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Summary:

NBC grows online viewership, but kills the spontaneity of live sports.

Wow, I can barely type this morning, having stayed up so late watching the Olympics on television last night. But NBC’s Jeff Zucker was on CNBC this morning crowing over his network’s success at reeling in viewers, revenues and buzz — with no regard for complaints about time delays and technical problems.

THERE’S NO QUESTION WE DID THE RIGHT THING IN HOLDING THE OPENING CEREMONY TO AIR IN PRIME TIME ON NBC THAT NIGHT. THE EXCITEMENT THAT BUILT OUT OF WORD OF MOUTH THAT THE OPENING CEREMONY WAS THE MOST SPECTACULAR THING THAT PEOPLE HAD SEEN, THAT CHINA HAD WANTED TO MAKE A STATEMENT AND THEY MADE A STATEMENT AND PEOPLE WANTED TO SEE THAT. I THINK WHAT’S BEEN GREAT WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO BOTTLE THAT EXCITEMENT SINCE THE OPENING CEREMONY AND I THINK THE TEAM HAS CAPTURED THAT IN EVERY DAY SINCE.

At this point it’s hard to say what would have happened if NBC hadn’t constrained its precious content. And experiences may vary, but we have certainly had enough trouble with the NBC/Silverlight player to drive us back to TV. It’s more of a question of what could have been.

Trust Robert Seidman at TVbytheNumbers to keep us honest, relaying the good news: 9.54 minutes per Olympics video stream viewed by the 25 million unique users who have visited the site; but don’t kid yourself, by the minutes, 99.5 percent of U.S. Olympics viewing is on television. So maybe this NBC-flogging blogosphere of ours (plus the New York Times, of course) is just sore from being on the cutting edge.

Zucker, meanwhile, has moved on with his famous pocket change metaphor from pennies to “50 cent pieces” — which doesn’t seem meant to be an ironic comment, but those coins are so rare they’re collectors’ items. At least he seems to think digital is a good thing. Here’s the quote:

ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS TO COME OUT OF THESE OLYMPIC GAMES IS THAT THE TREMENDOUS USE OF OUR DIGITAL PROPERTIES ONLINE AND THE GREAT VIEWERSHIP ONLINE AND THE TREMENDOUS NUMBER OF PAGE VIEWS IS REALLY TEACHING US A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE WANT TO CONSUME GREAT CONTENT. AND SO WE’RE GOING TO COME OUT OF THESE OLYMPICS WITH GREAT DIGITAL KNOWLEDGE AND HOPEFULLY WE’LL BE ABLE TO TURN THOSE DIGITAL PENNIES INTO DIGITAL IF NOT DOLLARS DIGITAL 50 CENT PIECES AT SOME POINT.

  1. [...] out NBCOlympics.com, and sees it as an missed opportunities, thanks to what is described as “bottled excitement.” Russell Beattie, a good friend in his typical no-bullshit style pointed out that NBC has [...]

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  2. [...] in the U.S. won’t be as big an issue, but it’s the principle. Mr. Zucker may have “bottled” excitement by delaying people’s access to action, but in an age of instant news alerts, [...]

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  3. Way to go NBC. That’s just TREMENDOUS …

    ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS TO COME OUT OF THESE OLYMPIC GAMES IS THAT THE TREMENDOUS USE OF OUR DIGITAL PROPERTIES ONLINE AND THE GREAT VIEWERSHIP ONLINE AND THE TREMENDOUS NUMBER OF PAGE VIEWS IS REALLY TEACHING US A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE WANT TO CONSUME GREAT CONTENT. AND SO WE’RE GOING TO COME OUT OF THESE OLYMPICS WITH GREAT DIGITAL KNOWLEDGE AND HOPEFULLY WE’LL BE ABLE TO TURN THOSE DIGITAL PENNIES INTO DIGITAL IF NOT DOLLARS DIGITAL 50 CENT PIECES AT SOME POINT.

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  4. [...] with the more than $1 billion the peacock pulled in on oldteevee. But with the NBC offering twice-delayed video coverage and a confusing user experience in a video format not widely prevalent, it’s [...]

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  5. [...] first: The Beijing games were something of a global coming-out party for Chinese P2P TV. Thanks to NBC’s tape delay, an untold number of Western users tried to watch the games live with P2P apps like Sopcast. And [...]

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  6. [...] conference? Book NBC CEO Jeff Zucker. Whether it’s digital pennies, digital dimes, or the bottled excitement of a tape-delayed Olympics, Zucker gives good sound bite. And yesterday was no different when he [...]

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  7. [...] and is delaying the televised and online coverage, a tactic NBC CEO Jeff Zucker is fond of (tape-delayed Olympics, [...]

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