NBCOlympics.com | Brand Experience Project | Missing The Mark #8

by Jamie Sanford on August 14, 2016

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I am a massive fan of the Olympic games. I get so excited to watch all sorts of sports – everything from shot put to archery and my favorite, gymnastics. Unfortunately, the television coverage in the United States for the Rio games has been plagued with issues. There’s the well-covered sexism, which is frustrating, but I am not covering that here (at least not in detail). My major issue is currently with NBCOlympics.com.

NBC has exclusive broadcast rights in the United States for the Olympic games, so unless you can find a sketchy way to watch another country’s coverage online, you are stuck with NBC. What seems to be an improvement over previous coverage is that there are replays available on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app, and also live events available to be streamed. This is great, right?

You also have to turn to either the website or app to view full events. NBC’s primetime coverage on television is weirdly skewed towards swimming and track, and while I don’t want to slight those athletes, there are other things going on, other things that are awarding medals, and semifinals in swimming shouldn’t be shown when other athletes are in finals for medals.

Anyway, last Thursday was the Women’s Gymnastics All-Around Final. I have been watching a LOT of women’s gymnastics on YouTube in the last few months, and I am a huge fan of the sport. I wanted to see the full coverage of the final, not just what NBC would show me in primetime, which turned out to be terrible coverage of mostly just American athletes, and again, showed swimming semifinals and made gymnastics fans wait until after 11pm on a weeknight to see the results.

So in an effort to watch the entire final when I got home from the office on Thursday, I opened the website to see if I could start watching the final, since I knew it was already over. This is what I saw.

Seriously, NBC? You couldn’t have avoided a spoiler here? This pissed me off so much, but I guess I should be surprised, given what was said by the NBC Olympics chief marketing officer:

The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the Games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and mini-series wrapped into one. And to tell the truth, it has been the complaint of a few sports writers. It has not been the complaint of the vast viewing public.

This is nonsense. Who are they polling or whatever to get this information? Why can’t I possibly watch a sporting event without it being turned into a reality show? The simplification of what “all women watching television in the United States” wants is asinine.

It is now 4 days later, and NBC is still committed to making sure that I know who won before I watch something.

If I was only interested in the performance of Simone Biles, I wouldn’t even need to watch this now, because they have told me who wins. When did someone decide that spoiler alerts were no longer relevant or necessary? I am still perfectly capable of avoiding social media in order to not be spoiled on things like this. The instances where I make this effort are few and far between, but it is possible.

Suggestions for alternative headlines:

  • Big day for Biles: Did she win? Watch now!
  • Watch now: Simone Biles’ historic run for gold!
  • Women’s All-Around Final: Watch Now

Each of these pages or stories could have giant spoiler alerts on them before revealing the medalists. It isn’t difficult in the least, but I guess I’m not interested in who wins, right?

The bottom line is that while this is ridiculous, I will likely continue going to NBCOlympics.com to watch Olympic events, because I simply have no other choice. I sincerely hope that they revisit their approach to coverage on television and online for the next event.

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