I know…it’s early; we’re so far less than a day into Olympic coverage. But this is just broken.
I’ve often heard that even as the Internet becomes more of a venue for video of various types, that the last stronghold of broadcast will be live events, and especially sporting events. Because no one wants to see 12-hour old sports results…right? Well, someone should have told NBC.
NBC has the exclusive rights to Olympic coverage in the US, and has decided to ignore the fact that it’s 2008, and just pretend prime-time coverage will still carry the day. Now, it’s worthwhile to note that they drew a tough one here; Beijing is halfway around the world from the United States, and literally 12 timezones from the East Coast. That…well, sucks for NBC. But the solution isn’t to pretend that the Olympics aren’t happening until US prime time! From Day 1, where NBC postponed coverage of the Opening Ceremonies for 12 hours (until prime time), there seems to be a lack of understanding of just how frustrating their coverage choices are making regular people.
But what about Internet coverage? You can watch on the Internet, right? Well…kinda. Maybe. Initially, my tests looked pretty promising, but tonight the feeds have been sparse, and even what’s there is a comedy of “buffer…run for several seconds…buffer”. Net streaming is tough, certainly, but this either should improve quickly, or NBC’s got a fiasco on their hands. (I like the format of the player…but the potential doesn’t make up for the reality of The Fail.). And regardless…NBC has already stated that they won’t preempt any of their primetime coverage with live streams, so many of the premier events aren’t going to be viewable as they occur, at least in the US.
And other countries are no help. The streaming rights are geo-bound in every way imaginable, and I’ve spent hours tonight looking for the correct proxies to get something usable. Little joy. I expect that by the end of the weekend, I’ll have something semi-workable, but this is ridiculous.
It’s so disappointing to see such a lack of vision in 2008. The flat-out refusal to try anything new, simply ignoring the reality of the world today, is befuddling. I’ll be unable to WATCH these events in real-time, but whether NBC likes it or not, we’ll actually know the results. And if I can’t watch live, I may not watch at all. Their refusal to allow large-scale streaming, to not show events as they occur, and to try to pretend that broadcast is still the only option available will only hurt their ratings, IMO.