A Word on Tape Delay

Everyone’s all up in arms about NBC showing major Olympic events on tape delay, hours after they’ve happened, and hours after many on social media – notably, Twitter – have reported the results.

If you don’t understand why NBC would do this, let me explain. It all boils down to money – ratings and revenue. If they were to air events in real time, most of the United States would be at work, not in front of their TVs; and advertisers would pay much less for these smaller audiences. By tape-delaying major events (think Lochte/Phelps, Gymnastics) into primetime, advertisers are more apt to buy spots, and at a much higher value.

You want the IOC to step in and stop this madness? Think again. The IOC relies on the USOC and its massive broadcast revenue. Before reaching an agreement in May, the USOC received a 20 percent share of global sponsorship revenue and a 12.75 percent cut of U.S. broadcast rights deals.The IOC deemed that excessive; the two sides finally reached an agreement wherein the USOC will retain the revenue it currently receives but its TV rights share will be reduced to 7 percent on any increases in broadcast deals and its marketing share cut in half to 10 percent on increases in sponsorship revenue. In addition, the USOC agreed to contribute to the administrative costs of staging the Olympics — $15 million through 2020 and $20 million after 2020, the officials said.

In both situations, the IOC quite clearly benefits from US broadcast revenue and would certainly cheer any decision that enhances that revenue.

NBC is doing what is best for business – and is reaping the benefits, with ratings beating Beijing on each night thus far. The minority of social media users who insist on ranting about tape delay every chance they get need to face the facts. The Olympics is no longer just about its original and core value of promoting amateur athletics – it is about endorsements, coverage, sales, and advertising – and that isn’t NBC’s fault, they’re just the messenger.

If you don’t want to know who won the race, get off Twitter.



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