Comcast/NBC Tone Deafness, Not 'Millennials' To Blame For Olympics Ratings Drop

from the we'll-adapt-when-we-damn-well-feel-like-it dept

Olympics watchers repeatedly begged Comcast for live opening ceremonies, more live events, less host prattle, and fewer ads ahead of the recent games in Rio. What did Comcast deliver instead? A smorgasbord of abysmal bloviation, tape delays, and so many advertisements that many people stopped watching in disgust. As a result, the Rio Olympics were the lowest rated Summer Olympics since 2000, with average viewership down 17% and an overall audience that was 25% smaller than 2012 in the 18-to-49 demo.

We’ve already noted how a big reason was Comcast/NBC’s absolute refusal to actually listen to paying customers and heed lessons from the cord cutting era. But a Bloomberg headline this week proudly crowed that Millennials were somehow to blame for the slide. Amusingly, the piece cites a comment from NBC exec Steve Burke, who last June described a scenario he said would be a “nightmare”:

“We wake up someday and the ratings are down 20 percent,? the chief executive officer of NBCUniversal said at a conference. ?If that happens, my prediction would be that millennials had been in a Facebook bubble or a Snapchat bubble and the Olympics have come, and they didn?t know it.”

That is, so we’re clear, an NBC exec predicting that if NBC’s Olympics ratings dropped, it would be the fault of Millennials living in a bubble — not possibly due to anything NBC did. And with ratings dropping from 17 to 25%, Burke’s nightmare scenario effectively came true. NBC is quick to point out that streaming was actually up, but that wasn’t able to help an overall dive in ratings. And while Comcast/NBC is quick to insist it’s adapting to consumer demand, people young and old found Olympic streaming to be an annoying and cumbersome experience littered with paywalls, delays, authentication issues, and other headaches:

“I?m sure NBC were patting themselves on the backs for how easy it would be to watch online this year, but that?s only true for cable subscribers, a slowly shrinking percentage of the US population, especially for Millennials. The reason NBC is losing Millennials to other platforms for entertainment is because all of those platforms have lowered the barriers to enjoy the programming. I can sign up for Hulu, Netflix, and HBO nearly in an instant. Oh, and did I mention they?re all ad free (with a premium on Hulu)?

Had NBC offered the entire Olympic Platform for a small fee (less than $10), they probably would have seen their Millennial numbers skyrocket. Hell, they could have charged $5 more for an ?Ad Free? presentation and padded their pockets even more. But instead, they relied on the old dying models of traditional broadcast network and revenue models of years past, and it bit them in the ass.

Why is streaming so clunky and difficult? Because most cable industry streaming efforts are designed to give the illusion of innovation, flexibility and adaptation, without actually providing any of these. Why? Because offering a truly easy, inexpensive online streaming service (Olympics or otherwise) would cannibalize the traditional cable TV cash cow. As such, easy, flexible and inexpensive streaming remains an intentional afterthought, and will until cord cutting finally reaches critical mass. In short, like so many legacy industries, pay TV won’t truly adapt until the house is fully engulfed in flames.

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Comments on “Comcast/NBC Tone Deafness, Not 'Millennials' To Blame For Olympics Ratings Drop”

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Anonymous Coward says:

They may have gotten more viewers by charging $10 instead of requiring an existing cable sign up, but I can’t imagine the number ‘skyrocketing’ at anything more than charging $0. I would tend to think almost anyone who is aware that the Olympics were broadcast over the air for free to anyone with an antenna would have a hard time justifying the $10 to get it over a wire when there’s still ads. Maybe a lot of people would have gotten the $15 plan if it was actually ad free, but I can’t imagine these companies even conceiving of that plan.

JBDragon (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s how I got my Olympics. I used a Antenna. Luckily I have TIVO!!! I basically set a season pass and had it record everything.

Then I watched a few things I was Interested in. To do that, Fast Forward at the fastest speed to zip though most of the crap to find what I wanted. It would say in the list the most basic like Swimming, Gymnastics, etc if there wasn’t anything in that recording block I was interested in, I wouldn’t even waste my time scanning through it all.

That saved me a bunch of time. The cost was ZERO!!!

