Saturday, July 28, 2012

NBC draws anger over failure to show Olympics Opening Ceremony

If you've been hearing or seeing all of NBC's ads about its 2012 London Summer Olympics coverage, you probably have heard the company say - over and over again - how everything would be streamed live. What the network didn't say was that everything would be streamed live "except the Opening and Closing Ceremonies."

Despite NBC's frequent boasts about the streaming options U.S. fans would have, it offered no live streaming of the opening ceremonies. Instead viewers had to wait for NBC's tape-delayed primetime broadcast in the evening.  This drew a lot of ire, as you might expect.

While that certainly made sense for NBC in terms of ad revenue, it didn't make sense to viewers. To be clear, though, when NBC mentioned that "everything" would be streamed live, it was quite clear: it said it would live stream all "sporting events."

Despite its importance to viewers, the Opening Ceremonies are not a sporting event. Considering that NBC failed to show the "7/7" memorial service prior to the parade of nations, viewers might have been disappointed anyway.

NBC has defended itself against its critics. The reason it didn't live stream the Opening Ceremonies, and will not stream the Closing Ceremonies, either, is because viewers aren't smart enough to "get it." At least, that's what their statement sounds like:

"It was never our intent to live stream the Opening Ceremony or Closing Ceremony. They are complex entertainment spectacles that do not translate well online because they require context, which our award-winning production team will provide for the large prime-time audiences that gather together to watch them."

Right, they are too complex for U.S. viewers to understand.  You've just been dissed, folks.

Meanwhile, speaking of disappointments, as athletic action began ramping up on Saturday, NBC's streaming service showed it was not up to the challenge. As we anticipated earlier, the service is stretched to the limit.

Numerous complaints were Tweeted and posted on the Internet. The first complaint was based on a misunderstanding. Many viewers were unaware that in order to stream the video, they had to submit their cable / satellite TV company username and password. That requirement hadn't been widely publicized.

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Next, as viewers piled onto the Michael Phelps / Ryan Lochte 400 IM showdown, which wasn't broadcast live on any of NBC's various networks (and spoiler alert, which Lochte won, by the way, as Phelps finished fourth) the streaming service groaned and burped under the strain.

Not only was the stream itself a problem, so was the web app. Deadspin's Timothy Burke Tweeted that the player (which he said was from Google) was leaking memory, in Chrome, IE, and Firefox.

NBC had best work quickly to fix these issues. On Monday, it will see its version of Cyber Monday. People will be heading back to work, and since they will want to view events while they work (productivity will drop, of course), it will place a still further strain on NBC's servers.

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