Posted by: Laura Phillips Garner | February 22, 2010

Olympics Test Integration of New and Traditional Media by Peacock

NBC is suffering from growing pains as it integrates new and traditional media.

Give NBC a break.

The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are the first of the new media age. Twitter and Facebook have just tipped in popularity. Mobile marketing is only coming into its own. As broadband grows, Web site content becomes more interactive.

Consumers have many more ways to share the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat of the Olympics than ever before.

NPR Blogger Linda Holmes
pointed out in a post today that NBC needs to change its Olympic coverage because the way people take in media content has changed. She’s absolutely right. However, I don’t think NBC could have anticipated much of the criticism it is receiving. NBC had to produce integrated coverage of these Olympics, so it could learn what works and what doesn’t work for the future.

Maybe commentating the old way no longer works. Maybe NBC can no longer televise events that happened earlier in the day on its primetime broadcast because, by then, people already know the results via social media. NBC certainly shouldn’t hold up broadcasting the Olympics to the West Coast for three hours, especially since the games are in Pacific Standard Time zone. That just doesn’t make sense.

NBC is suffering from new and traditional media integration growing pains on a grand scale in a very public setting. Yet, the communications company is getting a lot right. has more content on it than anyone could ever view, and people have that content fed to them via Facebook and Twitter. Folks can watch the Olympics on their mobile phones, or, at the very least, get updates on the games. Finally, I’m sure some of NBC’s audience really enjoyed the ice dancing, short-track speed skating, skiing and bobsledding that made up most of the primetime network broadcast on NBC Sunday night. Personally, I would have preferred that NBC show the live broadcast of the Canada v. USA hockey game that it buried on cable on MSNBC.

In less than a week, NBC, you’ll be through the first Olympics broadcast with a connected audience that expects much more than a few hours of television and a Web site. In many ways, you delivered. Congratulations! Now, I hope we see growth with in London in 2012 and even more in Sochi in 2014.

Here’s a hint: A much-anticipated, sold out hockey game between the host nation and its closest geographical neighbor who share the National Hockey League belongs on primetime network broadcast television, where the public expects to find it. NBC probably could have sold that advertising at a premium, and the social network buzz would have been much more favorable.

–Laura Phillips Garner



  1. Hi,

    I agree that this Olympics, as a multimedia platform mega event was truly groundbreaking, and look to see what will come next.

    I do think there is still a market for viewing the events, even after the fact. I know that I enjoyed watching some of the downhill skiing events much more on my flat screen than I ever would have on my phone…

    Great post!

    • I think that mobile is a great way to get updates or see events when a person can’t be home to watch tv. This is my first Olympics with a flat screen and HD, and I’m really enjoying it! Remember the old days with Keith Jackson? 🙂


  2. Hello,

    I recently wrote a post about NBC not embracing the new media age. While I agree with you about this being new for the Olympis as well as the success thus far of the Olympics I think with some effort they could have found a way to target consumers and make sure the events such as the USA vs. Canada Hockey game which was one of the highlights thus far of the Olympics were on NBC and not one of their off shoot channels (MSNBC). Major Networking may cause the Olympics to lose NHL players. There has been talk of the NHL pulling out of the Olympics because the hockey is not on National Networks. I just feel they should have planned better. Put things that even knowing the score one would still watch on delay. While things not knowing who won is the key entertainment value not on delay. I think they effectively have done this in some occasions. Lindsey Vonn’s gold medal run was on delay, and even knowing she won I still wanted to watch this. It is a balance but I think the Olympics can be ridiculed and praised on different aspects but it could have been done better.


    • Jacob,

      Everything can be done better in hindsight. I think NBC will take a lot of learning away from Vancouver. I do think the USA v. Canada hockey game burial on MSNBC was a big faux pas on its part. That one I just don’t get. As for better planning, I think we’ll see it in the next games as I don’t think NBC anticipated how important social media would be at this games.

      Thanks for your comment!


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