NBC paid almost $1 billion to have the exclusive rights for television and video coverage of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in the U.S. But it seems that it is still losing the battle for viewers with Yahoo.
NBC spent the run-up to the Olympics in China talking up its extensive coverage of the Games.
And with over 2,200 hours of footage being made available online, it certainly had a right to brag.
Technical Issues Galore
Unfortunately, there have been technical limitations and issues surrounding the online coverage. This means viewers not only need to have Vista to watch any footage, but also have no firewall installed on their PC.
Broadcast delays to stop any loss of viewers and advertising from traditional TV have also affected Web viewer numbers, with many finding alternative (and often illegal) methods of watching their favourite event.
Even when viewers do get the chance to watch coverage of the Games on NBC’s site, they are often faced with footage without any kind of commentary, poor quality video, or even an event location but no action taking place.
Yahoo Sports Win
The company is doing fantastically well in terms of television coverage, but the online portion of its offerings has told a different story.
Yahoo Sports dedicated Olympic website has actually achieved better visitor numbers so far than NBC has. Over the first three days of the Olympics, Yahoo managed 1.3 million more visitors than NBC’s site did.
NBC is far from unhappy though, with Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics telling Wired:
“These record numbers validate our multiplatform strategy. They drive viewers to share in the Olympic experience on network television in record numbers.”
“And as a result of this unprecedented digital effort, consumers have a destination to watch thousands of hours of video and relive the great moments of these Olympics.”
Lessons For The Future
NBC is probably happy because in terms of its priorities, it has achieved what it set out to. It has fostered Web video viewers for the future while at the same time not putting its lucrative TV coverage at risk due to a conflict of interests.
London 2012 could be very different. Not only will NBC have had the chance to iron out the technical issues that have blighted this Games, but online advertising may have increased to a level to compare with that of traditional television.
- UK Users: Watch the Olympics Online at the BBC website
- U.S Users: Watch the Olympics Online at the NBC website
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