Ad free streaming for $5 more? That would have NEVER been a option and will never be a option. $5 for a person is not going to make up for all the programming and all the commercial breaks they’re going to be showing you in those 2 weeks. If you’re streaming, you’re pretty much forced to sit though any and all commercials as you can’t FF though it. That’s even better for them then TV. You can’t even channel surf when streaming and commercials come on.

nerdrage (profile) says:

Re: here's the REAL reason they won't change

The irony is, they have to do this sooner or later because that’s where the whole industry is going, so why wait? Start finding out how the whole ad-free subscription-based thing works and expand from there. But they won’t because NBC is owned by Comcrap and Comcrap is determined to hold onto the archaic cable and ad based business model they know because (and people keep forgetting this), the executive suite is full of old guys who know this business and not the whole Netflix/Amazon Silicon Valley thing. If the business model changes radically, why would the old guys keep their jobs when some kid from Silicon Valley would know 100x what they do? Even CEO’s have bosses who can fire them – boards and shareholders.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

It doesn’t help that the Olympics have lost tons of legitimacy in the last couple decades. Ever since they managed to hold the Games–which are supposed to celebrate the dignity of mankind–in the infamous human rights cesspool that is China, a lot of people just stopped caring.

Stupid stunts by the IOC and broadcasters in subsequent years are just nails in the coffin.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The Olympics were held in Nazi Germany and somehow persevered. I don’t know if it’s (entirely) a human rights thing, but people do seem to be waking up to the fact that the Olympics are a scam and the only countries/cities willing to host the two-week-long farce party are those with abysmal human rights records and authoritative governments to begin with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The economic blight caused by the Olympics in countries that aren’t already prepared to host the Olympics has become clearer to see, too. The pre-Olympics economy in such countries takes a huge hit because of the need to build and sustain the Olympic facilities until after the Olympics, and the post-Olympic economy nosedives due to the decrease in tourism, the post-Games cleanup, and the further costs of keeping the facilities around.

Adam (profile) says:

I think there's more to it than this.

I am not a millennial. If anything, I’m Gen X. The Olympics once felt like it was coming and it was worth watching… but this year, they felt irrelevant and under promoted. I am a cord cutter. I have no cable in my house however I am an avid consumer of streaming. I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu an Amazon. I watch tons of youtube and the like. I listen to a few hours of radio each day. I felt like the Olympics were here before I even knew they were coming and even then I mostly heard about how they were restricting everything from those who weren’t even official sponsors… how does one prevent a hashtag from being used, exactly?

The olympics are irrelevant now. When swimmers are getting 1 million dollar deals… I’m just not interested in watching spoiled kids play sports anymore.

JBDragon (profile) says:

Re: I think there's more to it than this.

Why shouldn’t a swimmer get a 1 million dollar deal? They spend YEARS working hard to swim like they do which costs a great deal of money. It should pay off in the end if you’re good. 1 million is nothing.

How about Football players or basketball player. Playing what is basically a game and getting MILLIONS for doing that!! Then they also do commercials on top of that for a lot more money. Do you have a problem with that also and not watch?

I’m not a big sports person. I watch so little of it. You’re changes of getting on top where you can get the millions is pretty slim no matter if it’s a Swimmer or a basketball player.

I also think it’s silly to pay for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Almost the same price at that point to just pay for cable TV. As a cord cuter myself, I get most of my TV with a large Antenna, and I have Netflix and Amazon. I only have Amazon really for the free second day shipping. I had them both before I cut the cord 4+ years ago. In fact I don’t remember exactly when I last watched something with Amazon Prime. I think it was The Man in the High Castle. I do more Amazon Music if anything. It’s mostly Antenna and Netflix.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I think there's more to it than this.

How about Football players or basketball player. Playing what is basically a game and getting MILLIONS for doing that!! Then they also do commercials on top of that for a lot more money. Do you have a problem with that also and not watch?

Not the guy you’re replying to, but this and other reasons are why our family refuse to watch any sports. We have zero interest in watching millionaires play catch inside taxpayer subsidized stadiums, before going out and making a fool of themselves and ending up in a newspaper arrest report.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I think there's more to it than this.

What is the alternative, the team owners make all that money? I am actually glad to see the athletes make some of that money since they are the ones risking their bodies. I guess the argument could be made that there shouldn’t be that kind of money in sports, but since there is, I think the athletes should make a good portion of it.

