NBC Crows About Thwarting 45,000 'Illegal' Olympic Videos, Ignores The Fact That It Drove Users To Them

from the gold-medal-inconsistency dept

Aside from a now-traditional lack of enough live coverage, pretty awful commentary, a ridiculous over-abundance of a strangely limited rotation of ads, making Bode Miller cry and Bob Costas’ double eye infection, NBC did a pretty good job covering the Winter Olympics, right? NBC certainly believes so, even though it seems that many Americans found NBC coverage so immensely annoying, they went to great lengths to install VPNs so they could watch Canada’s version of the games instead.

What has NBC achingly proud, however, is the fact that the company cleverly worked with Olympics officials to prevent viewers from trying to access the games via non-sanctioned NBC streams and online outlets. According to NBC, the company worked to kill off some 45,000 videos of Olympics competition, and an estimated 5,000 live streams (they avoid showing their math or any historical context for those numbers):

“Officials estimate that 20,000 videos of Olympic competition were kept off YouTube, either through filtering technology that prevents them from being posted in the first place or locates and takes them down shortly after they are added. Another 20,000 were stopped from distribution on similar video-sharing sites popular elsewhere in the world, like Dailymotion in Europe or VK.com in Russia, NBC said.”

Right, well, good job I guess. The problem is that while NBC was busy waging their proud war on Olympic videos, they were simultaneously engaged in practices that were driving users to those same viewing options. While NBC did offer some live streams on their website, they were largely restricted to customers that only pay for cable, as part of the industry’s lame “TV Everywhere” mindset (a mindset that increasingly doesn’t seem to be doing much of anything for anybody, including cable). Worse, even some paying TV customers, like those paying for Comcast’s new HBO, basic cable and broadband bundle, weren’t allowed to watch the streams because they weren’t buying expensive enough TV packages.

To hear NBC tell it, this kind of absurd inconsistency in policy is all a perfect example of how when NBC and sanctioned friends work together to be inconsistent, it results in online perfection:

“When all the players in the digital ecosystem cooperate and work together, it is possible to create an online environment in which legitimate commerce thrives, jobs are created and consumers receive content how, when and where they want it,” said John McKay, NBC spokesman.”

A real gold medal performance all around, NBC. You really stuck the landing.

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Comments on “NBC Crows About Thwarting 45,000 'Illegal' Olympic Videos, Ignores The Fact That It Drove Users To Them”

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PaulT (profile) says:

“it is possible to create an online environment in which legitimate commerce thrives, jobs are created and consumers receive content how, when and where they want it”

This part of the statement is true. However, these kinds of tactics achieve pretty much the opposite. Just another example of how these people really don’t understand their own marketplace.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Aim at foot. Then fire.

That’s never an ultimate solution though. Running away from corruption will ensure it follows you (ie: to other goods and services). Pretty soon service providers will bill you each time you visit Techdirt or something. No, we must resist at the legislative level and ensure a legal structure that’s intended to serve the public.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Aim at foot. Then fire.

If you’re interested in sports, for example, one thing that a community might be able to do is create their own mini sports league and post it on the Internet or broadcast it even. It can start off small.

But to do that we must first … look into the laws governing such things and ensure that they are fair and don’t prevent newcomers from entering the market and competing with existing incumbents. Examine broadcasting laws to ensure they serve the public interest in a way that allows competitors to provide consumers with affordable options.

Everything starts with the law, running away from government corruption will ultimately get you only so far before bad law eventually catches up. We must participate in the legislative process and force our representatives to take our opinion into account.

Philip Anton says:

Tried to watch legally

We tried to get on NBCs website and see if you could subscribe to watch video or even pay to watch footage. The only option they gave was prove you had a cable subscription then you can watch all you want. Um if I had that why would I watch online. Anyway. They suck. The Olympic isn’t worth Paying $960 a year in cable subscription fees. Oh well.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Tried to watch legally

Couldn’t you just pay your cable company $50 to turn it on for one month and then cancel?

Have you ever tried to cancel something from the Cable Company?

No, seriously.

When I subscribed to cable many moons ago, I could do so from the website. They had all sorts of ways to subscribe or upgrade your subscription. When I cut the cord, I tried to cancel via the website, only to find that you had to call a phone number, and when I called that phone number, I was told I had to go to the cable company’s storefront property to cancel. I went on a relatively calm day, in the middle of the week, and took a number and sat down. Three and a half hours later, they called my number. I walked up and told them I wanted to cancel my cable subscription and only have phone and internet. They had me go through a twenty minute survey on why I was cancelling my service, then spent another twenty minutes trying to persuade me to keep cable and just reduce my options. Finally, they “cancelled” my subscription. A week later, I received a bill which said I still had basic cable. I called again, only to be told to go into the store to fix the problem. Rinse, repeat.

Seems like it isn’t worth the time or the money to get NBC for a month and then cancel.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Tried to watch legally

Even with the cable subscription, the online streaming sucked. You couldn’t really choose what to watch live. Was just the one live stream of what NBC thought you should be watching.

