Skip to main content

Is it really #NBCfail?

By Ed Bark, Special to CNN
updated 11:57 AM EDT, Tue July 31, 2012
U.S. swimmer Allison Schmitt competes in the women's 200-meter freestyle final on Day 4 of the London Olympics on Tuesday, July 31. Check out <strong><a href='http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/30/worldsport/gallery/olympics-day-three/'>Day 3 of competition</a></strong> from Monday, July 30. The Games ran through August 12. U.S. swimmer Allison Schmitt competes in the women's 200-meter freestyle final on Day 4 of the London Olympics on Tuesday, July 31. Check out Day 3 of competition from Monday, July 30. The Games ran through August 12.
HIDE CAPTION
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
Day 4: The best photos of the Olympics
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100
101
102
103
104
105
106
107
108
109
110
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124
125
126
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ed Bark: NBC has record Olympics ratings, but getting slammed for time-delay
  • He says Twitterers grouse that they want the big events live, not on nightly show
  • He says what's the problem? The Web live feed works and shows few commercials
  • Bark: NBC set to lose money on Olympics; why would it steal from prime time to satisfy some?

Editor's note: Ed Bark, former longtime TV critic of The Dallas Morning News, blogs about TV at the website unclebarky.com.

(CNN) -- It's not easy being NBC, which is touting record ratings for its first three doses of prime-time Summer Olympics coverage while at the same time getting hammered in some quarters for its time-delayed approach.

The ever-cranky "blogosphere" is aflame like the Olympic torch with denunciations of the network for not airing some of the marquee events live on TV screens, instead packaging them for the nightly Big Show from London anchored by Bob Costas.

There's even a #nbcfail Twitter hashtag available for those who want to vent their fury -- or merely twit NBC. Says one aggrieved tweeter, "Ryan Lochte could cure cancer during a race & NBC would air it 6 hours later with the cure portion removed for a Seacrest interview." (That's a reference to NBC's far less defensible decision to omit an Opening Ceremonies tribute to the 52 victims of a 2005 terrorist bombing in London. NBC instead filled the time with a taped Ryan Seacrest interview of U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps; the network lamely explained, "Our program is tailored for the U.S. television audience.")

I think NBC is getting unfairly eviscerated though, for taking the same prime-time approach of every U.S. Olympic network over the years. The Peacock network also has trumpeted the fact that all the major events packaged for prime-time TV are available earlier live on nbcolympics.com, where the Men's Gymnastics Team Final is in progress as this is being written.

Ed Bark
Ed Bark

This just in: Your Games of choice: live or taped?

Yes, it sometimes takes 30 seconds or so for the live feed to load up. There also have reportedly been some glitches, as might well be expected. But on my at-times balky old 2006 iMac desktop, nbcolympics.com has been working just fine. The Web coverage is in high-definition, can be viewed full-screen and has far shorter commercial breaks than you'll have to endure during NBC's prime-time TV presentation. So really, what's the big deal?

Get Real! NBC spoils Franklin victory
Missy Franklin: Olympic swimming star
Rhode: Shooting as a sport a 'tradition'
Jordan's female boxers fight hijab ban

Well, we now live in the full-blown age of Twitter, which was still pretty much in diapers during the 2008 Summer Games from Beijing. Information is disseminated at breakneck speed, and tweeters don't want to wait even extra seconds for it. Period.

Opinion: Olympics teach about being green

Jeff Jarvis, the terminally dissatisfied proprietor of the BuzzMachine blog, says that "we in the U.S. are being robbed of the opportunity to share a common experience with the world in a way that was never before possible."

Really? How so? Those who want every last ounce of up-to-the-second Olympics information can avail themselves of nbcolympics.com. Or scour the Internet for the latest competition results. Why is it necessary to see all of it on an old-school television screen? That's so -- 2008.

There's this, too. NBC and the other "Networks of NBC Universal" are on track to lose money on the Olympics, despite taking in more than $1 billion in advertising revenue. The company has readily acknowledged this. So can Comcast-owned NBC Universal really be expected to even further jeopardize its prime-time ratings by showing all of the most talked-about competitions earlier in the day on the NBC mother ship (or the NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, Bravo, etc.)? Somebody's got to pay for this coverage, and the sprawling blogosphere doesn't look all that ready to sponsor a telethon for NBC Universal.

Opinion: Cheating is as old as the ancient Olympics

Four years ago, the 12-hour time difference between New York and Beijing enabled NBC to show some major events live in prime-time by persuading Olympic officials to begin them in relatively early morning hours. Some of the athletes complained, leading to criticism of NBC for strong-arming the sainted Olympics into a made-for-TV event.

The time difference is just five hours this time, making it basically impossible for NBC to air anything live in prime-time unless it somehow had persuaded the International Olympic Committee to have Lochte and Phelps jump live into the pool sometime after 1 a.m. London time. Imagine the outcry.

News: Fans asked to tweet from Olympics only if it's 'urgent'

Record ratings so far for NBC's prime-time coverage suggest that a lot of viewers are more than content to sit back on their living room couches and watch the "traditional" time-delayed presentation. No doubt a good percentage of them, myself included, try not to know who won ahead of time. It's always been more fun that way. Hasn't it?

In a perfect world, NBC would have the option of going live throughout its prime-time coverage. Any network, and viewers as well, certainly would prefer it this way.

But nothing's perfect, with instant gratification and/or instantaneous complaining ingrained as never before. So NBC will continue to take a severe beating from some no matter how well it does in prime-time. It's the way of the world -- and all the more so on a highly wired world stage.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ed Bark.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
As a woman whose parents had cancer, I have quite a few things to say about dying with dignity.
updated 9:04 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
David Gergen says he'll have a special eye on a few particular races in Tuesday's midterms that may tell us about our long-term future.
updated 10:52 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
What's behind the uptick in clown sightings? And why the fascination with them? It could be about the economy.
updated 9:01 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
Midterm elections don't usually have the same excitement as presidential elections. That should change, writes Sally Kohn.
updated 11:39 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mike Downey says the Giants and the Royals both lived through long title droughts. What teams are waiting for a win?
updated 2:32 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says if a man wants to talk to a woman on the street, he should follow 3 basic rules.
updated 5:03 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say more terrorism plots are disrupted by families than by NSA surveillance.
updated 5:25 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Time magazine has clearly kicked up a hornet's nest with its downright insulting cover headlined "Rotten Apples," says Donna Brazile.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Leroy Chiao says the failure of the launch is painful but won't stop the trend toward commercializing space.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Timothy Stanley: Though Jeb Bush has something to offer, another Bush-Clinton race would be a step backward.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Errol Louis says forced to choose between narrow political advantage and the public good, the governors showed they are willing to take the easy way out over Ebola.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Eric Liu says with our family and friends and neighbors, each one of us must decide what kind of civilization we expect in the United States. It's our responsibility to set tone and standards, with our laws and norms
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Sally Kohn says the UNC report highlights how some colleges exploit student athletes while offering little in return
updated 3:04 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Terrorists don't represent Islam, but Muslims must step up efforts to counter some of the bigotry within the world of Islam, says Fareed Zakaria
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Scott Yates says extending Daylight Saving Time could save energy, reduce heart attacks and get you more sleep
updated 8:32 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Reza Aslan says the interplay between beliefs and actions is a lot more complicated than critics of Islam portray
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT