NBC Spoils Missy Franklin's Gold Medal-Winning Swim With "Today" Promo
NBC last night spoiled the results of Missy Franklin’s win in the 100-meter backstroke before the race aired during its primetime broadcast. NBC’s Dan Hicks wrapped up his call of Franklin’s swim in the 200-meter freestyle semifinal before going to a commercial break by saying, “How good can Missy Franklin be tonight? Finals of 100 back coming up.” A promo for this morning’s episode of “Today” then aired, carrying the voiceover, “When you’re 17 years old and win your first Gold Medal, there’s nobody you’d rather share it with. We’re there when Missy Franklin and her parents reunite.” The NBC broadcast returned to show Franklin preparing to run the backstroke event. Hicks said, “Missy Franklin just moments away from her first Olympic final. … Missy Franklin goes for her first individual gold medal” (NBC, 7/30). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes Hicks “was not at fault; he was calling the race live to tape,” and he could not have known NBC "was simultaneously serving another master, the morning audience, by carrying a promo that ruined his call.” An NBC Sports Group spokesperson said, “Clearly that promo should not have aired at that time. 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.” Sandomir notes the error did arouse “further ire on Twitter about NBC’s Olympic broadcasting policy” (NYTIMES.com, 7/31). Also in N.Y., Jeremy Peters notes NBC’s decision to stream Olympic events online has “resulted in more than a few spoilers for major events,” but no spoiler was “quite as embarrassing as the ‘Today’ slip-up” (NYTIMES.com, 7/31).
INSULTING TO THE VIEWERS: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Sophie Schillaci wrote many viewers have "dutifully avoided the Internet and other mediums that would spoil the Games’ results," but few fans "expected to face those spoilers on the very network that was broadcasting the event” (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 7/30). YAHOO SPORTS’ Chris Chase wrote spoilers during the Olympics are “difficult to avoid,” but to hear it directly from the network just prior to the race is "irresponsible, hypocritical and insulting.” NBC needs to "stop believing that 25 million casual viewers gives it a mandate to slap the minority of hardcore ones in the face." Chase: "There's a dedicated corps of fans who dutifully avoid results throughout the day. The network ruins it enough by tape delaying coverage. Don't compound the issue by spoiling it, too” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/30). SLATE’s Josh Levin notes to “boost the ratings of its morning show, NBC promoted a newly minted star who it had yet to mint as a star because it was trying to boost the ratings of its primetime show.” With its “commercial screw-up, NBC pulled off the amazing feat of ruining the event it had already ruined.” The only people who were “harmed by NBC’s flub tonight were the poor suckers who had played by the peacock’s rules.” It is the “suckers who pile up the ratings points that pay the network’s bills, and the network pays them back by treating them like an ATM rather than an audience” (SLATE.com, 7/31).
MORE EXPLANATION WOULD HAVE HELPED: The AP’s David Bauder writes Hicks and swimming analyst Rowdy Gaines last night “rightly made a big deal” of Franklin having “only 10 minutes between races just before her gold medal run.” However, it "would be nice to know why she spent some of that precious time in a pool, swimming back and forth.” Meanwhile, a nice touch on NBC's Franklin coverage was a "profile showing how the 17-year-old swimmer stayed with her friends and family in Colorado instead of leaving home for more intense training” (AP, 7/31).
EMOTIONAL RESCUE: ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’s Adam Vary named Franklin the publication's “Olympic Stud of the Day” and wrote for fans unfamiliar with Franklin before last night, NBC's Bob Costas “informed the viewing audience that this remarkable young woman hails from Aurora, Colo., the site of the horrific movie theater shooting 10 days ago.” Vary: “Costas then cut to a scene of local kids watching Franklin swim her 100m backstroke final (and apparently watching it live, those lucky rascals), and losing their ever-loving minds when she won." Vary: "I’m still kinda reeling from that one” (EW.com, 7/31).