Wednesday, April 18, 2012

NBC will stream all Olympic events this summer; action follows news that the BBC will do the same

The vice president and general manager of NBC Sports Digital Media, Rick Cordella, told The New York Times that the network will stream all Olympic events this summer. “Whatever is on schedule that day, if cameras are on it, we’ll stream it,” Cordella told the Times.

But before one starts applauding NBC's commitment to digital streaming, one should at least acknowledge that it was the BBC which first announced that it would stream events. Their plan is to stream 24 channels of high definition (or standard) in addition to their regular broadcast channels. It is probably this action that makes NBC's streaming possible. (There is a centralized television command for television broadcasting so there aren't hundreds of TV cameras at every event, but it is up to the individual national broadcasters to determine which feeds to access.)

In order to deliver these streams, NBC will be launching dedicated mobile and tablet apps for the Olympics. Like the HBO app, a viewer would need to sign into the cable account to access the content. One would guess that Comcast will be one of the cable providers participating, now that they own NBC, that is.

The NYT article points out that only two years ago NBC was still trying to protect its prime time broadcast, only providing live streams of hockey and curling (curling!). The broadcaster was making the same mistake many publishers made by holding back content online under the crazy notion that they were protecting their print product. It is good to see that they are changing their policy in time for this summer's Olympics in London.

"We’re not scared of cannibalization,” Cordella told the Times. “Anytime you have a great event that happens before it shows on the air, it increases ratings and generates buzz.”