#NBCfail and the Olympics

Around the world, the London Olympics were celebrated as a successful sporting event, from the opening to the closing ceremony. In the U.S., however, delayed television broadcasting of major Olympic events by NBC triggered a massive backlash on social media. #NBCfail trended on Twitter for days after the delayed prime time broadcasting of the opening ceremony. I was interviewed by Discovery News and TechNewsWorld on the impact of social media on the coverage of the Olympics.

The following is an excerpt from the multimedia package “How Tech Is Screwing Up the Olympics” by Discovery News:

“The backlash is natural because we’re in a global communication environment. If you think that no one will find out information, that’s a little delusional,” Marcus Messner, a professor and social media expert at Virginia Commonweath University, told Discovery News. One of Messner’s main area’s of study is the impact of social media on traditional news coverage.


“I think the opening ceremony was the most irritating thing,” said Messner. “I’m surprised that NBC thinks that it can edit out and delay information without anyone noticing. That’s where the backlash on social media is happening.”

“The viewing habits of television viewers is so fragmented,” Messner said. “Today, we have a young generation — the twenty-somethings — they’re not tuning in at the 6:30 news in the evening. They want the news whenever it happens. On the other hand, however, there is a need for journalism that provides comprehensive coverage. An individual person with a cell phone can never do that.”


“Social media should not be a threat to media companies,” he said. “They should fully adopt, run with it and use it as a promotional tool for their own coverage. NBC could be the one who is dominating all the coverage on social media.”

Still, Messner says, if anything, criticism over NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Games will lead to changes in how the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics are broadcast.

“Things have to change,” he said. “I think this will be one of the last Olympics where a television company is going to try and direct viewers to a certain time. The innovative thing would be to make everything on demand.”

The following is an excerpt from the story “Will Social Media Spoil the Olympics?” by TechNewsWorld, which was published before the Olympics:

“You have to stay off the Internet,” said Marcus Messner, professor of journalism at Virginia Commonwealth University. “You can’t avoid knowing who won if you are on Facebook or Twitter. The only way to save it for prime time is to stay off social media.”


“This content will likely be branded as a way of providing the coverage, but it will be used to promote the prime time,” Messner told TechNewsWorld. “They can brand it that if you really want to see everything, you need to tune in. You can get the results — but the comprehensive coverage will on the TV broadcast.”


“I think we’re going to see a lot of social media, including amateur video and commentary from citizen journalists,” added Messner. “This really could enrich the coverage more than it takes away from it.”


The other part of the equation in how social media might “spoil” the games has to do with whether those taking part know to think before they tweet. (…)

“If you wouldn’t say these things in front of TV camera, then don’t tweet them,” added Messner. “The same rules apply to social media. It is not surprising that the officials reacted that way in Parachristou’s case. But even with the Australians, it comes down to don’t post photos you might regret later. There is a permanent record once you post them.”

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