Breaking: NBC does not care that you are whining on Twitter about the poor quality of its Olympics coverage. It does not care about #nbcfail. It does not care that people are sharing spoilers and attacking NBC reporting gaffes and lampooning what is perceived to be general buffoonery on the part of the network. Why? According to All Things D, on a press call today, NBC sports head Mark Lazarus said, “the silent majority has been with us.” Putting aside the grotesque hilarity of this soundbite—Nixon said, “and so tonight—to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans—I ask for your support,” arguing that Americans who had not protested Vietnam were, in fact, supporters of the war, meaning that Lazarus has now officially compared NBC’s Olympics coverage to the Vietnam War, himself to Nixon, and uncomplaining Americans as, well, complicit with catastrophe—Lazarus has a point. Analytics indicate that the majority of Americans are satisfied with NBC’s coverage.
The combination of live web streaming and tape delayed broadcast is paying dividends for NBC. During the call, Lazarus said that viewers who streamed coverage were twice as likely to watch broadcast coverage and spent half again as much time watching.
And spoilers? They don’t matter. Survey says: 43% of respondents said they heard results, and of that 43%, 67% said they were more likely to watch versus the 54% of respondents who did not know results. Meaning that spoilers were correlated with increased viewing.
Web analytics are promising, too. Traffic to nbcolympics.com has grown 8% over Beijing, and traffic to the mobile platform has doubled.
Most damning for critics, buzz on social networks, of a positive or negative variety, has increased interest in watching coverage. 82% of survey respondents said, “with all the buzz I have become more interested in watching the Olympics.”
What does this amount to in dollars? Unlike in previous Olympic years, NBC will break even, not take a $100 to $200 million loss. So NBC, while recognizing the fairness of some criticism on Twitter, says please, keep criticizing. It keeps the ad dollars flowing.
Note: A similar phenomenon is occurring with social media based “protests” over Chick-Fil-A’s position on gay marriage. In response to the negative media attention, Chick-Fil-A held an appreciation day. It was a record-setting day in terms of sales. The efficacy of social media protests as a tool against corporations backed with unknown and immeasurable “silent” support is dubious.