Glen says:

My wife is really into the Olympics so I watched them from time to time. I grew tired of the commercials quickly and also got a little frustrated when they would tease something as being “right around the corner” and having to see it 30 to 45 minutes later. We both gave up on it and started watching other stuff. Way to go NBC!!

JBDragon (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Which is where a DVR comes into play. I had my TIVO recording everything and then I looked at each chunk and see if there was something I wanted to watch in that chunk, and then I Fast Forward through most of it. I zipped right on past 90% of it. No sitting though all the crap. I could just watch what I wanted. If I didn’t have TIVO or some other DRV, I wouldn’t have been able to take it. I can’t take it much on normal TV programs either. My Tivo Roamio now has commercial skip on Primetime programs. 1 push of a button and I auto skip the whole commercial block.

I could never handle watching commercials let alone forced to sit through a show at the time they wanted to air it. I just record everything I want to watch. My Tivo has 4 tuners in it meaning it can record up to 4 programs at once. I let it record and I watch something I’ve already recorded skipping away all the commercials. DVR’s, the greatest TV invention ever.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Olympics are a non-event these days

People didn’t “oops, I’m in a bubble and totally forgot that the Olympics were happening”

They “Fuck the Olympics, I’m going to spend my time with more quality entertainment”

I haven’t watched a single Olympic event (Winter or Summer) since LA (was that 00 or 04? can’t recall). The only Olympics coverage I watched this year were stories about the sewage that some of the athletes had to swim in for a few of the events.

Jay Lahto (profile) says:

Re: The Olympics are a non-event these days

  1. Unless you’re thinking Atlanta, that was ’96.

    I watch other countries teams (particularly Japan) play. They seem to be more passionate and involved.

    The streaming and On Demand was horrible. Several of the events I watched had no audible commentary at all and looked like pasted together outtakes from previous broadcasts. The ones that did have commentary were often completely out of sync with the video, like watching football on TV with no sound and listening to baseball on the radio.

Sean (profile) says:

Hated tape delay

I watched a little of the Olympics. We just watched the events that we liked. I swear some of the commentary was recorded after the event was over. I would be watching a swimming event and they would talk about the swimmer from some particular country and they would say how no one from that country has ever won a medal in swimming. They spent quite a bit of time talking about that swimmer. Then low and behold that swimmer won gold. Wow, they sure can predict the winner.

This happened multiple times. Too much, in my mind, to be a coincidence.

TechDescartes (profile) says:

Points Gun at Foot, Shoots

“We wake up someday and the ratings are down 20 percent,” the chief executive officer of NBCUniversal said at a conference. “If that happens, my prediction would be that millennials had been in a Facebook bubble or a Snapchat bubble and the Olympics have come, and they didn’t know it.”

But how could that happen with thousands of companies using social media to show their support of the Olympics? Oh, wait. Never mind.

TechDescartes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Points Gun at Foot, Shoots

To be fair, the USOC only does what it does to “protect” NBC’s “investment”: “Among all those organizations, only one gets a contractually locked-in percentage of the IOC’s broadcasting deal with NBC and its lucrative ‘The Olympic Partner,’ or TOP, sponsorship program: the USOC.” Washington Post (Jul. 30, 2016).

Anonymous Coward says:

I think sometimes people forget that ratings measure the number of viewers that saw the commercials in some time period (live, live+24h, live+3d, live+7d are the most valuable stats).

Olympic interest and viewership could be way up and ratings could be down and that’s not necessarily a paradox. It might be a problem for NBC since online ads are worth almost nothing compared to TV ads, but that doesn’t mean there’s no interest in the Olympics.

I think Burke is probably right to believe the drop in TV numbers for the Olympics is due to millennials and the way they watch television.

Anonymous Coward says:

But these guys have monopolies over your Internet connection too. So when it comes down to it they’ll just charge you more for Internet access.

Though with things like 100 TB hard drives coming out it’s possible for more brick and mortar and delivery like services to supplement online streaming if it ever came down to that. You can have a ‘redbox’ like service with a bunch of movies on it. You stick a Netflix USB hard drive into it and it automatically transfers whatever you want onto it. You can delete movies from your hard drive while at home and queue the movies you want to add. Next time you go to the store and stick your hard drive into one of these boxes it can automatically recognize your hard drive and automatically transfer the content you requested while you were at home onto the drive while at the store. No need to hassle with any interfaces at the store since your selection was made at home and the box recognizes your drive and knows what you want based on what you selected at home. With USB 3.1 at 10 Gb/sec it wouldn’t take that long.

