The problem for NBC as for other media is that it is trying to preserve old business models in a new reality. To experiment with alternatives when billions are at stake is risky. But so is not experimenting and not learning when millions of your viewers can complain about you on Twitter.
The bottom-line lesson for all media is that business models built on imprisonment, on making us do what you want us to do because you give us no choice, is no strategy for the future. And there’s only so long you can hold off the future.
Being on vacation during the Olympics, I’ve felt this pain magnified without even a DVR to time-shift my viewing. NBC’s iOS apps are awful, built on Adobe’s PhoneGap technology. The performance is the first thing that’s noticeable, but then in terms of usability, it’s impossible to find any event to watch, and NBC holds back the “big” events until they’ve aired in primetime.
Keep in mind this experience is awful, even for a paying cable subscriber! I can’t even get access on my mobile devices to NBC’s live broadcast.
I find it hard to believe that there isn’t a business model around airing the event live, and then recapping the day at the end. There is simply too much going on, and people working 9-5 who can’t watch a race that there is still a massive market for watching the Olympics in the evening with your family.
There isn’t even the option to pay NBC for this access.
NBC Sports Group chairman, Mark Lazarus had this to say:
“This audience number for the London opening ceremony is a great early sign that our strategy of driving people to watch NBC in prime time is working”
That’s because they’re serving the almighty ratings, and not the viewers. Of course the strategy is working – we have no other option.
All this boils down to the monopoly that the IOC grants to NBC. If there was competition, we’d be seeing a much more user-centered approach, but NBC does this bullshit because they know we don’t have any other options.