NBC and IOC Get An “F” In Social Media Skills

I am not sure what NBC and the International Olympics Committee were thinking this weekend, but many high profile, online digital writers kept posting stories about how aggravated they were with the TV broadcast time delay from London. Mashable and Tech Crunch, considered to be the Bibles of the digital world, were among the first to write editorials on what they considered to be a major communications faux paux.

The main complaint being, Twitter and Facebook users from Europe were posting up-to-the-minute news from the ground or from their TV sets — Americans were watching outdated TV information about competitions that already took place. One prime example was Ryan Seacrest’s interview with Michael Phelps about how prepared he was for the first swim competition. He had already lost!

Members of the media felt NBC delayed their broadcast so that their advertisers would get the biggest audiences in the evening. The Internet marketing gurus felt they should have broadcast the Olympics live, then replayed it again in the evening for the prime time crowd.

Another insult to the digital world was the Olympic videos posted to the YouTube site by spectators at the live events for everyone in other time zones to see. Many blog sites and newspapers picked up those videos for their own use (a common and acceptable practice) only to find out minutes later that they were gone and replaced by the following message,“This video contains content from the International Olympic Committee, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”

Tech Crunch reported “While most of the rest of the world — or at least Europe — was watching the ceremony live, U.S. audiences were held hostage by NBC, which holds the rights to the games here. Rather than broadcasting the biggest event of the Games live as it happened, NBC decided it would air the ceremony on a tape delay, to capture a larger overall audience.”

Tech Crunch also pointed out that there is nothing new about tape delays, however, “they do seem archaic at a time when online video and social media bring an air of immediacy to live events. The existence of the NBC Olympics Twitter account is evidence of this, but the account seems totally misused in this case: NBC live tweeted the whole ceremony, with no apparent sense of irony around the fact that its target audience couldn’t actually watch the events it was describing. Instead of building excitement around the ceremony, and engaging with its viewers, all NBC ended up doing was frustrating its audience —the people who care most about watching the thing.”

A Mashable Op-Ed piece said, “NBC and the IOC’s attempt to control the flow of content and information failed almost immediately as participants and audience members started tweeting and Instagramming and, worse yet, at least one website started streaming pristine video live from the event.” Here’s what really galls me. A major portion of the opening ceremony festivities was devoted to a tribute for the Internet and social networking. It was all about how the Internet connects us and lets us communicate, how social media influences our lives. To illustrate, the IOC used the charming story of a young couple meeting and then using a variety of digital and social media to stay connected. The IOC hammered home the message by featuring — Tim Berners-Lee. The father of the Internet.”

Amazing how all of the big guns, especially the social media department at NBC, couldn’t or wouldn’t predict this snafu. As Tech Crunch says in their headline, “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”