NBC Olympic Coverage Both Win And Fail

Why NBC has scored big on the Olympics while also losing a ton of something else.

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

Success can be measured easily in television, just add up the number of people watching your show. If you have a lot of people watching, then it makes advertisers happy and willing to fork over big bucks to get their product on the screen. For NBC, and their current Olympic strategy, the early numbers are in, and they are record breaking.

The Summer Olympics opening ceremony, which aired Friday night from 8 pm to midnight, delivered 40.7 million total viewers, up 17 percent when compared to the number of viewers that watched the same ceremony with the Beijing Olympics four years ago. It also broke the 1996 Atlanta Games' 39.8 million record.

Saturday, the first full day of Olympic coverage, gathered 28.7 million, breaking records also and proving that sports programming is where it's at these days.

Well, with one exception; NBC isn't airing the Olympics live.

Unlike the Super Bowl, which now routinely takes the number one spot for telecasts, and other NFL games which dominate their respective weeks, the Olympics are airing almost entirely via tape delay, bucking the trend of live broadcast that big-time sporting events have followed in attaining their TV success.

This strategy that NBC is deploying, in catering to their primetime audience with the hottest action of the day, may be a success ratings wise but it is angering a large number of people who want their sports fix as nature intended it to be…live.

"In this day and age, no livestream for the Olympics opening ceremony?" asked @jjwright on Twitter in a gripe typical of those being heard on Friday afternoon. "You just can't handle situations right, can you #NBC? Curry, now this."

This complaint is just a small example of numerous ones that NBC has received over the weekend in complaint to their tape delayed tactic. NBC, however, is using the scoreboard method of rebuttal, citing its numbers and marking their strategy a success.

"This audience number for the London opening ceremony is a great early sign that our strategy of driving people to watch NBC in prime time is working," NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus wrote in a statement.

While the numbers are the bottom line in television, people have a right to be angry over not seeing the events live, especially considering how accessible technology makes things like this nowadays.

Hopefully, for sports fans across the globe, this experiment in tape delay sports does not become the norm as it would take away much of the joy away from watching sporting events. Oh, and for those of you who are not fans of tape delay, here are some numbers that might cheer you up. NBC paid $1.3 billion in TV rights to cover the Olympics, and despite the high ratings so far, they are expected to lose up to $100 million when it's all said and done.

You can't tape delay that type of loss.

James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.

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