NBC = Not Broadcasting Cleverly

First I want to say how I really appreciate the fact NBC is going to place all of the Olympic sports content online – a real boon for those of us who follow sports like Table Tennis and Badminton.   Those sports don’t make prime time NBC TV – in fact historically they are simply left out of the TV coverage.

But reading in NYT about how they spent much of the past few days keeping the opening ceremony offline makes me wonder how well they thought this out.    I really love watching the opening ceremonies – even the boring parts – and for the audience that would have watched this online live I think they could have targeted some great advertising – for example I would have been happy to sign up for “Olympic Specials” and give more demographic info than I normally would do in exchange for the privilege of a real time or short delayed webcast.     As an advertisers how would you like it if NBC offered you the ability to slice and dice your audience according to a survey you helped produce?

As it happens my daughter’s play conflicted with the first few hours of the ceremony, so I’ve taped them on media center and will watch them tonight or later.   But you can bet your bottom NBC dollar I probably will FF through most if not all of the ads – in fact through the boring parts and ads  which I would have *had* to watch if they’d let me see this live on China’s 8/8/8

I can’t help but think NBC’s approach was shortsighted.  Why squelch all the videos they could find rather than work to provide us with coverage of one of the the greatest events humanity has to offer at the time we want to watch it?    In this case wouldn’t choice have been more profitable?

10 thoughts on “NBC = Not Broadcasting Cleverly

  1. I spent thirty years in broadcasting, Joe, and trust me, there are very few progressive thinkers in the industry. The television networks and their affiliate stations (a big part of the problem) will never fully grasp the synergistic possibilities of the web as long as they fear it as just another nibble at their gross audience business model. In the 70’s and 80’s, they took the same attitude toward cable, which allowed other entities to create and profit from cable networks, pay services, and pay per view. ABC was the only early adopter (ESPN) and that was mostly a lucky investment with other partners.
    Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

  2. Dave I’m glad you mentioned cable as a force that reshaped things while previously vested interested just sat by and watched. I often forget how insignificant cable was just 30 years ago.

  3. To add, there are very few progressive thinkers anywhere. It’s all about upsetting apple carts. The L.A. Times will not be the last big newspaper to eliminate their real estate section.

  4. I think big media providers will continue to scramble for attention, but it is tough to see the future when you have been a part of creating the present for so long.

  5. It is absolutely about vested interests in all media. Even if your newspaper, radio or tv station, or magazine is dying, it still generates big bucks (declining though they may be). Why take a chance on the future when billions of dollars flow over the transom in the current business? Anything that even remotely hints at affecting the sacred bovine of cash is treated like an incipient anthrax infection.

    I, of course, am making my paltry living in one of the most broken, tradition-bound, risk-averse industries of all, book publishing. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

    Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

  6. Dave I think your point about cash flow is important. Even a newspaper that is losing money is seeing far more from print than online ads. Many onliners are suggesting that newspapers must move advertising and content online or they will die. Unfortunately, regardless of whether they have online ads and content, we’ve probably seen the death sentence for most newspapers in the form of online news and blogs which produce and deliver content at much lower / no cost, leaving profit margins you simply can’t match offline.

  7. Newspapers have been dying for a long, long time, but their death is kind of like prostate cancer–more men die with it than from it. They’re making less money now, but still have margins the people who manufacture widgets would love to have. Maybe not as large as before, but still wide enough to drive a Brinks truck through. While newspapers can’t lower their production and delivery costs to match online media, they’ve still got an edge when it comes to quality of content. The mistake they’re making is trying to save money by cutting back in the newsroom. That’s kind of like amputating your leg because you limp from an ingrown toenail. There’s more to it than that, of course, but TV didn’t drive radio out of business and DVD’s didn’t kill the movie theater. Will newspapers die someday? Sure, but not for awhile.

    Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

  8. We’ve been tuning in to the Olympics during the day and evening on NBC. I know we’ve sent hundreds of athletes to compete in dozens of sports. So far, almost everything we’ve seen has been in the water cube. There has been some beach volleyball, but we’ve only seen competitition involving American. We’ve seen some gymnastics, again, only the top 3 or 4 competitors. We saw no fencing, no judo, no archery, no shooting, and no weight lifting. Admittedly, we have not been tuning in at 3 AM. Thanks.

  9. Dave – good points. Could it be death by a thousand budget cuts?

    Kelly – try downloads at NBC.com – I think they are making all sports available (eventually) online. I’m a big fan of things that rarely make the TV like Table Tennis and Badminton.

    Women’s Fencing: Go USA and Oregon! Oregon fencers won Gold and Bronze.

  10. From a technology standpoint there seems to be an unsung hero represented.

    That is Silverlight from Microsoft. It is the technology that is behind the video streaming from NBCOlympics.com. The video streaming is performing flawlessly – this is a major achievement for a beta technology. Kudos to both NBC and Microsoft for creating such an excellent video experience online.

    Silverlight just isn’t about video technology it is also about standardizing XAML for web-site development. IMO Silverlight is going to radically transform the web over the next 12-18 months. Really amazing stuff!

    NBC – the video content looks absolutely fantastic!

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