NBCOlympics.com – The Good and the Bad

Traditional media has taken great strides to create a compelling online presence – especially major media outlets. But things like this make me think some still don’t totally get it.

Here’s the bad: NBC launched NBCOlympics.com, which promised live and on demand coverage of Olympic events to online viewers. It was a big investment and could have been the go-to place for Olympic videos. Unfortunately, at least according to preliminary numbers from eMarketer, the company took in $5.75 million from video ads – only 1.1% of annual video ad projections.

The obvious question here is, why so little? A strict delivery deal with Microsoft is most likely the culprit. Users were unable to share and repost videos on multiple sites, which severely stunted viewership. Also, the videos required a Silverlight plugin, which many were forced to download to be able to watch any of the videos on the site. Inability to share + forced additional downloads = some seriously turned off viewers.

On the flip side, the good news is this case study shows that online video can work together with the regular old TV. NBC’s numbers showed that 50 percent of those that watched Olympic videos on TV used online video to catch up on events they had missed. A total of 40 percent just wanted to watch something again they had seen on TV. Only 0.2 percent exclusively used the Internet to watch the Olympics.

According to Alan Surtzel, NBC’s president of research, “The Internet hardly cannibalizes; it actually fuels interest.” 

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