SBD/July 26, 2012/Olympics

Initial Reviews Are In For NBC's Online, Mobile Streaming Of Olympic Events

NBC's mobile streaming of the Olympics is free, but consumers must sign up
NBC yesterday launched its online and mobile streaming of Olympic events with the U.S.-France women's soccer game, and the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS' Charlie McCollum reviews the coverage. McCollum writes he watched the game "and a couple other soccer matches live on Wednesday morning through my home computer (a Mac), a borrowed iPad, my iPhone and my office computer (a standard PC)." The feed "was great on the iPad, very good on the Mac, clear and crisp (if small) on the iPhone and a bit jerky on my office PC." The "gadgets (ranging from replay to multiple screens) are cool although, as you might expect, the PC/Mac website has more of them than do the mobile devices." This is a "vast expansion of an experiment during the Vancouver Winter Olympics when the network streamed hockey and curling live on its website." McCollum writes, "Of course, how things will work when NBC starts streaming as many as 30 events at a time and millions of viewers have logged in remains to be seen." The service is free, "although you do need to sign up -- which is something you should do now before the Games really get going" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 7/26).

LIVE ON TAPE DELAY: In Baltimore, David Zurawik notes no Olympic events will "take place in London during prime time in the United States, which means the day's results will already be known" when NBC's telecast begins each night. NBC London Olympics Exec Producer Jim Bell said, "We're going to handle that situation in both a traditional way and a new way. The old way ... involves classic storytelling techniques in prime time. The new way ... the exciting thing here is that we're streaming everything live." He added the new media strategy involves more than "just flipping a switch and putting things online." Bell said, "It's also about trying to be a little more creative with how we're handling tablets and mobile and the two-screen experience for people so that they can use their iPads, use their hand-held devises and get content, get information, find out more about these competitors or this venue or this town or this coach or team or foreign athlete they are suddenly taking an interest in" (BALTIMORE SUN, 7/26). In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal writes few institutions "like to wrap themselves in the past as much as the modern Olympics, and the networks that pay many millions for exclusive broadcast rights love to invoke their long tradition." However, the Games and the broadcast partners "are no more immune to the pressures to adapt to modern realities than any enterprise." Holding back video is "as pointless as waiting for Pheidippides to arrive in Athens for the results of the Battle of Marathon when today the story would be available live online, on mobile phones and tablets as it happened" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/26).

PASSING THE BATON: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes starting with the Opening Ceremony tomorrow, it will be Bell's "turn to orchestrate NBC's coverage as if he has been doing it for years." His task is twofold, as he must replace former NBC Sports Group Chair Dick Ebersol and also show his bosses at Comcast that he "is the right person to entrust with producing the London Games and up to four more Olympics" through '20. While Bell "built his reputation as a sports producer, with lots of Olympic experience, he has been the executive producer of 'Today' for seven years." Bell "deflects questions about the impact of taking over from Ebersol." He said, "I realize there's a story there, but I don't think much about it. I'm thrilled to have spent so much time working with him" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/26). Bell was also profiled in the July 16 issue of SportsBusiness Journal.

IDOL WORSHIP: TV personality Ryan Seacrest is joining NBC's coverage of the Games, and he said he will be down on the field during the Opening Ceremony "after the Parade of Nations comes through, and I'll talk to some of our athletes live in the moment to get their reaction to what happened at the Opening Ceremony.” Seacrest said of the net's use of social media during the Olympics, “We’re looking for some of the breakout stories. We’re going to follow the trends. We’re going to follow the culture of 24/7 information, and I think that’s an important aspect of our coverage here at NBC” (“Today,” NBC, 7/26).

MADE IN THE USA
: In Boston, Jill Radsken reports designer Joseph Abboud is “tasked with dressing the entire male sportscasting crew” for NBC’s broadcast of the London Games. He is also suiting up “Today” show host Matt Lauer and “Late Night” host Jimmy Fallon. The NBC broadcasters covering the London Games “will be sporting ‘Made in USA’ labels, thanks to Abboud.” Abboud designed custom blazers “for all of the talent, each with a crest incorporating NBC, Olympic and Hickey Freeman logos.” Meanwhile, Abboud said of Ralph Lauren making Team USA uniforms in China, “This was an oversight they didn’t see coming” (BOSTON HERALD, 7/26).
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