NBC is defending its Olympic coverage amongst harsh criticism from viewers.
Criticism of NBC started early on during the games, with thousands of viewers taking to Twitter to voice their displeasure with the network’s coverage of the opening ceremony.
International Olympic Committee chairman Thomas Bach made a speech at the opening ceremony with several pointed remarks directed at Russia’s discriminatory policies on homosexuality. American viewers wouldn’t know this, though, because NBC chopped out entire segments of the speech in the version broadcast to the U.S. The Twitter hashtag #NBCfail – often used in the 2012 summer games – was back just hours into this year’s Olympics.
NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus defended the network’s decision to cut and edit much of Bach’s speech from the ceremony.
“[Bach] repeated his message several times in different ways throughout that speech, we edited for time and time only," Lazarus said. "His message was that of tolerance, anti-discrimination inclusion and we fully support for the IOC’s reviews on these issues…We had to fit into the window so we edited small portions to get to that point. But President Bach’s message of tolerance and inclusion was loud and clear and we support it, as I said."
Viewers have also complained about NBC’s handling of the time difference between live events and their showing in the states. The time difference between Russia and the U.S. must be accounted for, to be sure, but many accuse of NBC of releasing results of events on their website and mobile app hours before viewers get a chance to see the competitions themselves.
NBC research Chief Alan Wurtzel boldly declared on Wednesday that NBC’s spoilers “just don’t matter” to most viewers.
“Look, you cannot go nine hours and not hear about results but apparently, for most viewers, it just doesn’t matter," Wurtzel said. "Forty-four percent said they heard results on Saturday prior to Sunday but it had no impact. In fact, over one third said it made them more interested in the games and only 15 percent said knowing them — the results — made them less interested."
NBC’s viewership ratings are down from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, albeit only slightly.