NBC Is (Still!) Fighting A Losing Battle With Olympics Coverage

ski jump olympics winter

Olympic fans will once again tune in to watch the Opening Ceremony of the 21st Winter Games in Vancouver tonight, starting at 7:30 p.m.

But once again, lots of Americans are missing the best parts.

NBC has exclusive rights to the games in the United States and the network.

They are continuing with a strategy they have had for years: Air a handful events live on the East Coast, with a three-hour delay for the West and save popular games, like figure skating, for a packaged, prime-time block.

NBC is airing 400 hours of live competition coverage online and more than 1,000 hours of full-event replays on NBCOlympics.com. But viewers will inevitably want more.

Last year’s NBC’s decision to delay the opening ceremony broadcast by 12 hours sent viewers to their computers and find foreign broadcaster feed and YouTube videos. That sent NBC chasing after sites trying to snuff them out, according to the New York Times.

NBC wants to keep their prime time coverage so advertisers will sign on, and certainly those online dollars aren’t catching up to on-air ones.

But if they want to avoid the same game this year, NBC might want to take some advice we have them last year on how to fix the Olympics:

  • Make NBCOlympics.com a comprehensive schedule of each day’s events, with a link to a live video feed of each. All events. 100% coverage. Searchable by day or by event with a simple toggle. For events that NBC itself is not covering, the link could go to a partner company’s video. In exchange, NBC could give partners access to its own video. Note that NBC currently comes at its Olympics schedule from exactly the opposite direction–by starting with the NBC networks and then describing what each will show on any given day and time. Hate to break it to NBC, but viewers couldn’t care less which network they watch on. They just want to know how/where to watch the events they want to watch. So this thinking should be inverted.
  • Note when the live feed is/was also available on TV and where/when. If it’s on TV, most folks would prefer to watch it there, as long as it’s not cluttered with ads and crappy commentary. If TV is still more profitable than online (it is), NBC should encourage web viewers to turn on their TVs. Or, better yet, watch both simultaneously.
  • Make NBCOlympics a wikipedia-style start-page for games, athletes, news, blogs, stats, betting, etc. This instead of the me-too “Olympics” destination it is now.

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