NBC just finished broadcasting the Olympics online with Microsoft’s Silverlight video technology, but the network and the NFL will use Adobe’s Flash for live streaming of Sunday Night Football this fall, and started tonight with the season opener between the NY Giants and the Washington Redskins.
The Olympics online were a joint production between NBC and Microsoft, and an opportunity for Microsoft to build a user base for Silverlight, its new media player. But Flash has a much larger installed base: Adobe says it’s installed on 98% of Internet-connected desktops, and is pretty much the standard for all mainstream Web video. Microsoft, meanwhile, said that during the Olympics, 40 million US to visitors NBCOlympics.com didn’t yet have Silverlight installed.
In addition to the live games, “Sunday Night Football Extra” on NFL.com and NBCSports.com gets alternative camera angles, highlights, live statistics, and blogs. We gave it a try and there were some hiccups. Inititally, we couldn’t get the live stream, and were told we had been placed in a queue “due to overwhelming demand.”
Once the video began, it was pixelated and jumpy, and there’s no full-screen mode. But there were some cool features, such as a “star cam” trained on individual players like Fred Smoot and Plaxico Burress.
We were asked to watch a Sprint pre-roll ad to get to the video, and there were a few online ads within the broadcast, but not nearly as many as on TV. In fact, during most TV ad breaks, online viewers were sent to the NFL network studio for recaps of other games, which is nice but perhaps a sign advertising for the Webcast wasn’t sold out.
There are 17 Sunday night games over the course of the season, and it will be interesting to see how online audiences compare to another 17-day event: The Olympics.
Update: To be clear, we are not saying that NBC “dumped” or “ditched” Silverlight for Flash — as others have suggested. We’ve updated the text a bit to clarify that. And as industry analyst Dan Rayburn notes, the NFL — not NBC — made the technology decision.
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