NBC Olympics Coverage Online Fails To Make Much Money | A Lesson For London 2012?

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Beijing 2008 Olympics On YouTubeThe Beijing 2008 Olympic Games have now come to an end, with a spectacular closing ceremony ending the Chinese Games and handing the torch on to London 2012. But did the online coverage of the Games live up to the hype?

Certainly the Web portion of NBC’s offerings didn’t make as much money for the company as it would have liked. But whose fault was that?

$5.75 Million Revenue?

According to The Wall Street Journal, research firm eMarketer Inc estimates that NBCOlympics.com will have generated only about $5.75 million in video advertising revenue for the American television network.

We’ve spoken about video advertising and the difficulty in monetizing Web video a lot here on Web TV Wire, and that difficulty has seemed to rear its ugly head yet again for the Olympics.

Severe Restrictions

So what did NBC do wrong? Well certainly the delivery system annoyed many potential viewers. Microsoft’s Silverlight may be technically superior to Adobe Flash but many don’t like the restrictions it places on who can and cannot watch video streams.

There was also a strictness involved in the inability to share and embed videos on external sites other than NBCOlympics.com as well, which surely must have limited the potential for picking up extra viewers (and consequently extra revenue) along the way.

Delayed Broadcasting

Then there is the obvious fact that NBC shot itself in the foot by limiting and delaying footage of some of the key Olympics events, including the opening ceremony and the 100m sprint final, until it could air on traditional TV.

There are some obvious lessons to be learnt here as the potential for Web video coverage of global events such as the Olympics and the World Cup increases over the next few years.

Lessons For The Future

The main thing would be to think of the audience as one entity rather than dividing it up so clearly between those who watch on television and those who watch on the Internet. As usual, the Web viewers were treated as second class citizens.

Hopefully NBC and the other companies eager to embrace the Web as a television delivery method will get it right for London 2012. And video advertising may have increased in popularity enormously by then also, making it a profitable venture at last.