NBC is catching a lot of flak from viewers about its decision to show the highlights of the 2010 Winter Olympics during primetime rather than airing each competition event as it happens. NBC has also decided to drastically reduce the amount of live streaming available on its companion web site, NBC Olympics, compared to what was shown during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. According to Twitter Sentiment metrics, roughly 75 percent of the Twitter discussion regarding the 2010 Olympics is negative.
Ironically, drawing equal fire are the news outlets that are reporting the Olympics results in real time. The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have both had to defend themselves against reader complaints in recent days. Both newspapers maintain that readers’ grievances should be with NBC and not with organizations that are simply doing their job by reporting the news in real time.
NBC Nightly News is providing viewers with a spoiler alert before anchor Brian Williams reports the day’s results. Of course, they have a vested interest (read: advertising dollars) in keeping their viewers spoiler-free and wanting to watch the network’s primetime coverage instead. Individual NBC reporters, such as NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd, are not withholding information on their personal social media profiles, however. Todd’s report on Lindsey Vonn’s gold medal win in women’s downhill skiing via his Twitter account hours before NBC aired the footage was met with “a few hundred” angry replies. Todd told Matea Gold, television media reporter at the Los Angeles Times, that he will consider giving a spoiler alert for future Olympic tweets.
As online journalist Robert Niles tweeted:
Posting the results of a public event seen by millions around the world isn’t a ‘spoiler.’ It’s ‘news.’ You know, what journalists post.
And as reporter Dan Gillmor from Mediactive wrote:
The fact that the ombudsman of The New York Times needs to explain to readers why his newspaper reports actual news as it happens — and Olympic results are actual news — is a depressing commentary on our nation’s entertainment-driven culture.
Source: “Pressure Builds On NBC To Explain Why It’s Ruining The Olympics,” Forbes, 02/18/10
Source: “In Twitterverse, Olympics fans cringe at spoilers,” LATimes.com, 02/18/10
Source: “There are No ‘Spoilers’ in News,” Mediactive, 02/17/10
Source: “The Olympics? Don’t Tell Me,” NYTimes.com, 02/17/10
Source: “It’s not a spoiler, it’s news,” LATimes.com, 02/18/10
Image by Michael Francis McCarthy, used under its Creative Commons license.