NBC and Facebook have announced a content sharing deal for coverage around this year’s Winter Olympics from Sochi in Russia. It continues Facebook’s ‘social’ relationship with the Olympics via NBC, which was solidified during the London 2012 games. But the real-time nature of the social networks may be an issue.
NBC viewers will be reminded to continue the online conversation on Facebook (and Instagram) while content from the social networks will feature during the NBC live broadcasts. Facebook users will be able to access behind the scenes videos from NBC on their NBC Olympics page, along with “polls, photo galleries, trivia and shareable information.”
I get the feeling this is a pre-emptive move on the part of Facebook. While Google Plus continues to build momentum, the only real competitor in real-time reactions is Twitter. The time to ensure people go to Facebook and not Twitter is directly after the moment has happened – presumably Facebook’s deal will involve on-screen captions with a call to action for viewers to share their thoughts on Mark Zuckerberg’s network.
All this is assuming that people who are active on Facebook will be happy to share their reaction to events at the Winter Olympics according to NBC’s schedule. The US broadcaster will be tape-delaying the opening ceremony by eight and a half hours, and while some high-profile events will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Channel via cable, the majority of events will be put together for a highlights-style program in prime time.
Facebook is rather good at working out what a user likes. When it comes to sports, Facebook is a natural destination for fans to post their reactions, and there’s every chance your own news timeline will feature reaction from the Olympics Games next month, discussing the winners, losers, and all the stories from Sochi.
Unfortunately NBC is locked into an almost fortress-like mentality of denying official coverage to these events until they can be broadcast in prime-time for an American audience.
Sports fans who are going to be interested in the Olympics have a stark choice. Be prepared for results and spoilers to flash past them when they go on to Facebook or Twitter… or log off the networks until America is given permission to watch the event.
Neither option is appealing. In the modern connected world where videos can circumnavigate the globe in less time than it takes the first viewer to cache the three minute clip, trying to preserve the surprise of an event for more hours than the working day seems foolhardy at best, and downright prehistoric at worst.
Flashing up a hashtag on the screen is not going to negate the simple truth that the online discussion around the Olympics isn’t going to follow NBC’s schedule, it’s going to be in real-time, it’s going to be instantaneous, and it looks like NBC haven’t learned the lesson of #NBCfail after the 2012 Summer Games.