When NBC first announced it would offer free live streaming to all of the London 2012 Olympic Games, a lot of people were delighted that they would finally not be stuck having to wait until the network’s oft-derided prime-time broadcast coverage just to see the results of events that were already spoiled to most folks with an Internet connection. And yet, even with the live feeds, NBC has managed to piss off an awful lot of viewers.
It began at the beginning. NBColympics.com touts live streaming of “All 32 sports. All 302 events.” But this apparently didn’t include Friday’s Opening Ceremony. Not only was this not made available on the live feeds, NBC kicked a hornet’s nest of hate when it opted to break up the event, editing out a touching tribute to victims of terror attacks in favor of a heart-to-heart between apparent swimming enthusiast Ryan Seacrest and Subway shill Michael Phelps.
Speaking of Phelps, he’s at the heart of NBC’s second huge goof. For weeks, one of the main stories leading up to the games has been the inevitable standoff between the gold medalist and his U.S. teammate Ryan Lochte in the 400m medley. Well, that showdown happened in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday perfect timing for audiences on both coasts to watch live on TV and online.
Except NBC opted not to air any of Saturday’s swimming medal events — or subsequent medals ceremonies — live on TV, opting instead for live coverage of events like volleyball. And if you missed the live stream, you can’t stream the medal races until after they air on prime time TV.
The same goes for gymnastics. None of the archives of the men’s qualifying rounds from earlier Saturday are available for streaming, even though we are far from the medal events in this sport.
While we can sort of understand NBC’s desire to air the swimming and gymnastics in the more lucrative prime time hours, we also think that NBC is deluding itself into thinking that most people will come to tonight’s broadcast not knowing how the events ended — especially since the network is live-Tweeting results and posting huge spoiler headlines on NBColympics.com.
Beyond all the questions of programming, many people are complaining about NBC’s live streams. The most common hiccup — and one that we at Consumerist HQ have experienced on several different browsers and operating systems — is the YouTube-based live feeds (which randomly go to ads in the middle of an event) freezing up after between 20-30 minutes of streaming.