27 Comments

Summary:

Frustration with a lack of access, editing and the overall confusion about who can see what of the Olympics shows how frustrated consumers are about our outdated TV, but NBC has paid $1.18 billion to broadcast the games. Who is the consumer here?

Once again, NBC is irritating the heck out of millions of Americans by messing around with the Olympics. Once again, the decision to show the opening ceremony in prime time via a time delay has resulted in people accusing NBC of “not getting it,” and of thinking “it’s 1992.” Once again, the decision to edit the games has some sports fans irked about cuts NBC made in the opening ceremony.

And once again, U.S. consumers don’t get it. Sure, people are frustrated because they can’t easily stream the Olympics online without a cable subscription, and there will always be sports fans who don’t want the edited version of The Games with the life stories on athletes and dramatic cuts. But frankly, for now, NBC doesn’t really care what those people want.

NBC paid $1.18 billion for the right to broadcast the Olympics and it will be a cold day in hell before it dilutes the amount it can charge advertisers or the value it has to cable providers. In many ways, even though NBC depends on huge audiences to justify the rates it’s charging advertisers, it can afford to alienate some of them. And it’s worth noting that there are probably millions of happy families who watched the opening ceremony last night and had little idea it could be any other way.

In the U.S., people who want to stream are a highly vocal minority, but it’s a minority that is growing. And while NBC may not care that I — as one of the between 3.6 or 9 million cord cutters — couldn’t authenticate to see the opening ceremony via the web or streaming, maybe someone should.

NBC broadcast an edited and time-delayed version of the opening ceremony last night over the air, but I couldn’t see that either. I can’t get over-the-air TV since the switch from analog to digital TV signals in 2009, because my home just doesn’t seem to be in the right location. Even satellites don’t work. The only way I could watch NBC’s broadcast of the ceremony was if I paid for cable, but that’s not something I want to do just to watch a once-every-two-year event. And anyway, I shouldn’t have to buy cable to see the opening ceremony, since NBC is using the public airwaves for free to deliver broadcast TV. Glenn Fleishman via Twitter suggested that the FCC ought to investigate this, and maybe it should.

But really what I think needs to occur is a realization that until the business models right themselves in the TV industry, consumers, especially cord cutters, are going to get screwed out of some content. It’s not “fair,” but as the population of people who demand streaming grows, and they in turn are seen a valuable demographic to advertisers, then perhaps the next Summer Games will give consumers more of what they want, where and when they want it.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock user Padmayogini
.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. James Thornton Robinson Saturday, July 28, 2012

    Stacy, I agree with you fully. I have not had a TV hooked up to cable or over-the-air TV for over 2 years now. It was always the model of the Olympics to be open and inclusive of everyone since it is a major global event (unlike others like the NFL which was has always been commercialized) that was to be available to everyone. The fact that NBC has locked out any non-cable-subscribers is ridiculous. I would have even been willing to pay a one-time fee to cover the cost of streaming the Olympics. So instead of millions from advertisers, cable companies, and probably a few hundred thousand from non-cable-subscribers they choose the old-hat way that obviously goes against the spirit of the Olympic Games. I certainly hope NBC included the lack of a reasonable pay as you view or a one time “Watch the Olympics with the rest of us” fee and the negative long-term PR by the people they shoved out in it’s opportunity cost calculations.

    1. First they cancel “Chuck” and now they screw up the Olympics?!

      NBC can suck it.

    2. like Alexander explained I am surprised that any one able to make $4367 in a few weeks on the internet. did you look at this link(Click on menu Home more information) http://goo.gl/FVQmy

      1. Stop posting ads!

      2. Don’t post ads!

  2. Holden Caulfield Saturday, July 28, 2012

    Your comments are certainly relevant. However, I am currently streaming Women’s fencing live over my iPad for “free” using a free app.

    If I was a cable subscriber with no interest in the Olympics, then why should I have to bear the cost of streaming them to a minority?

    I realize you aren’t being served in your demographic, however, I am, and I am enjoying every minute of it.

