There Are Spoiler Alerts, and Then There are Spoiler Alerts

By Chris Ariens Comment

“Today” show EP Jim Bell has turned his full attention to the Olympics. While racking up ratings gold as the executive producer of NBC’s primetime coverage, (28.7 million watched Saturday night, the most ever for the first day of competition) Bell is also seeing the criticism about why NBC isn’t showing more events live — a critique that comes up every four years. (With the next Summer games in Rio de Janiero, more events will be live in the U.S. as Rio is only one hour ahead of the East Coast, compared to London’s 5-hour time difference)

Bell has gone so far as to respond to some viewers directly.

Bell, in some of his back-and-forth with online critics Sunday, answered one tweeter who described herself as a St. Louis mom and complained about NBC’s “Nightly News” on Saturday airing results of events that hadn’t been shown on the network yet. Bell tweeted that he’d look into it, and shortly after told her that “Nightly News” would announce a “spoiler alert” to tell people to avert their eyes if they didn’t want to see results.

The thing is, Brian Williams did give a spoiler alert, albeitĀ  in a round about way, right at the top of the broadcast:

Good evening from London. While we try to be sensitive about spoiler alerts for our viewers who like to watch the Olympic games in prime time here on NBC and let the story play out, the news we begin with here tonight has already rocketed all the way around the world.

That was Ryan Lochte beating Michael Phelps in the 400-meter individual medley hours earlier.

Sunday night’s spoiler alert was more upfront, though it came 7 minutes into the newscast as “Nightly” began with political and international news before getting to the Olympics:

If you don’t want to see the results, close your eyes or look away for a moment. We won’t say anything on the air to give it away, but it will be on the screen, and then we will tell you when it’s safe to look back.