… is perhaps best illustrated by this clip of the network providing a spoiler for its own coverage of American swimmer Missy Franklin's dramatic race:
Millennials are in open revolt over NBC's tight control over its coverage, especially the long delays between the events occuring in the UK and their airing on American TVs:
At the centre of controversy was NBC's attempt to leverage maximum revenue from the Games, for which they paid almost a billion dollars, by foregoing live coverage of high-profile events. Instead, it intends to footage on time-delay during evening prime time, when brands will pay a premium to advertise. The tactic may very well be the most lucrative for NBC, but it's the least satisfactory for viewers, and seems to blithely ignore the advent of the internet era. It meant, for example, that Saturday's titanic swimming clash between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte wasn't broadcast in the USA until several hours after it took place. Adding insult to injury, NBC had already announced the result on its own evening news bulletin.
And the time delays are creating all sorts of spoilers via social media:
What's different in these Games isn't the time-shifting itself; it's that time-shifted coverage is no longer the only coverage available to us. "Real time" is now a default option in a way that it wasn't back in 1996 — or even, given the rise of Internet connections, in 2008 or 2010. That London 2012 is the first real "Social Media Olympics" is a cliché because it's true:
We consumers are experiencing these Games not just on our couches, but in our cars and in our offices and in our city buses and in our neighborhood Applebee's and in any other locations we choose, because the point of our connected mobile devices and the point of the Internet overall is the utility of omnipresent access. We're experiencing the Games not — or not merely — as a media event, but as a social event. And we're experiencing them, crucially, not just as entertainment, but as information.
Forcing viewers to subscribe to cable TV can be compared to forcing an entire nation of viewers to give CPR to a corpse. A growing movement of "cord-cutters" in the US have chosen to dispense with the empty and expensive wasteland of cable programming, instead opting for more bespoke TV viewing by downloading TV shows and movies from iTunes, Netflix and Hulu. These cord-cutters are not just teenagers or cranks. With the American economy weak and households buried under debt, many Americans have economized by cutting out their cable subscriptions. The trend has accelerated in 2011, when about 1 million viewers cancelled their cable or satellite TV service, and another million are expected to cancel this year…
Naturally, most of the criticism of NBC's coverage is being aired via Twitter:
BREAKING: Jesse Owens wins gold in 100m sprint #NBCFail
— NBC Delayed (@NBCDelayed) July 29, 2012
Good grief. The montages. The profiles. The feel-good music. The inspiration. GET TO THE SPORTS. #NBCFail
— Jessica (@vdaze) August 1, 2012
Most striking difference b/t swimming on BBC and NBC – BBC: Race, race, race, race, race, ads. NBC: Race, ads, race, ads, race, ads…
— Mark Coddington (@markcoddington) July 30, 2012
Ryan Lochte could cure cancer during a race & NBC would air it 6 hours later with the cure portion removed for a Seacrest interview #NBCFail
— NOT SportsCenter (@NOTSportsCenter) July 29, 2012
— karen smitty (@karensmitty) August 1, 2012
Confirmed: The NBC-critical Independent journo Guy Adams’ Twitter was suspended because NBC Sports filed a complaint against him. #NBCFail
— Gary Whitta (@garywhitta) July 30, 2012
— KimJongNumberUn (@KimJongNumberUn) July 31, 2012
But NBC could get the last laugh: its ratings are on track to break records for Olympic coverage.