FAIL: The Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Will Be Over Before Americans Can See It Tonight

If you live in the United States and you’re planning on watching the opening ceremonies tonight of the 2012 Olympic Games, you may want to go dark after 4pm ET today. That means no Twitter, no Facebook, no social media, no Internet and no TV channels other than NBC. Why? NBC has decided that every part of the Summer Olympics will be available live except for the opening and closing ceremonies. So while the United Kingdom and the rest of the world are watching the three hour opening ceremonies beginning at 4pm ET, the public in the United States will have to wait until NBC’s tape-delayed coverage begins at 7:30pm ET.

In the past, this wouldn’t be so much of an issue. But nowadays with all of us so plugged in to real-time events around the world, whether it’s on social media or via the Internet, NBC is taking the United States back to the Stone Age by giving interested viewers only one option to watch the opening ceremonies. None of the NBC-affiliated networks will be showing the opening ceremonies live. Neither will NBCOlympics nor the NBC Olympics Live Extra app.

I understand that NBC wants to experience a TV ratings bonanza tonight, and that the 7:30pm ET start is more convenient for viewers in this country. But NBC could have made the opening ceremonies available via their app, for those who wanted to watch it live. Yes, it would have diluted the TV ratings later tonight, but it would have been an NBC finally coming to grips with the times.

Instead, many of us now have to run the risk of trying to go dark for several hours so the surprises of what will be in store during tonight’s Olympic Games won’t be ruined. If you live on the west coast, it’s even worse. The opening ceremonies will be shown on television 6.5 hours after they started in London.

According to a NBC executive quoted in The Wall Street Journal, “The opening ceremony is not a sporting event with a score or a winner that is difficult to keep secret, but rather an entertainment spectacle that should be seen by family and friends gathered around the TV in prime-time hours.”

That NBC executive, the president of NBC Olympics, doesn’t have a clue. Yes, it’s not a sporting event with a score or a winner, but there will be a gigantic number of people tweeting around the world this afternoon, sharing their delight at seeing all of the different surprises that are in store. If it’s anything like the rumors I’ve been seeing this morning, people around the world (except the United States) will be incredibly excited and commenting about how amazing the Olympic Games opening ceremony is. Plus, news media organizations around the world, and in the US (especially NBC’s competitors), will be sharing photos and updates of who appeared in the opening ceremony on their own news broadcasts — live, and not delayed by 3.5 hours.

Needless to say, there will be a lot of opportunities for people to have their enjoyment spoiled later today.

Dare I might add that I won’t be surprised if NBC takes its time tonight to share the three hour spectacle with us. I’m imagining that NBC will build up the hype, and will slowly begin showing the opening ceremony instead of starting it promptly at 7:30pm ET. So don’t be surprised if the conclusion of the 3 hour opening ceremony — that should go from 7:30-10:30pm ET on tape delay — will be dragged on until midnight or later on the east coast.

The bottom line is that NBC needs to understand that viewers want a choice. In this modern world, viewers should have the choice to watch it live on their mobile device or Internet. Or, to watch it on tape delay with their friends or family tonight if they want. By giving Americans only one legal way to watch the opening ceremony tonight, NBC is setting up a system where they indirectly encourage people to watch pirated streams or risk getting disappointed. In the year 2012, we should expect NBC to make better decisions instead of living in the past.

38 thoughts on “FAIL: The Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Will Be Over Before Americans Can See It Tonight”

    1. Jason, this is a relevant story for a number of different reasons: (1) The games are being held in England, which is this site’s coverage area, (2) The Olympic Games includes soccer (including soccer players walking in the ceremony tonight), and (3) This site covers media issues relating to the coverage of our sport.

      What other soccer news is going on today that hasn’t already been covered by EPL Talk this morning?

      The Gaffer

  1. I cannot be the only American who absolutely DOES NOT CARE about being spoiled on the surprises of the opening ceremonies, nor really about the opening ceremonies at all. They are BY FAR the least essential part of the Olympic Games.

