NBC Proud That It Made It More Difficult For People To Watch The Olympics

from the really-didn't-think-this-through dept

We've already explained how screwed up NBC's Olympic coverage policy on the web turned out to be. Its use of proprietary technology and annoying restriction severely limited its online audience -- even though the company admitted that its own research found that the more people watched online, the more they watched it on TV as well. So, given all that, you have to wonder why NBC Universal's Rick Cotton is somehow claiming a "victory" in preventing other sites from showing Olympics coverage. After all, his own company admitted that online viewing didn't cannibalize TV viewing, but only encouraged more of it. By that measure, Cotton's efforts to prevent clips of the Olympics being shared elsewhere on the web actually shrunk NBC's audience. Yet, according to Cotton: "It was a great, great success." Then again, this is the same Rick Cotton who once tried to convince Congress that it had to stop movie piracy to help poor corn farmers and claimed that no one at NBC Universal could come up with a working business model for TV content without government help, so logic might not be a strong point.

Filed Under: olympics, piracy, rick cotton, web video
Companies: nbc universal


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2008 @ 3:00pm

    Um... What?

    So, I am a bit confused. How were the Olympics difficult to watch?

    Was it because you needed silver light? Because you needed to wait an hour after prime time coverage for your event to stream? Because they limited their audience by successfully stopping the span over to YouTube? Come on now... Seriously...

    I am happy they used Silver Light. Like it or not, it is a good technology for delivering media. The quality you get out of it is fantastic, and not only that, it scales far better for various internet connections. Yes, for those browsers that don't support Silver Light, they are limited. However, not severely limited as this article implies.

    The online streams didn't include the audio, sadly. Which I think helped to encourage TV watching. That, and for events people were able to catch on TV, it makes sense to do so. Who wants to watch Michael Phelps win 8 gold medals on a 22" monitor, when you can step into your living room and watch him do it on much bigger (and likely higher quality) television - with commentary! Again, for those who can watch on a TV, it makes sense.

    The other post that this one links too, says 93% of the Olympics was made up of TV watching. That means online watching accounts for what? 7%? That seems pretty high to me. Yeah, it doesn't compare to YouTube, but of course it won't. You have to compare apples to apples. YouTube is cemented into the online community, and is used for virtually every type of footage you can imagine. No video site can compete with YouTube, why would anyone expect NBC to even hold a candle to them - especially on a single event?

    ...Even then, you can find plenty of Olympic 2008 vids ("2008 Olmpyics yields over 65,000 results") on YouTube. Many of them bearing the NBC logo. Seems to me, they did get some extra exposure.

    So, in conclusion, I fail to see how these Olympics were severely limited and difficult to watch. I watched more Olympics this year than I have in any other year. I streamed at work, in coffee shops, and got text message alerts when I was camping! At home and at the gym I watched it on TV... Not only that, when you consider the mass of people that use Windows+IE and are capable of installing silver light, I can't see that as even a large limitation.

    NBC may be proud that they prevented the streams from going elsewhere online, which I'll admit is dumb in some ways, but truthfully I think they did a fair job all around. More live events, commentary, and a more user friendly website would be things to improve on in my opinion.

    They were the first to try this with the Olympics, and they had to build a whole new infrastructure for it. Given how it could have gone down, I'm pleased.

    Cheers.

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