Is It Too Early To Declare NBC’s Online Olympic Coverage A Failure?

Aug 11th, 2008 | By | Category: General, Internet TV, Video

Last week, while we were wondering whether NBC risked losing the online audience with all the barriers it puts in front of people wanting to watch the Olympics, everybody else seemed to be worried that NBC’s Olympic coverage might melt the Internet.

Three days into the Olympics, the Internet hasn’t melted and it’s starting to look like NBC’s Olympic traffic is pretty ho-hum

For the first two days of coverage, NBC Online averaged about 3.3 million video streams.

3.3 millions streams sounds like a lot, until you consider that YouTube streams nearly 50 times that many videos every day.

In other words, NBC’s online coverage of the Olympics is getting whipped by the likes of “Sneezing Panda”:

Why isn’t NBC’s online coverage doing better than this?

NewTeeVee’s Chris Albrecht says NBC’s online Olympic coverage “sucks”, adding “I tried watching these Olympics online at different points throughout the weekend and just gave up.”

There’s more to it than that, though. NBC’s online coverage plays second fiddle to their television coverage, and they’ve put up too many barriers to those wanting to watch online.

Beyond that, NBC hasn’t done much to grab the attention of the Internet television audience. A lot of people now do most of their video viewing online, and NBC just isn’t where people’s attention is moving. If you want to watch the Olympics on your favorite Internet video site, on your iPod or your phone, you either can’t do it or you’ll have Olympic-sized hurdles to jump.

NBC says that its online coverage is driving people to its traditional TV coverage – but it appears to be losing the online audience in the process.


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No Responses to “Is It Too Early To Declare NBC’s Online Olympic Coverage A Failure?”

  1. Its only the Olympics.

    Its far, far away, (like in China for pete’s sake. [And we’re not sure about how we feel about the Chinese.])

    Basically, we have plenty of reasons not to give a fart about the Olympics.

  2. Ed Roberts says:

    Wow. I certainly wouldn’t call it a failure. While there ARE barriers to entry (I actually blogged about one), I think the online offerings have been very good. High quality and rock solid. The biggest problem I see is that NBC never mentions they have devoted live streams for internet coverage. We know all to well that you can create awesome content online, but if you fail to market it, you aren’t going to do very well. Combine this with the fact that this live coverage happens overnight because of the time difference, and no… it’s not going to be stellar. If the Olympics where closer to home when people could actually watch without looking weeks of sleep, then I’d think 3.3 million a day would be weak.

    I still believe that the biggest problem we have with online (or online anything) in mainstream media is that it is considered a secondary place of publication. Until major media organizations start to treat online media as equal to their traditional offerings, we aren’t going to see a shift. Add the digital divide into that equation, and you’ll see that we have a long way to go.

    Also… you need to be careful about comparisons to YouTube. Not only do they offer their “stream” 24 hours, have a much larger range of topics, and draw a larger international audience, they also don’t have live television coverage that accounts for 95% of your total viewership.

  3. taniaelis says:

    The Olympics aren’t a big deal to me this year. I get most of my video online, and I don’t want to jump through a bunch of hoops to do it.

    YouTube’s a no-brainer, so why would any company make it harder than that?

  4. X says:

    This coverage is terrible. For one, I’m sick of these commentators going on and on about inane nonsense during a routine/race. Let us watch the competition, and kindly stfu already. Secondly, when there is relevent discussion, it seems to praise any and everything that the Chinese do, and comes across rather harsh on our own American athletes. Finally, NBC has done a horrible job of organizing the events. I can’t find anywhere that says when they will cover a certain event. Sure, there is the Beijing schedule, but when I get home from work, I want to watch swimming without wondering whether or not I have to suffer through hours of Chinese cock slathering and American dissing in gymnastics.

  5. Brian says:

    “For the first two days of coverage, NBC Online averaged about 3.3 million video streams.

    3.3 millions streams sounds like a lot, until you consider that YouTube streams nearly 50 times that many videos every day.”

    I understand what you’re trying to say, but YouTube also has more than 50 times the videos to stream than NBC does of the olympics. You’d have to break it down to the average number of downloads per video perhaps to get a better idea on how it stacks up.

  6. Dave says:

    I have a Powerbook G4 at home and a desktop G5 at work and I don’t have the option of watching the olympic video on either of my machines. This especially sucks because wrestling is my sport and God forbid they show anything other than swimming, gymnastics or basketball (next week it’ll be all track) at an hour suitable for human beings to watch it. I guess that’s what happens when you partner with Microsoft. Good work NBC.

