With 100 days to go until it all kicks off, NBC has taken the wraps off its London 2012 Olympics website in order to build hype ahead of the event. With the unveiling came some good news: that the U.S. network has finally seen the error of its ways and reversed a stupid decision it made for Beijing 2008.
NBC was heavily criticized for its coverage of the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
It began with the opening ceremony, which NBC decided to show 12 hours after it happened in order to grab the most number of viewers and best ad revenue. Not everyone wanted to wait, however, and they ventured online to see the spectacular as it happened instead.
Then came the issue of ‘bottling up’ certain key events, effectively refusing to stream them live online in order to save them for TV viewers. This meant Usain Bolt breaking the 100m World Record wasn’t seen until hours after it had happened. Fans expressed their disappointment at the strategy.
NBC has reversed its decision from four years ago, promising to air all sports and events live online as they happen. Rick Cordella, vice president and general manager of NBC Sports Digital Media, accepted the anger of fans, and told The New York Times:
“Whatever is on schedule that day, if cameras are on it, we’ll stream it.”
He went on to say:
“The way consumers consume video has changed over the years. We can’t go back with hindsight and say we were wrong. We’re not scared of cannibalization. Anytime you have a great event that happens before it shows on the air, it increases ratings and generates buzz.”
That really does suggest a change of mindset at NBC. It shows the network now understands that you cannot stop people watching what they want when they want these days, so it’s much better they watch it with you rather than elsewhere.
Immediately after Beijing 2008 I wrote an article suggesting there were some big lessons to be learned for the future, and it seems NBC has taken at least some of those lessons on board. While I’m not a big sports fan it will be good to have the option of watching the whole of London 2012 online in some form or another.