This still assumes a basic Internet connection though which ISPs have cornered the market on. But it wouldn’t require a fast connection at all so at the very least it would be a whole lot more difficult for them to justify higher prices based on bandwidth hogs. Not that their bandwidth hog excuses aren’t nonsense and it’s not like ISPs need a good reason to justify high prices. The only reason prices are so high is due to a lack of competition. But at the very least even a dial up connection or your 4G connection can relatively easily facilitate such a service.

The service can also optionally include a screen at the store where you can select your content to be added if you don’t want to do it at home or don’t have an Internet connection and don’t mind messing with interfaces at the store. The store box can have one screen per box with one USB port and the rest of the USB ports around the box can just be for users that have preselected their content at home. These USB ports only need like two small lights per port, one red one to indicate that the transfer is still being done and one green one to indicate that the transfer is over.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Optionally, for those that wish to shop while their media is being transferred, perhaps they can work out a system where you have a USB port inside a locker. You have a membership card with a magnetic strip associated with your drive.

So you stick your hard drive into this locker and lock the door (cameras are around the box presumably so no one tries to break in and the building has security). To lock it you close the locker and swipe your card. There can also be an optional pin number you type in when you pick up your drive for two factor authentication if you wish.

You go shopping. Your selected files automatically transfer. Then you come back, scan you Netflix card (type your pin), and the locker opens. You pull out your drive and go home. The locker can optionally have a screen above it where you can select your content at the store in case you don’t have an Internet connection or don’t wish to select your content at home (or over your 4G on your phone perhaps). Otherwise you don’t have to mess with any touch screen interfaces at the store if your content was selected at home or elsewhere over an Internet connection.

The box should also allow you to transfer free Youtube content as well as content from other sites. There may be a series of free youtube videos you wish to watch but either have a slow Internet connection or you have ridiculous bandwidth caps. Of course this assumes the Youtube user has the option of allowing the content to be watched in this manner.

If ISPs start to become too expensive there are ways to work around them. So there are limits as to how expensive ISPs can become before people do find workarounds.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It should also be noticed (and don’t shoot the messenger) with 100+ TB hard drives on the horizon and all the recent advancements in video compression pretty soon it will be impossible to stop piracy sneakernet style.

Music piracy is already impossible to regulate. I can fit years of consecutive good quality music, without repeating a single song, onto a $100 3.5 inch hard drive. With faster bus speeds it’s easier than ever to trade songs among friends in a way that the government can’t even come close to meaningfully regulating. and it’s not like anyone respects corporate bought copy protection laws, everyone knows these laws are corporate bought. Impossible to enforce laws + laws that people know are corporate bought and not democratically passed = laws that will easily be ignored.

and with 100+ TB hard drives coming out and better video compression already in existence the same thing will happen to video.

Miles (profile) says:

It was NBC's own fault.

The network distributed coverage among too many cable channels, did not provide a unified way of allowing people to browse the schedule, and was entirely ethnocentric, so if an American was not leading in the competition, we got no coverage. Even in the parade of nations on opening night, we missed seeing some countries in order to see different groups of the Americans waving at the camera; is that really necessary?
Also, they’d advertise a specific competition, then delay coverage to air those backgrounders on the athletes, and more commmercials.

Indy says:

He did nail it, it's just all generations?

“We wake up someday and the ratings are down 20 percent,” the chief executive officer of NBCUniversal said at a conference. “If that happens, my prediction would be that millennials had been in a Facebook bubble or a Snapchat bubble and the Olympics have come, and they didn’t know it.”

This pretty much describes me since about 2000. The games in general just seem really dull to me. I figure I’ll catch a highlight later, commercial free, but even that wouldn’t make me feel like I was “missing out” on anything.

There’s not a chance in hell I’ll start watching my media with commercials interspersed anymore. Ever. No media is worth it.

freakanatcha (profile) says:

The Olympics Outdated

Until there is a big fantasy business around the Olympics, it’s always going to be a struggle to get Millennials interested in large numbers.

