Live Coverage of the Olympics?

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A lot has been and still is been written about NBCs practice of tape delaying all the major events from the London Olympics, as they have also done in past Olympics. All one needs to do is follow #NBC on Twitter to read the comments coming from superstars like Dirk Nowitzki to venture capitalists and other popular blogs.

The bottom line is obvious: we can all complain as much as we want but it is about the “bottom line” and after NBC paid $1.2B or something like that for the rights to the Olympics they have to protect it with prime time viewing and prime dollars from advertisers. Doubt any executive could or would have done anything different.

However, the price NBC paid will probably hurt them in the long run. It is a flawed model and one that all the talented executives that negotiated these mega contracts with the IOC simply did not know how to do in a different way.

I read comments that state that only 8% of Americans are on Twitter so they don’t really know the results until they watch the 8pm East Coast show and also read that many will just prefer not to read the results online and wait for the tape delay.

Perhaps, but in the internet era it is just so wrong. I truly wonder how many viewers do not know the result of the 4*100 swim relay that took place several hours ago and that NBC will show in about one or two hours from now…

One thing I am certain of: in the long run this contract will hurt NBC. I can’t see this happening in Rio2016 (the next summer games) or even in Sochi2014 (the next winter games).

TVs will all have internet build in them. Everyone will know the result and the ability to “delete” all videos of the events will not work nor will the ability to prevent live viewing from other sources. I watched the entire opening ceremony Friday afternoon after a two minute search online (I hope the site I used wont give my laptop a virus but it seemed quite legit and the broadcast was a great quality broadcast from BBC One).

In the bigger picture what is happening is not so different from what the VoIP industry did to traditional telecom in just less than 15 years. In 1997 through 1999 no one at AT&T, MCI or Bell Atlantic expected VoIP would do what it did to this mighty industry. In 2000 Lucent Technologies, Nortel and Alcatel still sold billions of dollars worth of switches (and the above mentioned carriers paid nicely for them). I don’t need to write what happened to these companies. OK I am not saying the IOC will end up like Lucent (a company I was once a very proud employee of) and also not that NBC will end up like MCI but big changes are going to happen.

We already watch TV in a different way  than we used to with most shows set to record by our DVRs. We already skip ads and I think the ad revenues for NBC in two and four years must hurt. I am hardly an ad expert and did not do any major research to back this up but I assume the Comcast executives that bought NBC are working on something different.

Most important, I can’t believe that in the United States in 2012 we are the only place in the modern world where we can’t see Olympic events live. Can’t see that continuing.


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