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SBD/July 31, 2012/Olympics
NBC's Lazarus Defends Decision To Show Top Sports On Tape-Delay In Primetime
Published July 31, 2012
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TACKLING CRITICISM: NBC on Saturday streamed the men’s 400-meter IM race live where American Ryan Lochte won Gold and Michael Phelps finished fourth. It did not show the race on TV until primetime, leading to a flood of criticism on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Lazarus said he was pleased with the race's results online and on TV. More than 943,000 online streams were started during that race’s window. When the race was aired on NBC, hours after it originally happened, it pulled a huge 24 rating in that segment. “My guess is that those people who watched it online came and watched it again,” Lazarus said. NBC also received a lot of criticism for not showing the Opening Ceremony live. Lazarus said the network never planned to stream the Opening or Closing ceremonies live, saying that such an event would be too difficult online without proper commentary. “We don’t believe that a raw feed, which would be a host feed, without narration and broadcasting would be a good user experience in a big stadium with lots of camera cuts,” Lazarus said. “We think we created the best experience. Frankly, I think all of the noise about Queen Elizabeth and Paul McCartney on social media and in the digital world helped build excitement for our primetime show.” Pointing to his network’s decision to stream every event live online, Lazarus said NBC is doing a lot more experimenting in these Olympics than ever before, particularly online, where it is streaming every Olympics event live. “It’s a technological feat that’s never been tackled,” he said. “I’m very proud of our team who have been working their butts off to continue to try and improve the experience every minute of every day.”
SURPRISED BY THE RATINGS: Lazarus said he has been surprised by NBC’s TV ratings performance. “I am surprised that we are having a dialogue today about being in the range of Beijing and exceeding Beijing at this point,” he said. “It sure is a lot more fun than being behind. If we were down 10 percent from Beijing, we’d be saying that this is probably about what we expected. Even 15 percent.” A main reason for NBC's strong ratings performance is the net's decision to blow out its digital and VOD offerings. “We have believed from the beginning that a multi-platform approach to surrounding consumers with Olympic programming leading to a primetime on NBC would make people want to gather even if they knew the results,” Lazarus said. “We still have a ways to go. But that seems to be playing out quite well.”