratings were up and very good throughout the games. That is the ultimate indication of their performance. To write that NBC failed its viewers is simply false. It’s not accurate. They provided great coverage and it showed in the ratings. They showed the highlights of the closing ceremonies just fine. It’s not like they missed the extinguishing of the Calderon or the athletes marching in or the speeches from the president of the IOC and the chairman of the London Games. They covered it all.
    Skidmore is an excellent school and our area is fortunate to have that type of school right in our backyard. But its a shame for a professor from that school to go off course with these false remarks.


  2. This year’s Olympics wasn’t about NBC so much as it was a giant media clusterf–k. Some networks wouldn’t give out live results until NBC aired them. Some would hide them under “spoiler alerts.” Some just reported them as they happened. And NBC for the most part did whatever they wanted in prime time. These Olympics were essentially social media vs. the old boys network. Twitter vs. NBC. The latter failed miserably in maintaining cohesion among the media masses by treating the games as if it were 1988 all over again. NBC failed to realize there’s more to media nowadays than just morning papers and 6pm news, and for the last three weeks have felt the backlash of such.


  3. I was annoyed with NBC’s Olympic games way before the closing ceremonies. I like many people work days and was only able to see the games at night. Every night, it seemed NBC broadcasted swimming, diving or volleyball. I don’t recall much else. It was a typical big American boisterous, over the top as usual broadcast.

    I was fortunate to see the games broadcast on Canada’s CTV and their broadcast was far superior.


  4. I never did figure out how to watch only the events I wanted–mainly gymnastics and diving. I don’t want to sit through other stuff and I couldn’t find a guide that gave specific times for specific events so that I could record them, and I never found the events I wanted on demand, so I just caught 1 diving event and a tennis match, but absolutely no gymnastics. Have to admit I have only a 1 hour window to watch–8-9PM, but where was on demand for everything? Like most things it seemed so much easier to view in the “old” days, but there were far fewer events. (That’s my geezer comment of the day, so be kind.) Glad it is over!


  5. Yes NBC fail big time from cover Open, during the games and the Closing Olympic……How can you ask Viewers to come back another hour to view the finale…remember NBC people need to get up next day to go to work too………….NBC please dont cover any more Olympic games


  6. All of NBC’s olympic coverage was questionable. Rather than properly report from all of a day’s competitions and finals we got to see blips from the athletes in their hometowns, what they do in their spare time, or how the Nazis bombed London. In the daily digest at night the finals in discus were not even covered, probably because no US athlete would medal. The entire coverage was very US centric, which is OK, but not when entire competitions are not even mentioned. Hammer throwing and rhythmic gymnastics were also absent at night. Would have been nice to sum up these competitions and show a 10 second blip from the award ceremony.
    But in the end it was the usual coverage. US stations are just inept when it comes to sports broadcasting…unless it is non-sports like baseball or football. And covering big events like the opening or closing ceremonies were never well done, regardless of tournament. Cutting the end off to show an hour of unrelated programming fits the moronic approach. At least NBC got a wee bit better with the commercial breaks, they no longer get thrown in during the key moments of a competition.
    I also never got what Ryan Seacrest or John McEnroe added to the coverage. The bits they did could have left out and nothing would have been missed. Don’t get me wrong, I like Seacrest as a host and McEnroe is an icon, but I always felt they just were there, because there was budget for a bunch of more folks to attend the games, do one or two things, and otherwise just have a good time.
    And why not start the daily digest at 6 and wrap up at 11? By that time all the events were over anyway and after that there is still time for stale news or monkeys.

    For the next Olympic Games NBC should buy the coverage of the BBC and show it as is, staying out of the production entirely.


  7. Philo T Farnsworth

    NBC failed with miserable colors! Understand this basic fact – the rest of the world was watching the Opening and Closing ceremonies LIVE except the great super power of the USA. What more do you need to think about. So, on Sunday afternoon, I’m watching the taped volleyball gold medal game when what’s really happening is the Closing Ceremony. NBC did bow to pressure to allow live streaming of the closing ceremony, and if you saw it, you know how great it was without NBC talking heads, especially Seacrest, ruining the event. Of course, watching it on my PC is not the same as watching it on the 50″ TV and you had to put up with a 15 second Coke add every 10 minutes. However, for NBC to pick and choose what to show in the Closing Ceremony is unforgivable. I’m hoping that technology advances to the point in 2014 that NBC “business model” aka money-grabbing tactics, fail miserably.


  8. NBC’s coverage in total was AWFUL!!!


  9. NBC is a network which is in deep trouble. The network program ratings prior to the Olympics have been sub-par. They need help for the fall lineup and some NBC media executive decided to create hype for a new show. My guess is NBC Universal turned off more viewers then watched the new animal show.

    Also, keep an eye on the TODAY show ratings with Matt and Savannah. ABC is going to make a big run when Robin Roberts returns. Lauer and team should be worried.


  10. Yes, NBC failed. The opening and closing ceremonies should have been shown in their entirety. I can’t believe that they didn’t show Ray Davies or Adele and that they bleeped Eric Idle. Also, that they interrupted the highlights show (can’t really refer to it the closing ceremony, can we?) to broadcast their new sitcom. I think we need a broadcaster that understands the media realities of the world of 2012.