Plus, they need to update the sports. add MMA, etc. My vote would be a new sport where you get drunk and kick in a bathroom door. My guess is Hope Solo would dominate the women’s

bcross52 (profile) says:

how about an actual 'schedule'????

I’ll admit I haven’t ‘cut the cable’. I live in a somewhat isolated place where the cable isn’t even available so I depend on satellite TV. Would have loved to watch some specific events, BUT there was no listing that told me when that event would start. I could record a 3 hour block that might contain pieces of six events . . . five of which I did not care about. Sorry. Want me to watch? Give me a timeslot that I can program into my DVR.

JBDragon (profile) says:

Re: how about an actual 'schedule'????

I recorded it all on my Antenna. Early morning, Morning, day, Night. Each chunk which may be from a hour to 4 hours or whatever, would show what was in that chunk. If there was something in it I wanted to see like Woman’s Beach Volleyball, I’d just FF as the fastest speed scanning it and then I’d watch what I wanted.

I just season Passed the Olympic’s. It was simple enough and it recorded everything!!! You could have done the same, but with more then just NBC but their other channels also if you wanted.

Google also showed listings on when whatever event you were interested in were on and what channel. There are ways to do and get what you want, with a DVR skip most of the crap.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Fire the execs!

The Olympics are on cable because at one time, people were in a cable bubble. They went where people were. If people are in a Facebook bubble then they need tobe be getting themselves over to Facebook pronto.

It’s their job to put events where people will watch them, not expect people come to them. You can’t blame the public for ignoring you. They’re not the ones missing out – you are. The Olympics are only as important as the number of people that care.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Fire the execs!

You know, I think you might be on to something here.

Take Buzzfeed for example. They do have a website, but their goal isn’t to drive traffic to their website to see a banner ad, it’s to get their content viewed. They make discrete packages of everything and send these pieces out to flow wherever the virtual breezes take them.

If NBC wants viewers, they should make it easy to follow a country or a sport or a team or an individual. The tools are there for slicing and dicing this stuff a million different ways. The days of a single large audience that can be sold to Ford and P&G are done. That audience is still there, it’s just not easily sold as a whole.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s been their established strategy for many years to pursue non-sports fans exclusively, while assuming that the more die-hard sports fans could be treated like a captive audience with nowhere else to go.

And just like with Hollywood’s recent lessons about “Reboots”, they discover that this strategy has only served to alienate their existing fans, while failing to being in enough new viewers to replace them.

I have to wonder if we will ever get to a point when *all* events will be streamed live, rather than strategically assembled and packaged for the likes of American idol (and other ‘reality-show’) fans.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not a millenial and didn't watch...

We “cut the cable tv” cord earlier this year. Sadly, we still have to get the internet from the same company, but $40 in equipment charges per month and another $50 in programming charges each month are gone.

After being reminded that the Olympics had started, I journeyed to to stream shows – WITH COMMERCIALS, which would have been fine. Except, the only way to watch beyond 30 minutes was to be a cable or satellite tv subscriber. Uh, no, we aren’t, and we won’t.

Oh, and we are boomers, not millennials.

So, for the first time in my entire life, I did not watch one minute…one second…one iota of Olympic programming because I could not figure out where to get programming (I missed the BBC connection – darn). Would I have paid $10 for unlimited access to Olympic events, both live and canned? Maybe. I like the Olympics a lot. Maybe I would have paid $15 for unlimited access without commercials. As it is, we didn’t watch, and our lives went onward. We caught the summaries on the internet, and all was just fine.

The bottom line: With the attitude of networks like NBC, network programming is doomed.

David says:


But instead, they relied on the old dying models of traditional broadcast network and revenue models of years past, and it bit them in the ass.

That’s like saying the old dying model of supplying mountain cabins with mules doesn’t work since mules just refuse to carry 5 tons like a helicopter does.

The problem is that the new models also don’t work because helicopters and their pilots don’t work for bays of hay and mules are lousy helicopter pilots.

The truth is, either old or new models would work just fine if you were willing to accept the respective boundary conditions of either.

Ever asked people at a party to turn down the volume? This works until somebody’s favorite song comes up. Then the volume goes up. And stays. Until somebody else’s favorite song comes up…

The same with greed in executives. It’s only up, whenever a new model of making money comes up.

