If youve spent any time on Twitter this weekend, you know about #nbcfail. NBC has been so roundly and soundly (and rightfully) criticized for its coverage of the London Olympics - primarily its decision to run the marquee events on tape-delay rather than live.
In previous Olympics, tape delay was less of a big deal. I can sort of understand tape delay if the time difference is so great that running events live would put them on in the middle of the night. But London is just five hours ahead of the east coast. There's no excuse except for greed (and if NBC continues to pull strong ratings like it did over the weekend, what incentive does it have to change?)
It's 2012. Social media and the web are making our world smaller. News travels faster than ever. To try to pretend it's 1988 is long-term suicide for a media organization.
But to me, the real failure of NBC is the perpetuation the old vs. new media. That false dichotomy that you can either have media the old, traditional way, or the new, social way.
There's no reason NBC can't do both old and new media. There's no reason it couldn't embrace social media while also providing i’s traditional, story-before-score Olympic coverage. Hell, there’s no reason why they couldn’t show the events live on one of their cable outlets, or online, or even the network, and then replay them at night in prime time (Miss the race this afternoon? Watch it tonight. Heard all the chatter online about the? Find out what everyone’s talking about …). I’d argue sports is a news event that always deserves to be live, but you could be creative how to do it.
The #NBCFail is about a media organization being stuck in the past, looking to maintain 20th century business practices in the 21st century world. It’s about a network failing to recognize that the audience is more empowered than ever. It’s about a mindset that social media is something fun that celebrities use to say positive things rather than a means for people to get news and share experiences.
At its core, it’s about perpetuating the myth that old and new media are opposite ends of the spectrum, instead of complementary tools that we use in tandem to engage the world, one tape-delayed race at a time.