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There have been a lot of complaints about the way NBC handled the 2016 Rio Olympics. From making it difficult for non-cable subscribers to access online content, to not airing live TV events, there were a lot of varied issues with the broadcast. When a network takes on a project as big as the Olympics, you should expect an issue or two, but a new report indicates there may be a big reason the 2016 Olympics broadcasting had so many problems.
If the report holds true, the answer is that NBC bid too much money to make sure the network got the Olympics broadcast, and that bid then ensured the network didn't want to spend a ton of money to make the 2016 broadcast any better or more technologically advanced than prior years. Per Awful Announcing, NBC just made a terrible investment which then led to a terrible user experience.
Here's what happened: Back in 2011, the rights to the next four Olympics came up. At the time, NBC wasn't a shoe-in for the gig. In fact, for a time, it seemed that either Fox or ESPN might get the job. That year, each of the major networks put in a bid for the US rights to air the Olympics. Some people reportedly thought NBC might bow out, but instead the opposite happened. NBC came in at $4.38 billion---a whole billion dollars more than Fox's bid.
If you think that's a lot of money, you're totally right. In fact, even if NBC had bid a billion dollars less than the network did, the company would probably still have lost money on the Olympics, the goal being that the network would make money on brand recognition and promoting its new shows. However, at a billion dollars over, NBC was likely not excited about implementing a bunch of new technology, like streaming, during the several weeks that Olympics broadcasts aired. It would have added additional cost to the behemoth that was already the Olympics broadcast.
Of course, the budget wasn't the only problem with the Olympics. NBC also announced the network was intent on telling a reality TV-esque story during the several weeks that the various events aired out of Rio. The network also mentioned they had a female audience that wasn't really interested in sports in mind when NBC was putting together broadcasts. Whatever the target demographic, the Olympics was ridiculed for airing events in haphazard ways and for forcing people through hours of events they didn't really care about in order to get to the events--like gymnastics--that aired way late in the broadcast, despite being taped earlier in the day.
The unfortunate news is that the Olympics are in the hands of NBC for some time to come. Clearly the ratings--while good--were down from the 2012 Olympics, and the network is going to have to change things moving forward if they want to capture the millennial audience the network so desperately needs. Hopefully, that will mean easier streaming access and more live broadcast options. There's an equally good chance we'll have the same problems next time around, though. We'll keep you updated.