NBC: Taking a Lickin’ and Keeping on Tickin’

By Jamar Hudson, PR News

Writing about the Olympics has been pretty much unavoidable the last two weeks. It’s been one of those events in which every day there seems to be an opportunity to take a look at the London games and find some sort of PR angle to examine.

And this post is no different.

Most notably, every time you go to check the medal count, you find complaints about NBC’s decision to air the events on tape delay.  It will go down as a footnote to these Olympic games, as, with social media, the anticipation of viewing the events in primetime has been diminished because the results have already been revealed to fans around the world.

The outrage reached a boiling point on August 5 when the International Olympic Committee had to weigh in following the delayed airing of the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt’s win in the 100-meter dash, perhaps the most anticipated event of the entire games. The twitter hastag #NBCFail has become a trending topic for those unhappy with the broadcast schedule.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams tried to deflect the negative attention from NBC, which has exclusive broadcast rights to the games, saying “it’s certainly not for us to tell them how to reach their audience,” Adams said, adding that NBC live-streamed the race for online viewers. “If you wanted live, you could get it live.”

But despite NBC’s communications team being constantly bombarded with negative press, the results are suggesting not that viewers are dissatisfied, but tuning in more than ever before.

In an AdAge Media News report, the first five nights of the games averaged 35.6 million viewers, the most for any Summer Olympics outside the U.S. since Montreal in 1976.

So not only has NBC experienced a much-needed ratings spike, but the brand has successfully weathered the storm of consumer complaints to produce a successful, viewership-wise, Olympics.

Complaints will happen from time to time for organizations.  For brands like NBC, it’s best to acknowledge that you hear what your consumers are saying, but still stick with the plan and hope it works out for the best.

For NBC, it’s worked.

 Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson