NBC's Crippled Online Olympics Coverage Attracts Small Audience
from the surprise! dept
NBC apparently got about 72 million video streams during this Olympics season, and is touting this as a great success. It’s true that this is a lot more than any previous Olympics, but I don’t think NBC has anything to crow about. Remember, this is the most famous sporting event in the world, and it got non-stop media coverage for close to a month. Yet in a country with 300 million people, they only got a total of 72 million streams? That’s less than one stream for every 4 Americans. And as Ben Worthen points out, YouTube streamed 4.2 billion videos—60 times as many—in the month of May. So people are clearly watching a lot of videos. Most of them just aren’t NBC’s Olympics videos.
Amazingly, NBC is “using the Olympics to assert that TV is the preferred medium of consumers,” with 93 percent of all viewing. I think this says less about consumers than about NBC’s own marketing decisions. The problem is that despite its protests to the contrary, NBC wasn’t serious about web-based coverage of the Olympics. They held back the most popular coverage for television audiences, forcing online viewers to wait until later (sometimes much later due to a desire for tape delays) to watch the stuff they were really interested in. It looks like they also forced anyone who wanted to watch the video to download and install Microsoft’s Silverlight plugin. And of course they’ve gone out of their way to make embedding impossible, cutting off one of the most popular ways of expanding the reach of content. Not surprisingly, when NBC makes the Internet a second-class medium for Olympics coverage, most people watch TV instead.