Monday, 13 August 2012


NBC achieved a 31.1 million average primetime viewership for its coverage of the Olympics. The best for non-U.S. Summer Olympics in 36 Years. This number tops Beijing by 12% and Athens by 25%.

If like me you were pissed off trying to watch live the most exciting parts of the Olympics in the US, you might be stunned at this number, but also perhaps grudgingly respectful at this media sleight of hand. The hashtag #NBCFail exploded across Twitter.  Influencers across social media screamed out their disapproval to anyone listening. Check out some of the tweets here on #NBCFail.

NBC's TV strategy was simple, broadcast the 'tier 2' sports during the day live, and then rebroadcast during primetime the 'tier 1' events, when they could accumulate the most profitable advertising spend. If you really wanted to watch live events, and you had a cable subscription you could live stream it over the net. Few people were happy with this solution, including me. I got pissed off, others got even more pissed off.

You'll see below a timeline of the tweets, showing social media anger throughout the Olympics, topped and tailed by criticism of broadcasting of the opening and closing ceremony.

This starts to show two things for me:
- The social media audience is influential, but only amongst the social media audience. There are broken links in the social maps that connect society through social media. Not everybody can yet be reached and influenced through social media. And even when they are reached, it's not clear how influential that is.

- Winning in ratings isn't always winning. Their strategy was so transparently manipulative that it has damaged their brand.  NBC rightly believed that if you have the content that people want, however pissed off they get, they'll still tune in and watch. Like me, people were pissed off with the time delay, and the fact you already knew the result before you watched, but you still just obediently tuned-in and watched   NBC won, but it was a pyrrhic victory, that has left a lot of people very unhappy with them.  But perhaps this is what it now takes to make money in these tough time for content owners.


Tyler Turnbull said...

Great post, Tony.

Tony Effik said...

Good to hear from you Ty. Hope Toronto is treating you well.

Ville said...

The polar opposite to BBC then - they nailed it. Two channels devoted to live stream, but programming was obviously chosen according to TeamGB potential. But for everyone else, there was a intuitively built online BBC-iPlayer-based streamer where you could select individual sports as well as jump to the 'chapter' (event) you wanted to watch.

Well done BBC, well done.

Anonymous said...

Great post always. Incredible timing too that NBC are not showing the greatest Paraolympics on earth too....apparently they plan to do a 90 minute show once it's all over....

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The ny social media marketing is indeed one of the factors why NBC got that number of viewership. No matter how we wanted to watch Olympics live, we would always tune to networking sites to know earlier updates than watching threads of NBC's commercials.

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