NBC bows to pressure, will live-stream Olympics closing ceremony

By Matt Williams, The Guardian
Saturday, August 11, 2012 16:52 EDT
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Olympics on TV via franklingraves Flickr
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Olympic broadcaster NBC has bowed to pressure and agreed to stream the Games’ closing ceremony live.

In a change of plan, the network will air London’s farewell to the quadrennial event in real time on its website.

It comes two weeks after company bosses came in for a torrent of online abuse for refusing to show the opening ceremony as it happened. Instead NBC opted for a tape-delayed program later that evening, allowing for greater advertising revenue.

Sunday’s closing ceremony – which is expected to include performances from the Spice Girls, The Who and Madness, amongst others – will not be available live to TV viewers. As with the opening, the televised show will be kept for the more lucrative prime-time slot.

But in the course of the last two weeks, NBC has found that the live streaming of sports events has had no appreciable difference on ratings for its main program.

The news has come too late for those who missed out on key sporting events including the first showdown between US swimming rivals Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps.

The decision not to air that race live – alongside criticism of its handling of the opening ceremony – led to an online campaign and the hashtag #NBCfail trending on Twitter.

Last week, NBC conceded that some of the gripes over its Olympics coverage had been “fair.”

But the network’s sports group chairman Mark Lazarus also made a spirited defense of its programming, suggesting that the “overwhelming majority” of viewers were sticking by its daily broadcasts.

© Guardian News and Media 2012

[Image via franklingraves on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]

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