    1. I agree that they are by far the least essential part of the Olympic Games, but they are one of the most exciting. If you saw the opening ceremony last time in China, words cannot describe how amazing it was. And to have the surprises in store for this afternoon’s ceremony ruined is going to be a disappointment for many who will be watching tonight.

      For the record, I care!

      The Gaffer

      1. I kind of have to go with Heff on this…I was hosting an event last night and a lot of people were a bit peeved at us for not having a TV on showing the opening. To be honest I was shocked because I didn’t think anyone really cared but I was wrong.

  2. In my opinion, NBCSports has already failed by making ridiculous hoops just to watch streaming on their website of soccer matches that are already taking place, etc. Yeah, it’s available, but not in any simple way. It’s the Olympics; they’re going to get advertisers, it shouldn’t be that hard to watch something on-line these days from any of the major networks, etc.

    1. I can’t disagree more on the streaming. I was able to download the NBC live extra app and start watching the 2nd half of the US women’s match on Wednesday in the span of about 3 minutes.

  3. It’s impossible to watch their online coverage, either. You have to have cable TV with CNBC and MSNBC JUST to watch online. So if you have no TV or just basic cable, tough luck.

    And everything airing on NBC is tape-delayed to the West Coast and Mountain Time Zones.

    NBC is ridiculous. They did the exact same thing in VANCOUVER, which is right in our own continent.

  4. This is ridiculous Gaffer. You are acting as though you have a right to watch this live. The fact is NBC is providing a service. They would be incredibly stupid to devalue their investment by taking the ratings hit. Also anybody who cares enough should be able to avoid twitter for a few hours rendering the entire argument pointless.

    What NBC should do is charge people who want to watch it live and show it tape delayed for free.

    1. EVERY OTHER CIVILIZED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD IS WATCHING IT LIVE! NBC can easily replay the ceremonies in the evening like they do in Canada.

      They don’t tape-delay the Super Bowl to 8 PM do they? No. If people want to watch they will. We are not all uniform 9-to-5 people.

      1. Exactly. The people who want to watch will find a way. NBC has made a decision that is in their best interest. It is not like they are charging you to watch it. Are you angry that fox soccer doesn’t give you every EPL match live for free? It’s the same principal. They are a business.

        The Super Bowl is not tape delayed because it would never make sense to do so for Fox/ CBS/ NBC.

        And regarding your 9-5 comment, what should they do? Replay it constantly?

        1. Brad, I can’t believe you’re backing NBC on this one. You’re paying for NBC’s coverage one way or another, either to sit and endure their TV commercials, or paying your cable/satellite bill. It’s the same with FOX Soccer. You’re not paying them directly, but indirectly you are.

          All I’m asking for is a choice. NBC has provided none.

          NBC could have monetized the live showing of the opening ceremony on their website and app either through ads (as they are currently doing so), or by charging people to watch it.

          The Gaffer

        2. You didn’t even read my comment properly.

          Here’s what other countries in our region are doing – Air it live first, and then replay it in primetime. Come on, more people than ever have fancy apps and DVRs so they CAN record it live in the first place. How hard is that to do? The only thing they air in the daytime are soap opera re-runs.

          This is why I hate our system so much. The BBC is showing everything live and free (and they do it for more than just London) because they are publicly funded and would get a kick up the ass if they did anything that NBC did.

          Putting the business model first automatically eliminates the motive of satisfying the consumer.

  5. i’ll be watching live so I can give you a heads up on what is happening if you like? :)

    You shouldn’t feel too left out, there’s probably one or two other countries in the world who won’t have it live, Mongolia maybe, no I have that wrong, Mongolia has it live, Just the US I think

  6. HAHAHAHAHHAH american tv is the worst when it comes to international sports. all they care about is american football, basketball and baseball. thank god i dont live in the USA

  7. Gaffer- I understand there is some cost associated either way. But they are in no way preventing you from enjoying the opening ceremony. All you have to do is not go on twitter for a few hours. If you can’t manage that, you obviously don’t care enough.

    1. Brad, I’m sorry but my job as publisher of EPL Talk is to stay on top of the soccer news — whether it’s on the radio, television, Internet, Twitter, Facebook or other forms of communication. I can’t be off the grid for 8 hours (4pm ET to midnight), just to wait until the tape-delay of the opening ceremony finally finishes.

