NBC Continues To Do The Exact Wrong Thing When It Comes To The Olympics Online

from the you-can't-be-serious dept

Is it any wonder that NBC Universal keeps having trouble? If you painted them a map that explained how to clearly provide people what they wanted, the company would do the exact opposite. Two years ago, during the summer Olympics, NBC Universal severely limited online offerings. It didn't let people embed videos. It only made events that people weren't as interested in available online, and even then, would delay much of the content online. The backwards thinking here was that if they blocked the "good stuff" out and made it only on TV, it would drive people to the TV. Of course, NBC's own research showed that the more people watched online, the more they watched on TV. But, of course, by limiting access, not that many people watched online through legal channels (a lot more watched elsewhere). And, at NBC, they considered this a success. Seriously.

And to prove it, NBC Universal is apparently going to make things even worse this time around. TorrentFreak points us to a MediaWeek piece that describes NBC Universal's "plan to fight piracy," that makes so little sense it makes the whole Jay Leno fiasco look well-organized.

Rather than giving people a choice, NBC is limiting its live streaming even more. There are 300 events at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and NBC is going to stream a grand total of two of them live online: curling and hockey. And, then its spending a ton of wasted effort getting lots of other sites to try to block live streams of Olympic events. You know what would have stopped those live streams in a way that NBC could have profited from? Providing those live streams directly. What sort of company sees that there's demand for a product and then purposely decides to not offer it and to actively stop others who are trying to offer it? Wow!

NBC's explanation for all this is just as bizarre:
"One of the things we learned in Beijing is that people really go to the Web for highlights," said Perkins Miller, svp, digital media at NBC
Perhaps that's because you didn't offer much live streaming last time around, and the only events you did so on were the events no one cared about.

But, of course, the best comes from Rick "oh-those -poor-corn-farmers-decimated-by-piracy" Cotton, NBC's general counsel, who seems so fixated on "stopping piracy!!!" that he seems oblivious to the concept of providing real value:
"Our aim is to make access to pirated material inconvenient, low quality and hard to find," said Rick Cotton, NBC's evp and general counsel. In terms of Web piracy, "you are never going to go to zero. But there has been a sea change in terms of recognition of the problem."
Again, you solve the problem of people going elsewhere by giving them what they want, not purposely deciding not to give them what they want and then getting upset when they go find it elsewhere.

And you wonder why, for the first time ever, a broadcaster is expected to lose money on the Olympics?

Filed Under: olympics, streaming, web
Companies: nbc, nbc universal


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  1. identicon
    Ian Beyer, 13 Feb 2010 @ 12:15pm

    Color me unsurprised.

    I had high hopes that the 2010 olympics would be a beautiful convergence of live TV coverage and effective use of digital media for streaming the less popular events and offering additional realtime data for the events on the broadcast.

    NBC proved very quickly that they're still very much an old-media outfit, and they don't understand the web.

    If the stuff on TV consists pretty much of highlights and non-live events, why on earth would I sit through 60% of the airtime being advertising to watch what I should be able to get on the web on-demand?

    It's not just the Olympics. We're talking NBC here, the people that managed to take The Biggest Loser, which is fundamentally a one-hour show, and stretch it out to 2 hours by packing it full of long commercial breaks, and then assaulting the viewers with blatant product placement and plugs during the actual content. And then not posting the new episodes online for an entire week (when everyone else is doing it by midnight or the morning after it airs)

    The good news is that economic Darwinism will solve this problem for NBC sooner than later. No wonder GE is trying to dump it onto Comcast. They've got a dying horse on their hands, and the sooner they can get rid of it, the better off they'll be.

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