#NBCfails to Command Digital Live Streams

There is a lot of criticism for NBC this week as network manages the demands of delivering Olympics coverage in the United States from London, which is five hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone.

Unfortunately, since the suits at NBC invested over $1 billion for the rights to broadcast the games, they get to reserve the most popular events for the delayed broadcasts in the evenings in the United States and block them from the live stream at NBCOlymics.com during daytime in the U.S.

This heresy is seen as nothing shy of censorship by social media purists, because at the same time NBC is blocking live streaming of the most popular events, social media are spoiling the results for avid Olympics fans. The results of every event pour over the Internet in real time from every imaginable source in London, including from the athletes themselves.

Now, keep in mind that this is nothing new since news reports have always come out of the host city of the Olympics throughout their history, including a 12 hour difference between the Eastern Times Zone and Beijing in 2008.

Nonetheless, the global community online is incensed at this clash between a profit motive on the part of NBC and the duty to report sports news in real time. After all, isn’t it NBC Sports that has brought us “Breakfast in Wimbledon” for the past 29 years, delivering live broadcasts from London starting at 9:00 AM in the Eastern Time Zone?

What we have with this controversy is a classic conflict between traditional media and new media.

If you consider that NBC can only give us one stream through their broadcast network that largely provides recaps of the day’s major events, it is rather remarkable that we could gain live access to any and all events through their online live stream service, which just requires a sign-in with your cable TV username and password.

While I believe that since NBC forked-over $1 billion for the rights to the Olympics telecasts, the network can decide what to broadcast and when. It is also worthy to note that NBC is the first network managing live streaming of the Olympics on a grand scale for the first time in history.

Nonetheless, with Twitter hashtags set up to protest the NBC broadcasts of the games, including #NBCfail and #NBCsucks, the underlying PR damage to the NBC brand could have more lasting negative impact on the network than the financial gains from this Olympics is worth.

With about 12 days of the games remaining, NBC has plenty of time to address this groundswell of protest against their coverage   and make adjustments that will leverage their broadcast and digital platforms online in a memorable and positive way.


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