Criticism of NBC’s coverage of the Rio Summer Olympics began early. Tear inducing back stories showing an Olympians inspiration and path to the games is a well known trope. The real tragedy that emerges from NBC’s blaming an entire generation of Americans for poor performance is that there was no attempt to modify the plan during the nearly two weeks of coverage.
We live in an era of endless media capabilities. Everyone is a broadcaster. Our ability to do video chats, follow stories, record and distribute has never been higher.
They saw there was trouble. They had two weeks. Two weeks! They did nothing, despite this endless supply of flexible media.
- Be authentic. Focus on the sports and athletics – not the pageantry drama. The US has a growing culture of participatory sport and fitness. The swimmers and track and field were captivating. Watching the way the swimmers pushed themselves down the pool, just like Usain Bolt around the track, was amazing. These events garnered the most positive response because of the athletic performance, not because of the drama and pageantry. These individuals at the peak of fitness demonstrated the best humanity can do. What can really be added to that narrative? Let the video and results stand for themselves. If the negative feedback on Day 1 had been listened to, why could NBC not get out of their own way and reduce the amount of drama laden content they were showing? The video editing of the home town athlete shots was sunk cost. Just scrap it. Show it online. Instead, they rode this time-wasting, message killing content to the end.
More video out to YouTube. The online app was awful. Forced advertisements. Poor search terms. My daughter loves equestrian events. These weren’t easy to find, forced us to watch a pre-roll and were hard to preview. Put out daily highlights for each event!
- Use your local affiliates! Our local affiliate out of Raleigh, NC did a montage on Sunday showing their crew down in Rio. Why not hand more off to these groups early on when you see the scope of discontent in your plans? If the states are the laboratory of democracy – why not trust your partners with some unique content avenues?
- Change the format of what you are showing! Every chatboard shows the love of the BBC’s sport-centric coverage. Just do that. Stop with the constant cuts and jumps from sport to sport. Take the teary-eyed Olympic biopics and put those out online.
- Change the distribution channel! Everything was NBC owned and controlled, it was clear that the app did not get enough testing, and that the channels were constrained by the number already owned. Why not put better content out on Facebook? Put better sport content out on Facebook! If you don’t put the sport content out clearly, then those other channels can only cover the sports-as-narrative conversation, because that is all they have access to. This creates a negative feedback loop when someone goes on to FB, sees a silly story, but wants to watch the athletics, and then gets forced to watch a silly story, instead of the world’s best athletes.