@NBCOlympics: 'Great opening show; too bad you can't see it'

The network tape-delays the Olympics opening ceremony in the U.S., yet live-tweets the event (to get you all excited about not being able to see it on NBC?). Even Salesforce's Marc Benioff tweets a link to a pirate site.

Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It's something of a tradition for NBC to ensure that the U.S. is even further cut off from reality.

In previous iterations of its Olympics coverage, the network's insistence on refusing to show events live -- favoring instead tape-delayed, saccharine soap opera -- put many people off watching at all.

But not enough people, obviously. NBC seemed to believe that, without competition during the summer viewing season, it could create this false programming and people would watch by default, which quite a few did.

This year promised to be different. Every event was to be live-streamed. Oh, except two. The opening and closing ceremonies.

For some strange reason these would not be shown anywhere in the U.S. But that didn't stop NBC from live-tweeting last night's opening extravaganza. Yes, it used its tweets to get you all excited about not being able to see it on NBC.

Some might feel that it would have to take a humongous level of half-wittedness to conceive of such a plan.

But NBC's explanation was full of intelligence. In a statement to the LA Times, NBC said:

It was never our intent to live stream the Opening Ceremony or Closing Ceremony. They are complex entertainment spectacles that do not translate well online because they require context, which our award-winning production team will provide for the large prime-time audiences that gather together to watch them.

They require context.

Which, should you have finally watched some elements of the tape-delayed, contextual effort broadcast last night, was summed up quite neatly by Guardian columnist Charlie Brooker, who tweeted: "Tell you what though, Britain. You'd love the NBC commentary. Ceaseless, grim list of just how troubled each individual nation is."

Indeed, the NBC coverage opened with discussions about money and terrorism, rather than, oh, spectacle and sports.

Perhaps, though, the greatest contempt for NBC's sweet contempt was shown by Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.

Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

He is clearly a man who knows what he's doing. I am, therefore, grateful to TechCrunch for noticing just how impressed he was with the opening ceremony. He tweeted a link to a pirate feed, so that everyone could be equally impressed.

It is very odd that NBC should make such a pitiful decision, when every other broadcaster in the world somehow managed to overcome the contextual obstacles and show the event live.

Sadly, it is yet another short-term money-grab that doesn't even respect the remotest understanding of how social media would have increased the fascination -- so much so that, I suspect, even more people would have watched a rerun.

Instead, NBC live-tweeted just to get on your nerves.

Still, the delay did give the network the chance to, as Deadspin reports, miss out on certain sections in favor of anodyne interviews. One section mysteriously omitted was a tribute to the victims of the 7/7 terror attacks in London.

It's such a pity that NBC yet again managed to give the impression that the U.S. is a small, parochial country, one that struggles to provide context for its people.

 

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