NBCOlympics’ Opening Ceremony Tape Delay: Stupid, Stupid, Stupid

Comment

If you were paying attention to Twitter today, you were probably met with two conflicting sides of the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. On the one hand, you had those who were on the ground (or who had access to the live stream somehow — more on that later), and those who were bitching about not being able to watch the ceremony live.

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.

Now, tape delays are nothing new, but 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.

So really, how bad was NBC’s strategy around the U.S. broadcast of the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony in London? So bad that Mark Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com, and someone who should really fucking know better, tweeted out a link to a pirated live stream of the ceremony taking place in London. (Ironically enough, he was tweeting about the appearance of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, that magical thing which made the pirate stream available to the rest of us.)

Think about that for a second — you’ve got a titan of industry telling viewers to ignore the local broadcast rights and pay attention to an illegal copy of the event instead. Telling viewers not to worry about waiting for the taped broadcast, that this is something you should be watching right fucking now, and damn NBC if they’re not making the stream available and someone else is. The big lesson here is that if people care enough about finding a certain piece of content and watching it — live or otherwise — they probably will.

The sad thing is that NBC probably could have had things both ways — it could have live streamed and broadcast for the work-time crowd and those kicking it at home, and still had people show up for a re-broadcast after work, if they couldn’t watch live. This is a lesson that we thought NBC had learned from the 2008 Olympic games, when it held back live streams of the games for events that would be later broadcast on tape delay. To its credit, NBC is live streaming most competitions, even when the broadcast of those events will happen later. But for whatever reason, that lesson wasn’t applied to the opening ceremony.

No doubt NBC made the decision not to broadcast the ceremony live because it was worried it would lose some of the primetime audience — after all, people are more likely to show up and watch something at 8:00 PM than mid-day on a Friday. It had advertisers who paid big money to show up against the event, and it didn’t want to piss them off by running the ceremony early, when people were at work and would only be half-paying attention. Maybe it thought that if it broadcast the ceremony live there wouldn’t be a primetime audience.

So here’s an idea for NBC in the future, especially when it tackles the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia: Forget about the tape delay. Or sure, show the ceremony in primetime, but also show it live while it’s happening. Those who care enough to get up and watch the thing at 6:00 am will do so — and the rest of the audience will show up in the primetime hours, just as they always have. And then your twitter stream won’t look so stupid and embarrassing and frustrating for those who actually want to see what you’re tweeting about.

More TechCrunch

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

1 day ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

1 day ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares