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BBC’s Novel Olympics Ploy: Live Events

8 August 2012 in Trading Ideas

It’s been a dance for American television viewers of London’s Summer Olympics.

Those who are constantly “wired” to their various internet devices can get instant access to who just won the gold medal in team handball, but the subsequent tape-delayed viewing lacks the visceral drama and punch (as much as team handball can have).

On the other hand, those who want to preserve their window of primetime TV viewing are essentially sentenced to inhabit an information cave, dodging the rush of those vying to be the first to tweet results of the men’s steeplechase final.

If only there was a way to see more events as they unfold.

There is, it turns out – for citizens of the UK watching their country host the Games. As the New York Times recently noted, the BBC has lined up 2,500 hours of coverage throughout the event’s two-week duration. Viewers can choose among up to 24 live feeds for live events.

The US strategy, brought to you by NBC — and 51%-owner Comcast (CMCSA) – got off to a well-publicized start during the opening ceremony, which was packaged in primetime for US viewers, much to the consternation of the wired population, which was following the event online, even if it couldn’t watch it.

NBC has primarily offered live-streaming alternatives only online – and only to pay-TV subscribers. And one is forced to admit that NBC’s results seem to speak for themselves, with strong ratings, according to the Times.

But as the paper points out, the rapid advance of technology that can deliver simultaneous feeds may be tweaking the International Olympics Committee’s long-standing goal of simply finding the biggest audience possible for the Games. Now, it seems, the maximum amount of coverage for all events is part of the equation.

The Times reported that even the BBC considered the possibility of delaying the broadcast of the opening ceremonies, before the broadcaster concluded British viewers wouldn’t accept it.

One wonders if it will take another US-based Olympics to force American broadcasters into the same decision.