Richard (profile) says:

USA messed up the Olympics for Europe - and then didn't bother to watch

Once again many of the prime olympic events were scheduled to suit the US viewing public – and consequently were held at between 2.00 am and 5.00am for most European countries. I was unable to watch ANY of the swimming or major athletics finals live as a consequence of this. I would have accepted this if it was done to coincide with normal timings in the host country – but no. Following the usual schedule of these events in Brazilian time would have resulted in events at 11pm-1am ish – quite maneagable to stay up for.

Now I discover that, having made the Olympics unwatchable for much of the rest of the world, the US didn’t even bother to watch it themselves. Thank you USA!!

nerdrage (profile) says:

Re: USA messed up the Olympics for Europe - and then didn't bother to watch

We’re doing our best to convince Comcrap that they have to change their ways and offer personalized Olympics coverage on an app so we can choose what we watch and when we watch it. You guys too. The internet is global. It should just be like Netflix, hand over your credit card and get just whatchoo want.

TimK (profile) says:

NBC is awful. Their coverage is awful. The volume of commercials is awful. The volume of boring background fluff pieces is awful. Everything they do is awful.

I’m not that into the Olympics but if I was bored and there was nothing on I’d TRY to watch some of it….but it was nearly impossible. SOOOOO many commercials, so many “coming up next” lies….followed by more commercials, then a 30 second clip of some athletes….then more commercials. Then I turned off the TV.

My wife who really likes to watch gymnastics even got to the point where she stopped watching because the events were long since decided, the results were everywhere online, and she didn’t want to stay up until 11pm to see an event where she already knew what happened. Maybe if they aired popular events on delay at 8pm it wouldn’t be SO bad….but to try to force people to sit through a whole night full of commercials to see what they want at 11pm is ridiculous.

We aren’t millenials. We’re 40-somethings. And we pay for cable. And we weren’t watching.

Anonymous Coward says:

Blame the millenials

That has become the narrative that senior management want to believe. Is the cause of loss of subscribers. So when some lower level executive has to explain a drop in viewers, is he going to say “too many adverts”, or “The millennial are not watching”?
This is how big corporations and bureaucracies end up lying to themselves.

Nerdrage (profile) says:

right on the money

Great analysis. I dabbled in trying to see the Olympics on the NBC app, without cable and avoiding ads (easy when you figure out how) and I did see the highlights of the best moments, but NBC made no money off me, when they could have made on the order of $20 or so if they gave me the option to select the teams, sports and athletes I wanted to follow, minus the commentary, backstories and ads. Sooner or later, they will be dragged kicking and screaming into the future.

Whatever (profile) says:

The Rio games were pretty much FUBAR from the start. A county that couldn’t afford the games, a people who didn’t want the games, and a bunch of doped out, blood packing althletes will big sponsorship contracts pretty much all adds up to a great big “ho hum” from many people.

NBC may be right, Millennials probably tuned out even more, unhappy with the delivery methods and amount of commercials, and with an attention span honed by the internet, they just never showed.

I can say that for the first time since the Olympics was in my home town, I didn’t watch a single thing, not a moment, not a peep. I saw some news stories and read some headlines, but otherwise, the Olympics slid past like that car going 3 mph faster than you on the interstate. Didn’t care that they were coming, didn’t care while they are here, and certainly not worried now they are gone.

Sadiq Mohamed (profile) says:

Olympic coverage

Here in the UK, the BBC had almost continuous live coverage on two digital terrestrial channels, plus 8 (yes EIGHT) streaming channels (via the Red Button feature). the opening and closing ceremonies were covered in full, live. Most of the medal ceremonies were also live. Sports were covered EVEN IF THERE WERE NO BRITS INVOLVED! Michael Jordan was one of the athletics commentators for the BBC and he remarked several times on the friends tweeking him about the lack of proper coverage in the US.

Most of the BBC coverage, including the streams, was in HD. There was one streaming channel dedicated to highlights and catchup. In addition the BBC websites sports pages had a dedicated Olympics section with links to the on-line streams.

On one evening because of weather and other factors a couple of races, including one with Usain Bolt was delayed. The coverage on the main BBC One channel stayed with it live, and the main evening news was delayed for ONE AND A HALF HOURS! This was in “Prime Time”, the news was scheduled for 10pm and eventually went out after 11:30pm. audience figures suggest that although the audience did dip, it was not by much.