      But the issue isn’t about me. It’s about NBC’s obvious attempts to put satisfying its stockholders as its priority ahead of satisfying its viewers.

      The Gaffer

      1. Yep. Completely agree. No NBC without stockholders and no NBC without viewers. This solution seems to satisfy both in the best way possible. A large majority of the population will be fine waiting until prime time and they don’t devalue their investment by taking the ratings hit.

        1. How does it satisfy you in the best way possible? What do you have against the opening ceremony being shown live on NBC, and then replayed at 7:30pm?

          The Gaffer

          1. Gaffer- I have nothing against them replaying it, but like you said its not about me or you. What do you have against a business making money while providing a service?

            1. I have nothing against a business making money, but I do have something against a corporation hijacking the opening ceremony for their own commercial gain.

              All I’m asking is for NBC to give viewers a choice.

              The Gaffer

    2. Actually, it would be best to stay in a locked closet for 4 hours because someone from the outside world will spoil it. Stay away from technology because NBC decided not to effectively use it for the opening ceremonies.

  8. NBC is a horrible channel for international sports…this is the same channel which used to show the Wimbledon final on delay. As much as some aspects of ESPN annoy me, they would never do that

  9. I don’t care either way and likely won’t watch anyways, but NBC should have shown it live on its sports network and then re-run on its major network. Having the Olympics in England gives it a higher profile in the US. It should be available live on a secondary NBC network.

  10. For me it’s not so much about spoiling the event. I was planning on watching it being streamed live online and talking with family in England and Jamaica on skype as we watched.

  11. It is kind of disappointing that the opening ceremony was delayed and if you live where I live it came on a whole hour later. Nonetheless, it wasn’t the best opening I’ve ever seen but I’m still excited that the event is finally here. I’ll be watching the Games at home since I’ll be at work when most of the events are aired. I’m going to be eager to see the US compete so I made sure that the PrimeTime Anytime feature is active on my Hopper so I can record it all on NBC. As for the other channels, the Hopper comes with three tuners which means that I can record multiple events at the same time and watch whenever I want. A Dish co-worker made the suggestion to upgrade a few months back and it has come to be really handy. Good luck to all of the competitors, especially Team USA!

  12. NBC has alienated 1000’s like me who cannot afford cable. CBS got it right with the NCAA basketball tournament. Unfortunately, I will not be watching the Olympics this year.

  13. I ve never seen biggest failure in Olympic Games History..where is the Ancient Spirit of Games? Where is the true history and reason of Olympic Games? I only see Harry Potter , some nurses and a some singers which singing pop music , I round on the floor from lauphs I didnt see biggest parody like this one! Harry Potter is a part of History of Olympic Games? O M G UK must read again History of the Olympic Games!

  14. Here are some choice articles critiquing NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Games:

    Angry Olympics Fans Tweet Their Protests, NBC Responds:

    NBC Cut Terror Victims Tribute Because It Wasn’t ‘Tailored for the U.S. Audience’:

    Check Out What The NBC News/MSNBC Chief Digital Officer Thinks of #NBCFail:

    The Gaffer

    1. 1) I still stand by my argument that their decision to tape delay the opening ceremonies and certain events makes sense especially when they stream every event live on line.

      2) Having said that, their actual coverage of the events has been pretty bad as you outlined. In events like gymnastics they have almost exclusively shown the US team and nobody else. I’m guessing they spent more time showing the US athletes hugging/ crongradulating each other than any other of the athletes actually competing.

      3) Other than the coverage itself, I don’t really see why people are complaining so much. To me the biggest problem seems to be that people can’t stay off twitter or Facebook for a few hours during the day.

  15. Two posts of interest…

    NBC Cut Nearly An Hour From Its Closing Ceremony Telecast. Here’s Everything They Didn’t Show You (Including The Kinks’ Ray Davies) [Video]:

    London Olympics on NBC is Most-Watched Television Event in U.S. History:

    The Gaffer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *