by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
cannibalize, internet, olympics, tv, video

nbc universal

NBC Admits It Was Wrong To Worry About Online Olympics Watching Cannibalizing TV Viewing

from the who-woulda-thunk-it? dept

NBC Universal has a long history of totally misunderstanding the relationship between online video and TV video. Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary (including from NBC's own competitor, CBS, which was quick to point out that more online watching resulted in more TV watching), NBC has insisted that online watching somehow cannibalizes TV viewers. That explains why its online Olympics offerings are so weak -- not showing any of the really interesting stuff until many hours after its been broadcast on TV.

Amazingly, NBC execs seem to actually be admitting they made a pretty big mistake here. In going over their own research, they're finally realizing that rather than cannibalizing, people watching on either TV or online only seems to get them to watch more of the other, as it just makes them more interested in the Olympics as a whole. Of course, given how NBC has behaved in the past, don't expect it to recognize this in other parts of its business (or, say, start broadcasting stuff online before the tape delay on TV). Also, don't expect it to realize that perhaps its lawsuit against Redlasso is totally misguided, even though Redlasso helps more people see NBC content online.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2008 @ 3:36pm

    the Olympics are happening?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Moose, Aug 14th, 2008 @ 3:46pm

    Watch in Canada

    I hate how NBC restricts the viewing to the US only. I'm stuck working at my desk in Canada for 8 hours a day and would like to watch as much of the olympics as possible, even if I have to watch stupid commercials.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Alex, Aug 14th, 2008 @ 3:54pm

    Is this news?

    I remember having this exact discussion with y friends and reading about it in many publications... since the Atlanta Olympics, 12 years ago.

    Nothing here to see, move on...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    John Markel, Aug 14th, 2008 @ 3:56pm


    Our family and some friends would not watch anything on NBC regardless of what they aired.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Chris, Aug 14th, 2008 @ 4:03pm

    They finally catching a clue?

    It seems the older generation do not understand technology and how it can benefit them. It seems NBC maybe catching a clue on how online video's actually promote their programs. Maybe its time for the OLD CEO's to work with technology than against it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    dickydoo, Aug 14th, 2008 @ 6:19pm

    Re: Is this news?

    You are so full of shit! Who knew back in 1994 that the goddamn olympics would be online? IF you could have predicted that, you would be richer than Mark Cuban...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Dan, Aug 14th, 2008 @ 7:14pm

    What???? NBC made a mistake? From GE "we bring good things to light" eventually.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    stephen, Aug 14th, 2008 @ 7:15pm

    olympics online

    I haven't watched the Olympics since Sydney, when NBC delayed showing the rubber game of a women's volleyball match between the US and China for a tour of the city by Ahmad Rashad. At 1am.

    This year I've watched about 10 minutes on TV (the first Phelps race). But holy crap am I addicted to it on the web. I've watched so many sports you'd never see on TV: the individual archery, weightlifting, trap shooting and skeet, and I still want more (I just can't get into judo, wrestling, air gun, or, to my horror, table tennis and badminton). The best part is, there are no announcers to digress about inspirational narratives and other nonsense. Instead the web just has the stadium announcer and an on line commentator, who is invariably far more knowledgeable and interesting than anyone who'd be tasked to go on TV. They are also a bit more uncensored. The judge during the women's rifle finals said of the Cuban competitor and her surprising run: "I've never heard of her before. I hope she defects."

    The best announcer is the stadium announcer at the archery range who sounds like the announcer for the Westminster Kennel Show and is full of interesting comments. For instance, during the women's finals: "And with that 10, Miss Park destroys the pinhole camera in the target just as she did in 2004."

    One thing: will some please explain to me why the women archers enter for each contest to an instrumental version of the Scorpion's "Rock You Like a Hurricane"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Steve Davis, Aug 14th, 2008 @ 7:58pm


    You didn't do your research very well. NBC has actually already announced they will stream their Sunday Night NFL game on the tubes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    MadJo (profile), Aug 15th, 2008 @ 12:42am


    I thought that NBC was using the Olympics to gather metrics on viewership online... but how did they expect to get any useful metrics if they cannibalized their own online offerings?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    commonsense, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 2:28am

    limited coverage = different coverage

    Your knee jerk reaction ignores the basic and most important fact - the events available to watch online were very limited and had to buffer repeatedly. So the coverage was very different online than that available in broadcast television.
    To have an accurate comparison of one medium stealing from the other, the coverage would have to be much more similar in content and availability.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Twinrova, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 4:20am

    NBC Covers the Olympics on TV? WRONG!

    NBC doesn't cover the Olympics. Instead, it favors 2-6 minute long advertising campaigns for Corporate America. What pisses me off more is the fact it breaks during a competition simply because it can last longer than 5 minutes!

    NBC can go to hell and their stupidity over viewership habits proves they really don't care about the viewer unless they can push ads to them.

    What's interesting here is that NBC has created additional cable channels which shows specific games (such as soccer and basketball) and during these events, not a single damn commercial is ever played. EVER. Not even between matches. So if they could do it for these channels, why not it's primary channel?

    Brighthouse also included two other channels, one for Korean viewers, the others for (Mandarin) Chinese viewers. I've been watching these channels more than the NBC channel because of the VARIETY of games offered instead of just basketball, beach volleyball, gymnastics and swimming. Damn, NBC, America's won over 46 gold medals but you wouldn't know it given all you show is the same 4 damn games (making it worse is REPLAYING games in case Americans were sleeping during the real match).

    And to think NBC would think I wouldn't watch their TV based programming because of the internet.

    Assholes, you lost me because you'd rather focus on McDonald's rather than an Olympic game.

    Fix this by the time the winter games get here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    lrobbo (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 4:08pm

    And here we have it again four years on, online footage sucking big time . . .

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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