We've all come to terms with NBC's tape-delayed Olympic broadcasts, right? After a solid week of bitching, we've accepted that NBC's not a charity, that they're in this to make money, and prime time is the only time to make money. (And the ratings are bonkers. Despite projections of a $200 million loss on these Olympics, ratings have been so good that NBC has been able to sell more ad space, and they expect to actually turn a profit on the games.)
Just as we admit defeat, here comes NBC to rub it in. NBC researchers conducted a poll that—surprise!—says NBC has been playing this one correct all along. Apparently, knowing the results of events beforehand makes you more likely to watch them in the evenings.
Two-thirds of people questioned in a survey Sunday said they watch the prime-time Olympics telecast even if they know the results ahead of time. People who watched the events live earlier in the day via computer screen watched the tape-delayed broadcast 50 percent longer than those who hadn't, said Alan Wurtzel, NBC's chief researcher.
Look, it's impossible to tell what this proves. But here are two takeaways:
• People who like the Olympics really like the Olympics. It's not easy to get into NBC's live streams. You have to have cable, and you have to have a username and password from your cable company, and you have to put up with endless ads and buffering once you actually get to the stream. If you're willing to jump through these hoops, all the while hoping your boss is cool with you watching sports at your desk, there's a very good chance you're consuming everything Olympics. That includes events in prime time that you know the results of, whether you've already watched them or not.
• People like it when America wins. We win a lot; we're pretty much awesome. More medals than any other country. And NBC's prime time broadcast contains an inordinate amount of American victories...almost as if they know that's what people want to see. Prime time is a never-ending parade of American victories and American medals—it may not have the drama of live sports, but it always has the happy ending live sports can't promise. Speaking only for myself here (and that's not much less scientific than NBC's poll), I am always willing to watch a Russian teenager cry tears of defeat as the Star Spangled Banner plays. Even if I totally knew about it beforehand.
For a handy master schedule of every Olympic event, click here.