Next month, the whole world will be watching the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and here in the US, NBCUniversal is manning the control room. It’s a huge job made even more difficult by the time difference. I’m writing this at 1 in the afternoon on Friday but it’s currently 1 in the morning on Saturday in Russia.
In the past, NBC dealt with the time difference by airing the events on a tape-delay. They’d run the lesser known competitions throughout the day and save the big ticket events for the primetime hours. A nice solution as long as you stay off the internet. These days, it’s hard to avoid seeing Olympic news pop up as it happens. Winners are congratulated via Twitter. Video of career-ending falls end up on YouTube. And there’s NBC pretending it didn’t happen until they go to air 12 to 24 hours later.
This year, NBC decided to try something different. They’re going to live stream every event online and on mobile. You’ll probably have to login with your cable company user info, but that’s all you’ll need to have real-time access to whatever you want to see.
NBC has also entered into an exclusive partnership with Facebook designed to get more viewers involved in the event. The official Sochi Olympics Facebook page is live and already has more than 400K followers. A big part of the push is a series of video features produced by NBC for Facebook. The first one tells the story of “the unlikely bond between America’s top short track speed skater J.R. Celski and Grammy nominated artist Macklemore.” This isn’t a YouTube video embedded in Facebook post. If you want to watch, it’s Facebook all the way.
NBC also plans to have Q&A sessions with fans and commentators as well as with ice skater and Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes.
Unfortunately, the Official Olympics Facebook page isn’t all fun and games. People are already leaving derogatory comments about certain competitors and the venue and this is bound to escalate once the competition begins. I’m curious to see if NBC will allow the page to become an unmoderated battleground. Free speech is one thing but in my opinion, they have an obligation to keep the site free of hate speech and foul language.
The Olympic games are supposed to be about harmony. It would be nice if the Facebook page was a reflection of that spirit.
What do you think? Should NBC moderate comments on the Facebook page or should they allow the conversations to go where they go?