RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – American TV viewers used social media on Friday to vent their anger at U.S. broadcaster NBC for delaying the screening of the opening ceremony of the Rio Games by an hour and then going to repeated commercial breaks during the show.
NBC, a unit of Comcast Corp, has the U.S. media rights for South America’s first Olympic Games and said it decided not to show the ceremony live because its producers and commentators wanted time to put it into context for Americans.
“It’s not a sports competition,” a NBC Sports spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Reuters during the ceremony.
“It’s a cultural ceremony that requires deep levels of understanding, with numerous camera angles and our commentary laid over it. We think it’s important to give it the proper context. And prime time is still when the most people are available to watch.”
But many viewers were upset at waiting to see a global event while audiences and news media in the rest of the world were already sharing pictures of it on the Web.
“The rest of the world has been watching it LIVE for a half hour now,” said one tweet before the NBC telecast started.
Another chimed in: “Great idea NBC. Don’t air what should be a global cultural event live. Why would everyone want to watch and enjoy together?”
Some journalists also showed their frustration, including Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker.
“Just staggeringly irritating that – 20 years after the birth of the web – NBC still shows the Olympics with a time delay,” Baker tweeted.
Others were annoyed at repeated ad breaks, including one who tweeted: “Can NBC slip in a bit of the Olympic opening ceremony between the commercials?!”
On commercial breaks, the NBC spokesperson said the delay enabled it to insert ads into the broadcast without depriving viewers of much of the ceremony.
(Reporting by Liana B. Baker and Leela de Kretser in Rio De Janeiro; Writing by Mark Bendeich; Editing by Andrew Hay)