    One day we can all dream of a la carte services, and paying only for what we personally desire to watch.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

    1. Did you enjoy every minute of the opening ceremony? NBC blocked it even though I pay my cable fee and then, to add insult to injury, they censored it cutting out bits like the 7/7 memorial sequence.

      Could you imagine what the reaction would be like if the BBC cut out all references to a 9/11 memorial from a worldwide television broadcast coming from America?

      Shame on the BBC.

    2. huh? Your logic is strange… if not completely off. It’s not about the cable subscribers bearing the cost for online users to have access. It’s about NBC missing a huge opportunity to rake in money using a pay-to-view package for ONLINE users because, you know, that’s where everything and almost everyone can be found these days. A simple fee in exchange for their service. Easy. Ex. NCAA tournament. Congrats on your outdated Ipad btw, maybe a new one will come out next month… I wonder how many things you are paying for that you don’t need or use on that thing? demographics LAWL

    3. What iPad app are you using?

  3. markleiser.phd.law Saturday, July 28, 2012

    Reblogged this on #Hashtag – Thoughts on Law, Technology, the Internet, and Social Media and commented:
    Even the Olympics, can’t budge our outdated TV models.

    Frustration with a lack of access, editing and the overall confusion about who can see what of the Olympics shows how frustrated consumers are about our outdated TV, but NBC has paid $1.18 billion to broadcast the games. Who is the consumer here?

  4. UK gets free video on BBC, but it’s blocked for US viewers!!! I’m sure NBC is getting some money from cable companies to do it this way

  5. Excellent post and maddening to know NBC has its head in the sand (or up its …) with regard to what consumers really want. It’s the old legacy broadcast model mentality that says, we decide what you want, not you. We should all hit them hard on Twitter and send their sentiment analysis off the charts

  6. Zachary Tirrell Saturday, July 28, 2012

    I have Dish Network. I pay to get NBC (and inadvertently CNBC), but I do not get MSNBC. Since I don’t have the trifecta… no online streaming of any Olympics content for me either. That is just plain dumb.

  7. I have two forms of delivery: 1) Over the Air HDTV and 2) Streaming content. I understand that NBC bid for this Olympics when the business model supported cable/satellite subscriptions.

    I watched the opening ceremonies on the local broadcast and the only issue that caused me to turn it off was the inability to mute the inane commentary and skip the boring parts. I can accept commercials on an ATSC broadcast, but after years of nonlinear viewing, it is the ability to \”find\” the content in the rough that is most important.

    We all know NBC and the major media outlets do not get it, so why complain when they drop the ball on the opening ceremonies for 2012.The Olympics are once every four years, but every day ESPN and Disney show that they have minimal understanding of the online potential for direct subscriptions. I pay $80 per month in subscriber fees to the following (Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Fox Soccer, MLB, MLS and more). I will gladly pay $20 per month for ESPN and ESPN2.

    At the end of the day, NBC is doing a fine job of providing access to the first online driven Olympics. I saw yesterday that they had multiple Batmitton (spelling? Who cares?) matches being streamed. We all find ways to the content. But, it would be nice to not have the browser crash every 15 minutes.

    Thanks NBC for a decent attempt at a mobile Olympics. I give it a 7.0, while the East German judge gives it a 2.0.

  8. They’ll sort it out eventually (maybe in 4 years?). They have to: my kids, ages 9-15 don’t watch anything real time. Nor do they watch much on the big screen TV except streamed content. It’s all time shifted, on the iPad, computer, phone, and on demand. So we don’t have cable or satellite anymore. No one used it. No one cares it’s gone. Sad thing is, though everyone in my household is an active athlete and we even have local kids competing in London, no one cares about the Olympics either. Once again we’re shown that the medium is the message. Once the Olympics gets this and hopefully NBC execs will get it, form and format will adapt to the new expectations for consuming content.

  9. Jeff McMenamin Sunday, July 29, 2012

    Come on, Barry. Get Aereo up and running in more markets!

  10. I don’t own a tv, so I can’t watch the olympics. My cable company (Time Warner) won’t hook me up because I don’t own a tv.

Comments have been disabled for this post