How NBC’s digital ignorance screwed the Olympics for you.

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Let’s be blunt: NBC shit the bed in their Olympic coverage.

In this digital, social media age – when earthquakes are tweeted about before the Earth even finishes shaking – NBC made the unfathomable decision to broadcast events on tape delay in order to garner primetime ad dollars. Apparently NBC execs figured a few billion people could keep secrets until after dinner.

The funny thing is, even if a few billion people weren’t on Facebook, Tweeting, texting and blogging, NBC’s strategy was so stupid, they spoiled their OWN results. While the broadcast was holding back the biggest events into the evening, at practically every other commercial break, they were encouraging viewers to check out additional content on their Olympic website which… wait for it… showed headlines of results they had yet to broadcast.

Fail.

Their Twitter and Facebook pages were no better. Before Americans got to see for themselves, the NBC Olympic Twitter stream had already blown the surprise of the Queen and James Bond parachuting into the arena.

NBC, you do understand how the internet works, right? (Rhetorical.)

But wait! There’s more! While you’re stuck trying to navigate a slow, horribly-designed, advertising-laden NBC site to see streaming events, 64 other countries get to view it live on YouTube for free. Afghanistan and Botswana get YouTube. You get McDonald’s ads to pay off NBC’s investment.

Then, to top it off, when they rightfully got hammered for their ridiculous ad dollar grab in lieu of actual viewer experience, they responded by getting one harsh critic kicked off Twitter .

Because, you know, THAT’S the way to respond to social media criticism. There’s no way that strategy could backfire.

It sure seems like NBC’s entire strategy was “Let’s just say we’re streaming everything live!” without understanding how the viewer actually wants to engage with their content. Consumers have spent the past decade buying giant-ass HDTVs. Not everyone wants to be forced to their 10-inch iPad screen to watch events live. And certainly not everyone can stay completely away from Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the internet long enough not to ruin the surprise before primetime.

Someday, the networks will come into the 21st century with a digital strategy that makes sense. Unfortunately for fans of the Olympics, that day isn’t in 2012.

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They should hire you.

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