NBC Universal's Great Idea: Let's Make It Harder And More Expensive To Watch The Olympics

from the this-is-a-joke,-right? dept

During the last Olympics, we sat stunned as NBC Universal made mistake after mistake after mistake in making it incredibly difficult for fans who wanted to watch the Olympics online to do so. And then, NBC Universal executives bragged about how difficult they made it to watch, when really they just shot themselves in the foot, since even the audience who could actually watch it online watched it more on TV. In other words, everything about NBC Universal's strategy backfired... and then they talked about how great it worked. It's hard to understand how the folks involved still have jobs.

But... rather than learn from that, it looks like NBC Universal has decided to make things even worse for the next Olympics. NewTeeVee points us to the news that NBC Universal is working on a deal that will require online viewers to first prove they have a pay TV package before granting them the ability to watch buggy, limited, delayed online video of the event. Oh, and of course, this will only apply to the cable or satellite providers who first pay NBC Universal for the privilege. How a viewer will "prove" he or she is a customer is still being decided, but will likely involve an IP address if you're at home, or some other convoluted system if you're elsewhere.

This really is just an extension of the ongoing discussions between the networks and cable/satellite TV providers to lock up their content behind a paywall before online video wipes away the need for pay TV. It's like watching a trainwreck way in advance. Any attempt to limit what can be done for the sake of keeping an old business model in place has always failed miserably. It's always disappointing to see people who should know better make the same mistake over and over and over again.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    dubus123, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 1:24pm

    NBC-Olympics

    One question, if the Olympics is broadcast on NBC, a station that anyone can get for free with an antennae, then why do you have to have a pay service to view the Olympics online??

     

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      Mark, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 1:35pm

      Re: NBC-Olympics

      One question, if the Olympics is broadcast on NBC, a station that anyone can get for free with an antennae, then why do you have to have a pay service to view the Olympics online?? This probably covers the coverage that is shown on MSNBC, CNBC, and the other cable properties that the games are broadcast on.

       

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 1:26pm

    I beg to differ

    It's always disappointing to see people who should know better make the same mistake over and over and over again.

    I rather like it. The sooner they kill themselves off and make way for the new content businesses who use infinite supply to their advantage, the better.

    Stunts like this also help push the ridiculousness of the major idiots more into the public. The more into the public, the more the public will help fight for freeing our culture from their tyranical reigns.

     

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      Evil Mike, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 1:33pm

      Re: I beg to differ

      Reminds me of a story about how the makers of wooden shipping crates managed to make it illegal to ship goods via railroad in a cardboard box...

      And now, neither wooden crates nor railroads are at the height of demand.

       

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        Chronno S. Trigger, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 1:59pm

        Re: Re: I beg to differ

        I seem to remember a story about the rail road companies forcing laws and taxes to stop truck shipping. And back then truck shipping was mainly from where the trains stopped to the stores themselves. Almost caused the trucking industry to fail completely.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 4:17pm

        Re: Re: I beg to differ

        Have you actually paid attention to the railroad crossings lately? Trains are fewer, granted, but also much longer, faster and double-decked. Wood and corrugated containers have both given way to plastic.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 1:43pm

    I keep reading that "access" is a "scarcity". Why is "access" now being vilified?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

      Re:

      I keep reading that "access" is a "scarcity". Why is "access" now being vilified?
      I believe that Mike and Co. have shown that access to a true scarcity is what you leverage, not using access to create an artificial scarcity.

       

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      Mike (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 3:26pm

      Re:

      I keep reading that "access" is a "scarcity". Why is "access" now being vilified?


      Access to true scarcities, as others pointed out. False scarcity is a bad business model.

       

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    Beefcake, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 1:59pm

    Canada

    I wonder what the CBC will do online-wise. Their televised coverage is already superior to NBCs in every way.