So shame on you Comcast and NBC for being idiots. Is this what a TV system should be in a so-called “free market economy”?

Anon Coward says:

I Tivo Olympics, my kid streams a video game tournament

I Tivo’d the Olympics off my antenna.

Meanwhile, my kid was glued to a streaming broadcast of a multi-million dollar world-wide professional VIDEO GAME tournament. I was stunned. There was an ironic panel of bloviators behind a big Sportscenter-style desk. My kid was laughing his butt off–“oh Dad, you’d have to know about the feud between so-and-so and their hats.” Ask your kid about hats.

To my kid, this is sport–the exact same game he plays, only with a dozen world-class players and a million-dollar purse. At one point I ask about an interview and learn that the expert was never a great player, but established a reputation for explaining the game “mechanics” to others. Ask your kid about game mechanics and balancing.

Meanwhile, this old fart watches team volleyball and cycling because I played it in ancient Greece and enjoy seeing it done right.

As others here have noted, once the US lost, coverage ended. I would have appreciated more fencing, table tennis and badminton. Instead, we get coverage of shot-put foot-faults and endless talk about running.

Anonymous Coward says:

The O(censored for copyright infringement and trademark violation)? I don’t know if I still can legally watch O(censored for copyright infringement and trademark violation) and discuss the games with my friends. After all, O(censored for copyright infringement and trademark violation) are the time to celebrate, and IO(censored for copyright infringement and trademark violation)C warned everybody not to monetize it, as it apparently does not like to competition.

I’m waiting for IO(censored for copyright infringement and trademark violation)C finally securing the O(censored for copyright infringement and trademark violation) so completely no-one is able to watch it.Then they’ll finally be able to rest assured it is theirs and theirs alone. Their Presssssssssious.

James says:

Olympics are a huge waste of money and time

The Olympics used to be free on TV and they showed events live.

Now, it is a commercial-fest with annoying commentators talking the whole time. Seems like everyone is taking illegal performance drugs, and the Olympic venues are quickly abandoned and left to corrode as a painful reminder of all that money wasted.

Olympics are a corrupt, stale, and boring affair that benefits only a tiny percentage of those countries that can afford to train their athletes.

No thank you, I will be playing Elder Scrolls Online instead.

Anonymous Coward says:

I tried to do it legitly for these Olympics. We went through the NBC streaming, only to be blocked by cable requirements. A friend that was over put in his info to be able to watch, only to be sick of it within an hour of watching due to the insufferable amounts of commercials.

At this point, I just said fuck it, pulled up my list of VPNs and tunneled over to London to get the BBC streams. These were amazing with little to no commercials during events, though we were still a bit limited on what we could watch events wise.

Then I pulled out a fresh list of IPTV streams and was able to watch all the channels I wanted at 1080p from all over the world and we were able to catch all kinds of events that we didn’t even know about since NBC pretty much only streamed events that the US was competing in.

Moral of the story? When your viewers find it easier to go through hoops and break the law to view your content, you’re doing something wrong.

Johann Wilkerson says:

Executive Leadership

What I cannot fathom, is how a corporation whose executive leadership says “we see our market moving away from our product, we see the direction they are headed, and we have tools to easily position ourselves there, buuuuuut … we feel that we should stay the course.” can reasonably retain that leadership.
Seriously, the board should just wipe it’s O-level ass.

PaulT (profile) says:

““If that happens, my prediction would be that millennials had been in a Facebook bubble or a Snapchat bubble and the Olympics have come, and they didn’t know it.””

I’m a little late commenting on this (I was in a film festival bubble), but how ignorant do you have to be of what those services actually do? They’re primarily used for people to share information with each other about things that interest them.

In other words, people using Facebook and Snapchat were not unaware of the games being on. Anyone remotely interested were using those services to talk about them. Which may have been their only option in cases where the US streams were delayed (forcing people to talk about the games with people outside the US) or where ad breaks were causing them to miss important live details.

Now, it’s true that many would have been using those services instead of looking for an NBC stream, but the idea that people would have been ignorant of the games themselves is laughable. I can understand the concern about people using those services instead of passively watching whatever NBC finds most profitable, but he might wish to address how those services are actually used in reality.

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