Maybe one day they’ll wise up and make all the events live streamable via a protocal like Bittorrent Live. A man can dream.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Tried to watch legally

Meanwhile, CBC was offering the “programmed” live stream, plus all the “uncut” live streams of all events, completely searchable so that you could scrub to the event/competitor you wanted to watch. All streams were left up for the duration of the games (may still be up now?).

While the uncut streams were a little odd (the commentators were still fed in, even when they were off the air [and eating their lunches/talking amongst themselves], and when they were on, they were often commenting on a different video stream than the one that was viewable), they meant that you could see exactly what the cameras saw, and watch any part of the olympics you wanted to (even if it was sometimes with bad camera angles).

It was actually the first time I was interested in the Olympics since around ’88, because I could actually watch the events I found interesting and replay to my heart’s content….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Tried to watch legally

Then you did it wrong.

If you had a cable carrier, you clicked which one and that was it. If you didn’t, then you clicked ‘none’, and then re-clicked that option after 30 minutes of viewing. You picked from a menu of events, such as all the US hockey games, which were being streamed live.

This article is just the standard Techdirt bullshit. This joke of a blog has been determined to drop its credibility to something even less than Fox News and that is exactly what has occurred.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let me give a shocker to NBC.

I absolutely do not care about the Olympics. I haven’t watched tv in over a decade. Because of that I have no interest in the Olympics. I don’t care who participates, don’t care who wins, don’t care who looses, and don’t care about the supposed events they participate in. Nor will I see the ads and commercials that come with all that crap. To me it’s not worth the bother to go hunt access; crap it’s not even worth the bandwidth it would take to view it. I saw exactly 0 minutes of the entire pseudo~competition simply because I had no interest in even looking for access in any manner.

So I congratulate NBC for being so effective. That’s really something to crow about isn’t it? So how many people did NBC employ and how much money did it spend to ensure all this guardianship from the likes of me?

Here’s the thing. You’re busy threatening people with lawsuits or whatever it takes to guard your precious. The supposed idea is to educate the public and prevent unauthorized viewing where they don’t control the ads and everything. I got educated alright. The message is leave it strictly alone and never, ever, view under any circumstances. When NBC wakes up and looks around at why there are no viewers and no one willing to pay to see it, they can pat themselves on the back over accomplishing their goals.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

“When all the players in the digital ecosystem cooperate and work together, it is possible to create an online environment in which legitimate commerce thrives, jobs are created and consumers receive content how, when and where they want it,” said John McKay, NBC spokesman.”

And when the fsck did you plan on actually working together rather than just trying to dictate your terms?

Anonymous Coward says:

Love the Olympics, not the Committees or the Broadcasters

I traditionally watch hours and hours of the Olympics. I love the Olympics. This time, I bet I saw less than six hours of the Olympics. There seemed to be so little coverage on the channels to which I have access, that it was hard to find coverage. During the last summer Olympics, we had coverage on multiple channels. This time, only one channel had coverage. Everything else required some sort of special subscription. Screw that.

I am also extremely annoyed by the Olympic Committees and their draconian approach to intellectual property. I am all in favor of intellectual property rights to protect a brand. However, to totally ban any images of any logo not an “official” sponsor is ridiculous, even dictating what athletes can wear and say. Such money-grubbing behavior, which turned me away from basketball and baseball years ago, is doing the same thing for the Olympics.

If broadcasters and the Olympic committees keep following this path, interest in the Olympics is going to decline. Let’s hope they wake up before interest declines below the level of sustainability.

fairuse (profile) says:

Sports, even the Olympics, is all about "The Show"

First a link to too much information on NBC Olympics:

What did NBC get for $4.38 billion? Exclusive rights to; 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020.
NBC is here to stay so plan ahead.

My turn. I want to give the NBC failed folks another point of view.

I am just weary of the sniveling and I only know one way to say it. If you don’t want to play within the rules that are statutory too bad.
Thanks I needed to get that out so I can present the obvious situation.

1. Sports is all about money and The Show in USofA
1.1 Count the number of cable channels that are 100% sports of some kind
1.2 How many Prime Time days of the week have NFL ?
1.3 Every sporting event is scripted with several talking heads. And if that is not enough other talking heads talk about what the other talking heads said.

So, 1 2 3 is the way sports yackety-yak is done and the Olympics is the big show for this kind of programming. Prime Time scripted Olympic Bull Shit. Disclaimer: I woke up at 0300 to watch live Curling but didn’t watch any of the Prime Time Olympics shows.

NBC built a marketing campaign that a bunch of folks (in this thread) dislike. Olympics should be available for everyone I read. Only the snobs who pay for the higher priced cable package get access I read. I don’t hear NBC saying the cost of getting the video from Russia to USofA is free.

This is Sports and TANSTAAFL rules. I pay and I expect a lot. During the Olympics I watched live and ondemand via android mobile, Kindle HDX and good ‘ol Safari browser on the iMac. Excellent stream quality, no app crashes and no buffering freezes.

Lastly a word about CBC, a Crown Corporation vs NBC, a commercial venture; each serves the market it is in, period. If anyone was wondering about the technical aspects of getting the video to CBC and NBC try google “iStreamPlanet Windows Azure” or http://www.streamingmedia.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_ain%27t_no_such_thing_as_a_free_lunch — “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”

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