  11. We watched commercial after commercial about the new abbynormal and other junky wherewolf shows coming to a channel near you. It reminded us why we stay away from TV in general. The olympic commercials were the same old over and over and tiring. A few with Morgan Freeman were neat, but most got old. We turned in at 11 when the stupid pet tricks show started, not worth waiting up for the who, a Led zeppelin reunion would have been epic. Overall the coverage was demographic based. Nike Coke McD’s GE over and over. The business model is flawed and not allowing you to pick and choose from an online internet events menu is missing the mark. We would have paid gladly for two weeks of live streaming and digitally recorded access to all events without going to a local cable provider. The rail rider camera coverage of the track and field events, plunge camera for diving and even stop motion for the gymnastics was considerate, the BMX camerawork really stunk though and bike industry corporate branding and commercials was zilch. Something was missing and even the closing ceremony only had a limited set of favored nations shown waving their flags, we didnt see the medal heavy Chinese athletes waving their nations flags, just Japan, Japan and Japan??


  12. Amen to Jeff #10 comments. Nice of them to haul George Michael out of the men’s room long enough to waste five minutes of my life that I want back, and I don’t know who Jizzie J is but hopefully her 15 minutes is over.

    NBS edits sports and entertainment like they do the news.


  13. The live feed of the Closing Ceremonies on Comcast did not work for me. Had relative appearing in the corps de ballet with the prima ballerina Phoenix segment which NBC edited out. I know she was just one in a crowd of 300, but. And who decided to edit out The Who in favor of supermodels?

    I read that the male dancer wearing orange in the Rio handover segment is famous. Would have been nice to know. Lots of obvious information but silence when we needed enlightenment.


  14. On a whole, this is first time I have been really disappointed with NBC’s coverage. Starting with the Opening Ceremony straight through to last nights Closing Ceremony, it seemed they were just off their mark. I have no problem with the tape delayed format, how else will be people be able to enjoy watching the events when they work during the day? That’s not the problem. The problem is showing the same 10 athletes over and over again. I was sick of Michael Phelps after the first day. Let’s see some other athletes and other countries. Doing those “Up Close and Personals” aren’t a bad thing, but once again, they featured the same people over and over again. How many different stories about Gabby Douglas or Michael Phelps or Misty-May Trainor and Kerry Walsh do we need to see to understand they are exceptional? What about the archers or the BMX racers? Synchronized swimming or equestrian anyone? I think the worst part of the broadcast was the Closing Ceremony; they streamed it live online, which was great, but then they edited the hell out of it before airing on network. What’s the reason? Just show the whole thing from start to finish and do not break away for an hour to show a preview of the newest flop television show.

    I think NBC has a lot of learning to do. We are in a different age, results do not matter as much as seeing how they got there. But show the whole story, don’t just jump to the end. My hope is that for Sochi in 2014 they will learn from their mistakes here and do a better job. One last thing; there was a time when the network broadcasting the games would show quirky things about the host city or nation. Go to where the crowds were gathering and watching events, to make the people at home feel like they were there. They stopped doing that and I think that does a great disservice to the broadcast.


  15. Watching the Summer Olymnics was so tape delayed, we are watching in the winter.

    As I read on the internet, “NBC: A 6 hour delay for an event 3500 miles away; NASA: 14 minute delay for an event 155,000,000 miles away”.


  16. The great? The events and athletes. The good? NBC expanded coverage this year. The annoying? Still a few too many lame slogan-choked, feel-good features that beat a story into the dirt. The unforgivable? Two words. Ryan Seacrest. AND NBC for shamelessly pimping a soon-to-be-euthanized pilot and giving short shrift to The Who, Ray Davies, Kate Bush and other Brits who put a fitting bow on the Olympics, unlike NBC.


  17. The coverage from NBC was horrible! The way they cut the Opening and Closing ceremonies, too many special features that had nothing to do with the Olympics, not showing any variety of sports and competitors but focusing on the same ones over and over. And the commentary was very bad. I wish we had a choice to watch elsewhere.


  18. Clayton Lloyd-Jones

    NBC is a very poor broadcaster of olympic events. I have the luxury of watching three different Canadian networks covering live events all around the city. The bigest problem I had was deciding which one to watch. Delayed telecasts are so biased that only the ones NBC want to cover are shown which means fewer international athletes and far too many american events.
    I’m sure they would have had a tough time if the Canadian women’s soccer team weren’t unjustly penalized on two occasions allowing team USA to win that game. How come the ref, who was standing right in front of the US player who had a deliberate hand ball in their penalty area, missed that call but could see the inadvertent touch by a Canadian player?
    How does a referee get influenced by a player telling her how long a goalie is holding the ball? Can’t the ref count? Can’t she warn the US player to keep her mouth shut? Not if NBC has anything to do with it.




  20. Algonquin J Calhoun

    NBC and Comcast. Three words that mean the worst companies in America, nay, the world. Bad coverage. Bad cable. Worst coverage of any event in the history of the world.
    I hope they both are grist for the mill of time. Bad people. Bad companies. Horrible human beings.


  21. @#1 Hmmm…I guess we can all guess who Mike works for >.>


  22. America has a choice. Which is most important in 2012? That one TV company makes huge profits? Or an entire nation has decent Olympic coverage.

    In the UK they had 24 channels of coverage.

    In the US, I hear business people lining up with simplistic thinking – well, the ratings were up, so NBC must have done good. Ratings can go up for a whole host of reasons and it’s not as if viewers could go elsewhere for their Olympics fix.

    NBC looks like a dinosaur. They worship their advertisers and spit on their viewers.

    Let’s hope things change.

    The Opening Ceremony was a wonderful, thoughtful production. But NBC didn’t give it a chance. They treated it with contempt.

    Life in this social media age is about respecting the individual not mindlessly bowing down to the corporate dollar.


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