     

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    TheStuipdOne, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 2:01pm

    The Olympics

    Stopped being all that relevant when they started over-commercializing it. Sure, some ads, product placements, and sponshorships are needed to run an event like that, but every single aspect of the games is now run by the sponsors. athletes seem to represent companies rather than countries. NBC's greed is just another example of greed and corruption in what used to be a great event for all of mankind.

     

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      Tgeigs, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 2:15pm

      Re: The Olympics

      Agreed. It's now gotten to the point that they influence results. For instance, in that Michael Phelps race, the company that makes the timing sensors employs Phelps as a sponsor, AND one of the 3 judges was also employed by the company. Hence, Phelps wins.

       

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        Easily Amused, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 8:00am

        Re: Re: The Olympics

        you can't really be trying to say that Phelps cheated.. right? I am guilty of a few tinfoil hat conspiracy theory beliefs, but that one is just silly.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 2:04pm

    It's only the Olympics

    I used to be an avid sports fan. Ten years ago I would have cared about this. Now the Olympics is about who is best at using steroids without getting caught. Who cares about the Olympics?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 2:09pm

    uk proxy bbc

    /thread

     

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    Analyst (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    Don't worry about it...

    I'm sure plenty of "pirates" will start looking for more new and creative ways to "infringe" by making coverage freely available after the fact.

    Truly, I am looking forward to how this one plays out.

     

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    Overcast, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 2:26pm

    I used to be an avid sports fan. Ten years ago I would have cared about this. Now the Olympics is about who is best at using steroids without getting caught. Who cares about the Olympics?

    Have to second that 100%. Making it harder to watch, in any shape or form, is a bad idea.

    But interesting - like Baseball, many of these 'decisions' now, may result, in the end; in a much smaller audience overall - that will never come back.

     

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    Michael Vermaak, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 2:31pm

    BBC

    I'm just glad we have the BBC in the UK. It was great being able to pop onto their website and watch live streams from the sports as they happened and watch bits we had heard about but missed. The only thing the BBC do is the check your geographical location which has to be in the UK, it works transparently so as to give you access without having to jump through hoops. All that and no adverts!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 2:38pm

    Somebody watched the Olympics?

     

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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 2:56pm

    Yet another reason for ala-carte Pay TV..

    If I'm not mistaken, both Mike (blogger God Masnick) and Carlo (left field Longino) have been past defenders of the "Eat the Crap Sandwich" model for pay TV.

    Here's where -that- business model makes PAY TV more fragile and less responsive to consumers (remember, the customer?), and hence an easier target for Web Based TV Distribution.

    If I had the power as a consumer to vote with my dollars for the programming (and -programmers-) by choosing which networks I pay for on a monthly (or even quarterly) basis, Jackalope brained TV execs like this twit casserole over at NBC would be out on the street already.

    Mike and Carlo...Defend yourselves!

     

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      Mike (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 3:35pm

      Re: Yet another reason for ala-carte Pay TV..

      If I'm not mistaken, both Mike (blogger God Masnick) and Carlo (left field Longino) have been past defenders of the "Eat the Crap Sandwich" model for pay TV.

      You are mistaken. We have been critics of having the FCC *FORCE* cable companies to offer a la carte. It's quite different.

      We think a la carte itself is a good idea, and that it will happen naturally. We have problems with forcing cable companies to offer it.

       

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        GeneralEmergency (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 4:19pm

        Re: Re: Yet another reason for ala-carte Pay TV..

        Mia culpa. The distinction of who pushes them to it is important.

        We think a la carte itself is a good idea, and that it will happen naturally. We have problems with forcing cable companies to offer it.

        What natural forces are YOU seeing at work to move them toward this... cause I'm not seeing any.

        On the pro-ala-carte side, there is only the lowly end consumer and the specter of Internet based competition which is currently being beaten back by broadband caps being rolled out by the Big-ISP mafia.

