Blog Post

NBC Again Will Limit Live Olympic Broadband Coverage To Pay TV Subscribers

While Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) CEO Jeff Bewkes has been talking up TV Everywhere, NBC (NYSE: GE) quietly has been planning once again to limit live broadband viewing of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver to pay TV subscribers — but with tougher authentication. Live streaming will be offered to cable, satellite and telecom multichannel subscribers whose distributors agree to a deal with NBC Universal; last summer, Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) subs were blocked because the Long Island operator didn’t sign on. Sports Business Journal reported the plan and we have confirmed it. NBC had no comment.

Only one-fifth of the broadband video delivered for the Beijing Olympics was live, probably both because of the limitations and a decision to keep high-interest events like swimming and gymnastics for live TV.

NBC Universal’s cable networks have played a vital role in the GE unit’s Olympic strategy, which spreads live and tape-delayed content across its various networks and At the same time, cable operators have raised concerns about paying for channels when viewers can see the same content online, while programmers have been looking for ways to make content available across platforms without cannibalizing license fees. One batch of solutions includes making more cable programming available online but only to multichannel subscribers. Every solution involves some form of authentication that proves a user is a subscriber of an affiliated distributor — Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA), Cox, AT&T (NYSE: T) U-Verse, DirecTV (NYSE: DTV), etc.

As SBJ’s John Ourand explains it, NBC’s authentication system, scheduled for testing this summer, “is designed to match internet users to their cable company based on the consumers

4 Responses to “NBC Again Will Limit Live Olympic Broadband Coverage To Pay TV Subscribers”

  1. Staci D. Kramer

    I think the time issue is a fair argument for marquee events but don't underestimate the niche pull. The potential of Olympics broadband, to me, is much less about the "big" moments then it is about the ability to let people see the sports and the sessions that don't get that kind of primetime attention.

  2. nothingagainstwintersports

    …eh. Seems to me this will be a non-issue for Winter '10: Beijing is what, 12 hours ahead? Vancouver = Pacific…3 hours earlier than east coast. I'd bet most events would be airing live in primetime….and nothing against alpine etc. (okay, figure skating fans may rival gymnastics fans) there's no Phelps/swimming drama…no NBA players…hard to imagine much if any desire for 'live' webcasts for this one…imho.

  3. With fan unfriendly business models as this, it is time to begin the death march for Olympic (and many other sports programming). Why are these media companies so blind to the changing world of content availability.

    Pro Boxing went this route, beginning most notably (at least in my memory) with Ali vs. Frazier I. Then it was close circuit television, by passing broadcast TV. The sport began a down turn, to where not even avid sports Fans could name the the top contenders, or even worse, the World Champion, which was once the most well know, popular, and highly sought after title in the world.

    Shortly, sites like Hulo, or something similar, will provide 1000 times current content, seamlessly, and free, or near free, so fragmenting viewers attention, their may be an Olympics but who will watch?

    Three Olympics from now, will anyone bother to watch?


  4. Oh, YIPPIE

    it's time to fire the BRIANIACS of NBC Universal.

    They spend 90 trillion bucks on the rights to a heavily tainted event and adopt a lead in foot strategy that didn't even need to import the lead from China this time.

    Bury Calgary completely in America. The gods of Olympus are hurling.