8/6/12

NBC's Olympic Coverage Shows Audience Expectations Aren't in Its Cross Media Strategy

NBC’s Olympic coverage in the U.S. reveals the conflict media companies face as they try to simultaneously manage traditional media delivery and digital distribution.

The company is getting it right with the traditional broadcasts, garnering excellent audiences and more than $1 billion in advertising—a figure that surprised even its most optimistic executives and may allow the broadcaster to break even on the games which have traditionally been a loss leader for the company.

The company is also giving audiences more coverage than every before by streaming additional content on cable channels and digital live streams. These are provided on platforms that consumers have come to expect will give them the power to choose when, where, and on what device they will be viewed.  

In order to support its traditional, advertising supported services, however, NBC has used tape delays on the broadcast services and has excluded many sports or blacked them outs on live streams—angering millions of consumers and setting off one of the greatest storms of criticism in the history of social media.

In trying to put its feet in both distribution markets, NBC is forcing the digital community to live by broadcast rules and in doing so has disrespected the audience and norms of cable and online platforms. The result has been widespread audience frustration and anger.
The only thing keeping audiences from going elsewhere are the exclusive national rights and the fact that most users don't have enough technical skills or inclination to bypass the ISP-based protections against streaming material from other countries. 

Hopefully, NBC will learn from the experience and get the formula better for the 2016 Olympics.

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