SBD/February 4, 2014/Media

NBC Embracing Multiplatform Coverage For Sochi Games, Including Cable, Web And Mobile

NBC for the Sochi Games will offer streaming coverage of every event
NBCUniversal is "rolling out a revised Olympics game plan" for the Sochi Games, which begin Thursday, that brings the net "up to speed with the fast-changing media world," according to David Cohen of VARIETY. After an "uneasy flirtation with multiplatform coverage and the Web in past Olympics, the Peacock has finally committed to a more-is-more strategy." NBCU for Sochi is "rolling out new platforms, new programs and new talent across its apps, the Web and its family of cable nets." Besides the usual primetime broadcasts hosted by Bob Costas, NBC will "offer streaming coverage of every event, and cable coverage will be expanded as well." NBC offered "only short VOD clips" of the '10 Vancouver Games, "all for desktop screens." NBC Sports Group Senior VP & GM/Digital Media Rick Cordella: "The iPad came out in March of 2010, a month after the Vancouver Olympics, so this will be the first time we stream to mobile devices." Cohen noted NBC "draws the line" at the Opening Ceremony, which will not be streamed. NBC for the '12 London Games "couldn’t exploit viral videos and missed out when Olympic moments became must-see YouTube clips." So for Sochi, NBCOlympics.com "will highlight such can’t-miss moments." Having "absorbed the lesson that streaming coverage builds viewer engagement, NBC is experimenting with one of its crown jewels, figure skating coverage, by airing the entire figure skating competition live on the NBC Sports Network" (VARIETY.com, 2/3). In Chicago, Dawn Rhodes notes NBCU will present "an average of 85 1/2 hours of live and tape-delayed competition and ceremonies each day across its five television stations and on NBCOlympics.com" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/4).

LEAVE THEM WANTING MORE: The AP's David Bauder reported NBC is using the Sochi Games "to push interest in technology allowing cable or satellite TV subscribers to see live Winter Olympics competition on mobile phones or tablets." The network yesterday said that it will "give subscribers a 30-minute 'free pass' to Olympics video before they are asked to verify that they are paying customers." On subsequent days, the access "will be limited to five minutes before verification." Cordella said that for the London Games, "just under 10 million mobile devices were authenticated to watch live programming ... although NBC doesn't have a count of how many actual customers that included." Bauder noted NBC is hoping the temporary free pass "will give people a greater incentive to sign in because they will have a taste of what is offered." NBC is live-streaming "more than 1,000 hours of Olympics events" during the Games, as well as "providing analysis, interviews and highlights" (AP, 2/3). Fans can "access the network's streams at NBCOlympics.com/live-extra." Fans also can download the NBC Sports Live Extra mobile app, which will "allow you to live-stream content once you enter your login information" (WSJ.com, 2/1).

ADOBE CONTINUING RELATIONSHIP: Adobe Systems will be continuing its relationship with the NBC Sports Group, helping NBC Olympics deliver Sochi coverage online and through the NBC Sports Live Extra mobile app. NBC will be using Adobe's Primetime video platform, which performs a variety of functions including the video player itself, user authentication, ad insertion and analytics. Adobe also helped develop the NBC Sports Live Extra app itself. Adobe, meanwhile, also has released its quarterly digital benchmark report, measuring online, mobile and TV Everywhere usage across the country. The report found that consumption of digital sports video streaming is up 640% on a year-over-year basis, compared to a 440% increase for all forms of streaming content. Sports is also the top category for consumption of TV Everywhere according to the report's findings, commanding 37% of traffic in that area. "2013 was really a year of experimentation for a lot of networks in terms of the digital deployment of their content," said Adobe System Dir of Product Marketing & Video Solutions Campbell Foster. "What we're seeing this year is a real move toward being able to take that digital content and deliver it at truly major scale" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
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