NBC’s decision to tape-delay the Olympics has been vilified almost unanimously, for good reason. Especially on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, they’ve been receiving a steady stream of hate from Day 1, when they decided to make the Opening Ceremony unavailable on both television and their website until they could air it hours later in primetime. Since then they’ve continued this policy by delaying marquee events like swimming and gymnastics until the big money hours, showing them via web stream, but not as part of the television package.
NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus recently sat down with Sports Business Daily to defend this policy, and I have helpfully pulled out some of his most ridiculous quotes in case any of you needed a good excuse to go blind with rage and huck your laptop into a wall like a discus. Enjoy.
“I think what we’ve proven is that the American viewing public likes the way we tell the story and wants to gather in front of the television with their friends and family — even if they have the ability to watch it live either on television or digitally,” Lazarus said. “I inherently trust that decision is the right one and that people want to see these events.”
Yes, of course people want to see the events. That’s the whole point of putting them on television. To see them. Our issue isn’t that you aren’t letting us see them at all, our issue is that you’re operating under the belief that today — in 2012 — people will be perfectly content to stick their heads in the sand and wait for you to tap us on the ass and tell us when it’s OK to pull them out to see what’s happening in the world. That’s some 1975 sh-t. We know the events are happening live, you have the ability to show them to us on television, and you are not. To say that the American viewing public “likes” getting the story this way because the ratings are up is like saying a starving person “likes” eating small portions of crappy food because they cleaned their plate.
“As programmers, we are charged to manage the business. And this is a business,” he said. “It’s not everyone’s inalienable right to get whatever they want. We are charged with making smart decisions for our company, for our shareholders and to present the product the way we believe is best.”
THE SPIRIT OF THE OLYMPICS, INDEED.
Before the Games, NBC Sports identified the finals of five events — swimming, gymnastics, diving, beach volleyball and track and field — that it will not show live on television, opting to hold until prime time. Nothing from the Olympics’ opening weekend has caused him to change his mind.
“NBC has created a formula around story arcs,” Lazarus said. “The American population wants to get to know the athletes and follow their stories.”
Just a thought: Air everything live during the day, then put together a highlight package in primetime that shows all the best events and human interest stories and close-up shots of 16-year-old gymnasts crying (or whatever it is you jerk off to) so people who missed it during the day or want to watch it again with their family and friends have that option.
But hey, what do I know? I’m just the American viewing public. Apparently I need some dipsh-t in a blue blazer with a peacock pin on it to explain things to me and deputize some haircut to tell me how doing a flip on a four-inch wide beam is, like, hecka hard.
NBC also received a lot of criticism for not showing the Games’ opening ceremony live. Lazarus said the network never planned to stream the opening or closing ceremony live, saying that such an event would be too difficult online without proper commentary.
“We don’t believe that a raw feed, which would be a host feed, without narration and broadcasting, would be a good user experience in a big stadium with lots of camera cuts,” he said. “We think we created the best experience. Frankly, I think all of the noise about Queen Elizabeth and Paul McCartney on social media and in the digital world helped build excitement for our prime-time show.”
DO YOU KNOW WHY THERE WAS ALL THAT EXCITEMENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA? BECAUSE PEOPLE WERE STREAMING IT ON THEIR COMPUTERS FROM THE BBC BECAUSE YOU WOULDN’T PUT IT ON TV OR YOUR WEBSITE. ALSO, THERE WAS LITERALLY NOTHING PREVENTING YOU FROM PINNING A MICROPHONE ON MATT LAUER AND HAVING HIM NARRATE IT WHILE IT WAS HAPPENING LIVE. THAT IS HIS JOB.
Or, you know, maybe just stop talking out of both sides of your mouth (“We have to satisfy the shareholders!” “We have to educate the viewer”) and shut up and trust us to figure out that it wasn’t really the Queen jumping out of that helicopter. I know you think we’re all pretty stupid, but I think we can handle that one.