NBC seems to be stumbling over itself a bit with regards to its Olympics coverage. On one hand, tuning in for the events that the network has collected and packaged to air during primetime has proven to be an entertaining endeavor. On the other hand, those of us who are trying to enjoy the races without already knowing the outcome might be more inclined to steer clear of the network's programming earlier in the day.
According to EW, NBC apologized after a Today show promo that ran on Monday spoiled viewers on swimmer Missy Franklin's results for the 100-meter backstroke.
“Clearly that promo should not have aired at that time,” said an NBC Sports spokesperson in a statement. “We have a process in place and this will not happen again. We apologize to viewers who were watching and didn’t know the result of the race.”
While I'm sure plenty of people still tuned in to see the 17-year-old swimmer go for the gold, knowing the outcome of the race does sort of destroy the suspense. From the sound of it, it may have been an issue of poorly coordinating the time the ad aired based on when the race was broadcast on NBC. There's a lot to keep track of, particularly with the time difference and NBC's attempts to tape-delay certain events for later broadcasting, rather than showing them live.
People's interest in avoiding spoilers may be one reason Today isn't seeing the same kind of ratings increase it saw during the 2008 Summer Olympics. The Daily News is reporting that, while Today's ratings are up from last week, the show is down 14% overall from the same day during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. The site notes that Monday's numbers are based on preliminary information, which won't be finalized until next week. And Today can still consider the numbers a win in some respects, especially when factoring the statement mentioning that Today beat morning competitor Good Morning America by 1.5 million viewers on Monday.
The series has been facing steep competition from ABC's Good Morning America, which as it happens, saw a 6% increase in total viewers on Monday from the same day four years ago. GMA is on the rise, and it seems likely that its increase had some affect on Today's numbers.
For a look at what NBC has lined up for tonight's Primetime Olympic coverage, click here.