NBC Sports Group teamed with YouTube to show digital footage of the London Games, but they won’t be working together again in Sochi, Russia.
The network hasn’t made a final decision about whom it will turn to for video-player support during the 2014 Olympics. Sources familiar with NBC’s plans for Sochi said it is preparing to build its own content management system for the Games. It’s unclear if it will develop a video player on its own or partner with another provider in the coming months.
An NBC spokesperson declined to comment on the network’s plans.
NBC used Microsoft’s Silverlight video player during the 2008 Beijing Games and 2010 Vancouver Games. It recently partnered with Microsoft’s Azure, a division of the company that offers a cloud platform where NBC can stream media to Adobe Flash, Android, Apple, Windows and other devices and platforms. But the Azure system doesn’t include a video player.
During the London Games, NBC streamed 3,500 hours of live Olympics coverage using the YouTube player. There was some social media criticism of glitches and frozen video feeds during the Olympics, but NBC executives were pleased with the YouTube partnership and attributed complaints to a vocal minority.
But the partnership was as much about driving traffic from YouTube to NBCOlympics.com as it was about the player. YouTube promoted NBCOlympics.com on its heavily trafficked home page and directed visitors to NBC’s site.
It’s unclear how much traffic YouTube sent NBC’s way, but the network did see a huge increase in digital consumption of the London Games. Visitors streamed more than 20.4 million hours of video, more than double the 9.9 million streamed during the Beijing Games, and live video streams jumped to 64.4 million, up 353 percent from Beijing.
NBC will have to partner with other outlets if it wants to drive traffic to NBCOlympics.com during the Sochi Games. The most likely partner would be Yahoo. The two media companies struck a content partnership last year that lifted them to first in comScore traffic among U.S. sports sites. But NBC hasn’t agreed to work with Yahoo on the Olympics and doing so won’t be an easy decision.
Yahoo has been one of NBC’s primary digital competitors during previous Olympics. The company’s sports group has covered every Olympics since 2006, sending an array of reporters and video editors, and it claimed 2 billion visitors to NBC’s 1.8 billion during the London Games.