  7. Jazztiger says:

    NBC’s internet coverage has not shown any boxing. I’m a boxing fan and I know that it’s violent. Rifle contests are shown. I attended a 19 year old’s gun death funeral a few weeks ago. Never attended a boxing death funeral. When guns are controled then censor boxing. NBC’s online coverage is great. I am really enjoying it. I watched the women’s gymnastics finals. That was just awesome. Watched some basketball, that was fantastic. Let’s watch boxing. Thanks!

  8. Mitchell says:

    NBC sucks – all they show is swimming and a lot of it is heats and doesnt count anyway – NBC get your act together – I wish ABC or Fox or even CBS had the coverage they would do a much better job.

  9. HighwayHome says:

    NBC is only out to grab the ad dollars and spread their jingoistic propaganda. By watching their lousy coverage, you’d think the USA was the only nation competing. I just watched the Men’s 100M track & field final LIVE up here in little ole Canada on the CBC Network. Guess what? NBC is going to show the race on a 12 hour tape delay. What a slap in the face to the American public. NBC doesn’t suck- they suck moosecock-as we say up here in Canada.

  10. John Fox says:

    I hate hate hate NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. I have not been able to watch any (ANY!!!!) basketball games. They only play them at 5 a.m. on television and then don’t have any internet viewing (at least for Macs). NBC, you suck. No wonder I only watch ABC and CBS shows. You are stuck in an era that doesn’t believe in the internet, and you have enforced a totalitarian reign of no-video on the internet. I hate you.

  11. Dre says:

    This is the WORST olympics coverage ever. I cannot believe they did not show the 100m mens track finals live. I heard it from a friend on my way home from work. HORRIBLE!!!! NBC please understand Michael Phelps is not the only athlete in the olympics. Props to him for the 7 seven medals but the other thousands of athletes have worked hard too. As a matter of fact I am blocking NBC from my Satellite stations. THEY REALLY SUCK!!!

  12. Bob says:

    This was the WORST COVERAGE OF ANY OLYMPICS! I am a huge FIELD and track fan. The only coverage that I could see of any field events was little 30 sec. update on who won the event. What makes it worse is the fact that for some reason nbc will not show any online coverage of the events, not even long form rewinds! At least in all other events a person at home can watch every aspect of the event with the added bonus of zero nbc bullshit comentating. But not in the Field events. This is complete BULLSHIT! I don’t care about live streaming of the event, I just want to see the event!
    nbc = SHIT

  13. Mathew says:

    NBC Coverage is the worst in the world. The quality of the program is good but very little substance.

    They cover only swimming, gymnastics and beach volly ball during prime time. Most other athlets are not prime time worthy in NBC business mind.

    I get to see more of Mysty May/Walsh ass on TV than any other sports.

    When did Beach volly ball became a prime sport in US?

    SHAME ON NBC!!!!

    !!!Show Sports NOT stories!!!!

    And that Bob C guy is so annoying

  14. Weiz says:

    NBC’s coverage is bad. But of course, they don’t care what we think. Here is a public email protest – It works better than blogging or commenting because you are actually sending them an email. The email is kept public so that they can’t ignore us when they get a lot of emails.

  15. Katie says:

    I am glad my hubby and I are not alone. This year’s coverage of the Olympics has been horrific. Prime Time= Beach Volleyball (in agreement with the above poster- when did that become prime time worthy?), swimming – Phelps (we get it already), gymnastics, and diving.

    We are triathletes and have had one hell of a time finding out when the tris are airing on TV OR online. We we sooo excited to see the marathons – I have not even seen an update on the marathons prime time. We heard the women’s was on sat…but have not even seen a 30 second recap of it. Searched for it online – not even a video. We were also excited about the new 10k swim. We have given up hope of ever finding out when that will be covered, if at all.

    We have just given up.

  16. Katie says:

    Well, we found the tris online. Too bad it had the winner posted and all the race recap in 1 paragraph. Not even worth watching the whole video now that we know how it ends. 🙁 Really takes the excitement and anticipation out.