        On the pro-Crap-Sandwich side, you have the cost of implementation (and yes it is technically feasible), on-going support and what I can only guess is a pathological aversion by the Networks to the idea that they could be "fired" by the customer for producing programming laced with dreck, political bias or too many commercials.

        On the whole, I'm seeing the pendulum swinging away from ala-carte.

        Please, make me more wrong.

         

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        identicon
        Dan, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 6:25pm

        Re: Re: Yet another reason for ala-carte Pay TV..

        "We think a la carte itself is a good idea, and that it will happen naturally."

        Why would it happen naturally? Cable is in its third decade and fighting tooth and nail to prevent the a la carte model. Just another example of the free market ideology blind.

         

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          Mike (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 11:22pm

          Re: Re: Re: Yet another reason for ala-carte Pay TV..

          Why would it happen naturally?

          It's happening today. You can get a large amount of TV online "a la carte." Cable companies are going to have to learn how to compete with that. And locking itself up isn't going to work.

           

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    Johnny Canada, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 3:51pm

    How do all these exec's keep their 6 & 7 figure pay cheques

     

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      swag, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 3:59pm

      Re:

      I asked the same question when my Internet company was taken over by NBC execs, they proved themselves to be complete fools online, I left, and the company folded 6 months later.

      And this was in 2000.

       

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    GHynson, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 4:04pm

    Quit Bitchin'

    And start killin'

     

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    another mike, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 4:22pm

    /sigh

    Yet another reason I dropped cable TV. There's no local affiliates within a hundred miles so there's no OTA TV either. And if the cableco hadn't raised my internet rates for buying only one product, I'd've upgraded to their top tier internet service. Alas.

     

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    VlogHog, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 4:45pm

    First Jay Leno five nights a weeks and now paying to watch Olympics.

     

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    identicon
    moondookie, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 1:52am

    olyimpics online

    the olyimpics suck , so who cares!

     

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    Ringer, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 9:24am

    NBC executives all belong in...

    the Special Olympics

     

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    spaceman spiff, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 11:25am

    No more Olympics for Hobbes and me

    I don't watch broadcast/cable TV any longer. It totally sucks! The few shows I'm interested in I get off the internet. I was an avid viewer of the Olympic games until now, and because they are making it impossible for me to view them, I will likely not be viewing them again in the future. These boneheads better learn, or they will be the buggy whip manufacturers of the 21st century, just like the record biz.

     

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    Michael, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 3:40pm

    Loons

    What would you expect from a group that collectively thought the Internet was a passing fad. I spoke with an NBC exec about doing an offline guide with keyword links to various online events ... also thought it would be cool to type in an athletes bib number as a keyword that links to the athletes bio. Created a demo with Deal or No deal case models, type in prefix "dnd" followed by a case models number, our fave is dnd15. Did not even receive the courtesy of a returned email, course maybe the rascal got promoted!

     

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    Leroy, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 5:38pm

    NBC

    Now I can see why Jay Leno means when he says that NBC is trying to sink it's ratings.... And now I know why I , and many others, are now watching Discovery, A&E, Animal Channel, and many other stations on cable. NBC this time you are not only shooting yourself in the foot but in the head too.....Sorry for you bad ratings that you are going to have.... again...

     

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    William C Bonner, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 11:09pm

    If I want to watch delayed events, I'll bittorrent them..

    I dropped my cable a couple of years ago. During the recent summer olympics I enjoyed the coverage I could get on NBC, and tivo'd large quantities of TV.

    As far as the opening and closing ceremonies I really hated listening to the commentators making inane statements. I happened to download a copy of the ceremony as a torrent, and found out that it was from Australia. I was pleasantly surprised to listen to their commentary, without the need to speak over every second.

    During the Salt Lake Olympics I had cable, including at least one Canadian channel (I'm in Seattle) and I preferred the Canadian coverage to the NBC coverage.

    NBC now tries to spread their coverage across so many properties, that it's unlikely I could find what I was interested in even if I had cable.

     

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