NBC remains in full retreat from live online coverage of the Winter Games from Vancouver, slashing the number of hours offered during the 2008 Summer Games by something like four-fifths.
Meanwhile, Canadian broadcasters are boasting “every second of every competition” live on two web sites.
Computer stuck here in the U.S.? Hope you’re into curling. And hockey. Those sports dominate NBC’s live Olympics video offerings, with a dash of the higher-profile sports that we’ll see on TV.
Want those online scraps? You’ll have to prove to NBC that you’re a paying customer of their cable TV and satellite partners.
Otherwise, you’re in for 3-minute clips of events that already happened. Or the lame 2-minute “Defining Moments Montage” of the day’s action. Accompanied by preroll ads.
As of early Sunday, the highlights on the free video page were dominated by recaps of Friday’s opening ceremony.
Perhaps you’d like to stop by the athlete profiles section, with plenty of canned video.
The upside is the video images filtered through the Microsoft Silverlight platform are pretty good and clear, but we haven’t seen much in HD. You’ll have to download the latest version of Silverlight as the first step in accessing the live content.
As for verifying, be prepared to enter your password for your cable system or satellite provider’s web site. Don’t have one? You’ll be signing up for that, too.
(Give NBC some credit for its integration of Twitter, Facebook and wireless apps.)
NBC acknowledges that people who seek out live video become more involved with the Games and are more likely to watch the (mostly canned) TV broadcasts.
The problem seems to be the unauthorized sites and social video destinations that host pirated online feeds. No live feed online, no problem.
“Our aim is to make access to pirated material inconvenient, low quality and hard to find,” an NBC suit told Mediaweek. Another rep noted that viewers like “instant storytelling” and not the live action coverage that fans get in football, basketball, baseball — almost every sporting event.
Here’s a concept: Let the “instant storytelling” crowd get their soft-focus feel-good profiles on TV, while motivated sports fans can get their live fix online. That’s what multiplatform multimedia is all about, boys.
NBC has rights to the 2012 Games in London, so expect more of the same. The 2014 Games are up for grabs, with NBC up against ESPN/ABC and Time Warner/CBS. Comcast cable, the likely new owner of NBC Universal, might not be too thrilled with the prospects of another quarter-billion-dollar money loser, however.
That leaves the door open for ESPN, which presumably sees the value in doing right by the international community of sports fans.
The Worldwide Leader has the channels, the online chops and the intelligent love of sport that NBC lacks.