Rewind to 1996: The Magnificent Seven. Kerri Strug lands her gold metal vault on one foot. How did you find out? Many of us (including myself) idolized the Magnificent Seven and were glued to our TVs, a slave to the event schedule. Others read it in the paper the next day or saw it on the evening news. Possibly you saw in on the internet, but in 1996, a web page probably took the same amount of time to load as a five-hour time difference.
Today, you couldn’t miss an Olympic event outcome if you tried, even with the time difference between the U.S. and London. We have the luxury (or is it?) of real-time Olympic updates via Twitter. The updates are in abundance, too. The opening ceremony alone ignited nearly ten million tweets, topping the total number of tweets during the entire 2008 Olympics in Beijing in just one day.
With live streams, NBC primetime broadcasts (whose delayed timing inspired a hilarious Twitter parody account, @NBCDelayed) and a variety of other ways to watch the Olympics, everyone is watching the events at different times. The only problem is, people are tweeting up a storm, spoiling victories and defeats for their followers. It’s not just logging onto Twitter or getting a text from your friend either. NBC’s Brian Williams announced the results of the men’s swimming 400 IM final (without a spoiler disclaimer) which inspired the hashtag #NBCfail. We just can’t seem to keep from ruining the excitement of this treasured international event for others.
Sure you can hide in a cave, abstain from Twitter, the internet, and the news in general and give clear instructions to your friends not to ruin the results for you. But swearing off the internet just isn’t possible for most professions (including mine, where I am constantly scouring the internet for news on my clients and their competition, trends, and more.) Given our digital age, we’ve seen Twitter plague sports and scripted television, making spoilers extremely difficult to avoid. That is both the beauty and the curse of Twitter and social media outlets in general: you can receive the most updated, important news in real-time, but sometimes we just want to curl up on the couch, and consume news on our own terms.
With spoilers, delays and obnoxious Direct TV commercials on repeat aside, NBC is still seeing record viewership ratings when it comes to Olympics coverage. Are you still watching, even if you already know the results? Take my survey here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7MXWVVY!
–Laura Cumbow is an account executive at Airfoil, a high tech PR/marcomm agency with offices in Detroit and Silicon Valley