NBC coughed up more than $1 billion to air these 2012 Summer Olympics and it's going to squeeze every last revenue dollar out of its investment. That means constant tape delays, tons of commercials, overly creative editing, and jingoism galore. (And you can probably forget about seeing anything interesting live again after yesterday's scandalous Boobgate episode.) In fact, NBC is tape-delaying our Olympic-loving asses right to the bank, so much so that it actually doesn't think it'll lose $100 million on the Games, thanks to stronger-than-expected ratings. (Yes, it's our own fault for tuning in. Of course it is.)
But the other part of NBC's plan for Olympic dominance was relying on the ubiquitous, always-on live-streams it promised through its apps and NBCOlympics.com. As for how successful those aspects of the strategy have been, either no one knows yet (which seems unlikely) or they're purposely refusing to say. We've already shown how easy it is for Americans to circumvent NBC's stranglehold on domestic broadcasts, but it also could be that people aren't interested in having to authenticate themselves through a website in order to use a free service. That's because when you make something harder to do, people are usually less likely to do it. Go figure!
Here's Adweek's take on the silence coming out of 30 Rock:
It's ... shocking how little data has been released on how many folks are bothering to stream the games. Is the Web more trackable than TV?
NBC appears to have responded to the digital echo chamber with an 'I'm sorry, but we can't hear you over the sound of our cash registers,' response, perhaps predictable-even understandable-for a large media conglomerate where the primary mission is to make money. But perhaps a better way to silence critics would be to release some figures detailing just how successful NBC's digital platform has been...unless, of course, the numbers aren't as rosy as they'd hoped.
The New York Times did report a handful of early numbers on Monday: NBC recorded 7 million streams on Saturday, though no word on the number of unique viewers. It remains puzzling why NBC hasn't said more (NBCOlympics.com site views, video views, time on site, etc) given how painstakingly the company collects and tracks its data. Even more odd-comScore and Nielsen aren't reporting any traffic numbers either. Why are the digital media industries leading third party researchers remaining silent?
Despite the fact that I've been a cable subscriber in good standing for some 10 years, I've yet been able to access the NBC live-streams for the mere fact I have a podunk cable provider in Northern California and therefore forced (by NBC) to "authenticate" myself through some shitty, Geocities-looking, third-party site called WatchTVEverywhere.com, which refuses to accept my account credentials. It's frustrating and (even more importantly) unnecessary for such measures, considering the myriad other options available. And those who have been able to access the streams often report buffering, constant freezing, or outright inability to maintain a consistent feed. NBC has an entire Twitter feed dedicated to trumpeting good news about its sports programming. So far, not a peep concerning anything about the popularity of its online streaming.
If you've tried accessing NBC's official live-streams, tell us about your experience. Just remember: You have options.
For a handy master schedule of every Olympic event, click here.