The silver lining in the #nbcfail cloud

A touch of irony: There’s good news in the #nbcfail fuss for the network and all networks: The channel is not dead, not yet.

If I went too far — which, of course, is what I do for a living — I might argue that once we could get all the sports from the Olympics live on the web and apps, then we’d abandon old-fashioned broadcast channels and fragment ourselves silly. The channel, I’d argue, is a vestigial and artificial necessity of scarce broadcast spectrum, so who needs it?

But, of course, that didn’t happen. NBC is getting record ratings for its old-fashioned channels — even though it is airing an incredible volume of video online and even though Twitter, Facebook, and the web act as gigantic spoiler networks assuring that every result is known by every American hours before prime time.

Here’s the silver lining, then: Viewers still want channels and the value they add. That is precisely why they’re so mad that NBC is not showing the hottest contests live, because that’s what they expect a great channel to give them: the best, right now.

So NBC could take the #NBCfail fiasco as a Valentine. Not only would I argue that all the spoilers and chatter online are driving audience to prime time but the audience is telling NBC they’d prefer to watch a well-produced channel than the internet.

Take that, Jarvis and all you internet triumphalists!

Listen hard, NBC. Serve your audience well and maybe you’ll keep an audience.

  • Meh. For all its faults, NBC knows that everyone wants to eat but very few want to join the hunt. To its core, it knows that to be true about human beings. But that doesn’t stop everyone around the table from bitching about the quality of the food! #blockTHATmetaphor

  • The REAL silver lining for this viewer is that since – thanks to NBC – I can’t watch the Olympics at all, I have the pleasure of following #nbcfail, which is tons more interesting than their Olympic coverage.

  • John

    It is not clear that viewers, particularly sports fans, “are so mad” …. There is certainly some Twitter noise but we do not know the source. NBC haters? People already watching hours of the games during the day? People who see a trend and hop on with a clever tweet? We clearly need some numbers. Based on the evening viewer numbers, it seems that we do not have a lot of seething people.

  • I do think this will force Comcast to use every channel they have on cable (with the possible exceptions of the NBC News channel (as MSNBC will likely evolve to) and Golf Channel) to show live coverage from Rio de Janeiro of many more events. That means NBC, NBC Sports Network, Bravo, USA, CNBC, and SyFy will all carry live Olympics coverage in addition to extra channels if necessary (like they’re going this year with a channel for basketball and soccer on Comcast Xfinity systems).

  • tobetv

    Why the high ratings for dinosaur NBC? People want to watch some content on a jumbo flat screen while sitting on a comfortable couch or recliner. Except for cable their isn’t much competition being aired against the Olympiad. And the majority of Olympic viewers aren’t sports fans. The audience composition is similar to the Super Bowl. 50/50 hardcore sports fans and water cooler viewers. How else can you explain people sitting through the saccharin profiles and mom and pop shots that dominate the coverage. Oh, did I mention the horrid play-by-play and ‘expert’ analysis that accompanies the sporadic screening of the actual competition?

  • EB

    I tried to watch the historic Michael Phelps Olympic races today on the NBC Live app on my iPad… About a minute in, it froze. I had to force close it and restart it. Then watch another commercial, and by the time I got back to the live stream, the race was over. So, the app only part-way works…. It’s not ready for “prime time” and for the record I will watch NBC tv tonight, I just hope they put these swims on before 10 pm, my bedtime.