NBC Olympic Coverage Reveals Network’s Digital Dumbness
Remember that post from a couple of weeks ago, where I said NBC might be the first traditional U.S. TV network to decommission itself? When I wrote that I didn’t expect additional evidence to arrive so quickly. But the online razzing that’s being given NBC for their bone-headed scheduling of tape-delayed major Olympic events sure seems to add weight to my case.
If you haven’t seen the flaming blog posts and tweets, the story boils down to every clued-in U.S. fan of the Olympics slamming NBC for avoiding live daytime broadcast of major events (downhill skiing, snowboarding, and other fan favs are most often mentioned so far, I’m sure there will be others in the next 10 days). Instead, NBC goes to extraordinary lengths to hype its prime-time delayed replay of these events, despite the glaringly obvious fact that anyone with an internet connection or a radio knows the results. NBC even avoids revealing results on its own Olympics website for fear of diluting the prime-time audience.
NBC’s digital dumbness is in treating the U.S. audience of 2010 is just like the 1984 audience that couldn’t easily find out the results of events in Sarajevo before U.S. prime time.
Exasperated fans with a little techie skill can set up a VPN account with an off-shore VPN provider and then log in to the Canadian Olympic website that features multiple live videostreams of most of the Vancouver events. BusinessInsider has step-by-step instructions for you (you’ll need to appear as if you’re outside the U.S. because our ISPs are blocking traffic to that Canadian site to protect NBC’s exclusivity in the U.S.).
So as NBC fends off criticism that it’s “the network that’s not showing you the Olympics“, local affiliates are reaping the lower lead-in audiences that don’t include the ticked-off Olympics fans who are avoiding the packaged prime-time show. You’d think that CNBC and MSNBC could serve up daily live events and the main network could still repackage them for prime time, and the combined audiences would keep advertisers and affiliates happy. Doesn’t it make more sense in an era when the most committed viewers are seeking out live coverage? They’ll go get it somewhere else if NBC isn’t bringing it to them — and that’ll get even easier next Olympics.