    Seriously, I know everyone wants to see more of “their sport,” but did you know that Triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports in the country?! And if you separate all 3 sports – many people swim, bike and run on a daily basis and can relate. Such as the poster above that wants to see more Track and Field – I agree the coverage of T&F is sporadic and unreliable. And tons of Americans run! Diving? Beach VB? How many people CARE? A much smaller group of people!

    I know, I am being selfish now. I guess I just can’t see the rationale in their choice of prime time sports. I’m not saying I could do it better myself…it just seems like if all you get to watch is prime time you are VERY limited in the sports you’ll see covered. I was as excited as anyone to see Phelps make history and loved watching the swimming…but it got to be overkill at the end, as if nothing else was happening at the games.

  17. Disgusted says:

    It is 8:54pm PST and I am watching NBC’s horrible coverage of the Olympics… they are showing, in their precious prime time, events that happened over 12hours ago… the entire world knows the results/winners and yet the idiots at NBC have decided to show this dated crap… really? REALLY??!!??
    It’s bad enough we on the West Coast have to wait for a 3-hour tape delay, but we also have to view races/contests we already know the outcomes for…. pathetic.

    NBC should never be allowed to cover the Olympics again. The whole point is to see these games AS THEY HAPPEN…. not 3 hours later, much less 12 hours later. Oh, I forgot. We need to see the nightly news, and your ridiculously shallow Hollywood gossip show. And I can’t forget that the idiot Bob Costas also needs his precious screen time. So sorry. My priorities must’ve gotten rearranged.


  18. NBC’s coverage of the Beijing Olympics has been abysmal!! Several track & field events that I wanted to view have been shown several hours after the event and they were not viewable via Internet videos.

    Additionally, NBC did a poor job of advising viewers of the times when key events would be shown in the USA. This network covered swimming, diving, and women/men’s gymnastics to the n’th degree, BUT track and field events received very poor coverage! While Michael Phelps’ 8 Gold Medals was/is a fantistic feat, some of us are not that impressed with his achievement! It appears NBC focused too much on Phelps passing Mark Spitz’s 7 gold medals that the network FORGOT all the OTHER Olympic Events!

    Athletes from countries other than the USA, China, Russia, France, Germany, etc. received very little coverage! NBC sucked in their coverage of this Olympics!!!!!!

  19. Jason says:

    NBC has been pitiful with its coverage of the Olympics thus far and I don’t anticipate that it will get any better. Prime time has been dedicated to diving, beach volleyball and swimming (including the prelims…why?) I have yet to see any other sports mixed into their coverage. It’s amazing that none, none of the soccer matches for either the women or men have been aired during a reasonable time slot. Well I guess the most popular sport in the world is worthless to NBC but beach volleyball is all the rave right? Anyway, at least they aired both of Bolt’s races, although good luck getting replays from NBC’s site. It’s a disaster having to sit through AT&T and Beer commercials, 30 seconds of buffering (at least), and fragmented coverage of a replay. Very frustrating!

  20. Ram says:

    I love the olympics, but NBC coverage sucks… I live in the west coast and didn’t get anything live! It is ridiculous. Even Phelps and all that… How about track and field? I can’t watch any of the competitions live… Why don’t they put the darn thing online? These guys are clueless… I hope they are crushed by the web.

  21. Nick says:

    It is a very sad thing when Track and Field, which argueably was the foundation sport of the original Grecian Oympics would get overshadowed by countless other “sports” and activities. How much time did we spend watching young men take showers after their dives into a pool when we could be watching the 1500 meter run, or at least one of the 10 decathalon events? The US won the gold in the decathalon, what was that guy’s name?

  22. Fer says:

    NBC SUCKS! The Beijing Olympic 2008 coverage was the WORST coverage in decades!

    The board of directors should do management shuffle or bring new management because it seems things are going worse. They could have done a better job. They had too many commercials, lack of other sports, etc. NBC should show more sports with other countries competitors too.

    THE CLOSING CEREMONY WAS TERRIBLE. I have never seen a coverage in which you are watching the closing ceremony. Then, after few minutes, they switched to a competition game, then commercials again. They spent the whole night showing some competitions in which they were over already. THE SHOULD HAVE PROGRAMED TO SHOW THE WHOLE CLOSING CEREMONY TOGETHER and not in parts or pieces.

    It was better not to see it today. NBC only wants people to buy the video of the closing ceremony and make more money. Everything is about money. NBC doesn’t care about the viewers.


  23. Awesome news about women’s boxing in the 2012 London Olympics. Australia should field some strong contenders.

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