As America succeeds at the Games, back home all the talk is about #NBCfail

Host Bob Costas made a series of jingoistic remarks, including a joke about Idi Amin when Uganda's team appeared

Los Angeles

There was feverish anticipation for the debut of the USA men's basketball "dream team", who began their hugely hyped Olympic campaign yesterday afternoon. But you wouldn't have known it by turning on a television in their home country.

While Kobe Bryant and other big names in US sport were completing a 98 to 71-point victory, viewers of American network NBC were forced to watch edited highlights of a women's cycling race that had been completed several hours earlier.

It was the latest in a string of mis-takes by the broadcaster, whose coverage is sparking ridicule from TV critics and outrage from the US public. For most of the weekend, the phrase "NBC Fail" was trending on Twitter.

The broadcaster's nadir, however, perhaps occurred during the opening ceremony, which it refused to allow Americans to watch live.

When the event was screened, hours later, large portions were edited out to allow more time for commercial breaks. Yesterday, opening ceremony choreographer Akram Khan declared himself "horrified" that NBC had even decided to cut the event's tribute to victims of the 7/7 bombings.

At the centre of controversy was NBC's attempt to leverage maximum revenue from the Games, for which they paid almost a billion dollars, by foregoing live coverage of high-profile events. Instead, it intends to footage on time-delay during evening prime time, when brands will pay a premium to advertise.

The tactic may very well be the most lucrative for NBC, but it's the least satisfactory for viewers, and seems to blithely ignore the advent of the internet era.

It meant, for example, that Saturday's titanic swimming clash between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte wasn't broadcast in the USA until several hours after it took place. Adding insult to injury, NBC had already announced the result on its own evening news bulletin. While real-time footage is largely missing from free-to-air TV, some coverage (including the "dream team" basketball) can be found on NBC's cable channels, if you happen to pay for them. Other bits are supposedly being screened, to cable subscribers only, on a website – but it was suffering from "technical" difficulties for much of the weekend.

Even when they do find live sport, NBC viewers must suffer some of the most invasive advertising in the history of television: roughly 20 minutes during each hour is taken up by commercial breaks.

Critics have also rounded on the quality of NBC's commentary, which has been riddled with basic factual errors. They ranged from a cycling host's allegation that the Surrey countryside is full of "chateaus" to a map on NBC's website which describes Australia as "located in central Europe, bordered to the north by Germany and the Czech Republic, [and] to the west by Switzerland".

During the "parade of nations" in the opening ceremony, NBC host Bob Costas made a series of jingoistic comments about the alleged terrorist threat minor countries posed. He then joked about Idi Amin when Uganda's team appeared, and referred to the Sacha Baron Cohen character Borat when Kazakhstan emerged.

His colleagues, meanwhile, called Luxembourg "a small, central European country", said Djibouti's name "sounds funny", dismissed Australia as a "former penal colony", and admitted that they "haven't heard" of Tim Berners-Lee, the Briton who created the internet.

Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff