Yeah. NBC Has Utterly Wrecked The Olympics.

Despite watching the Olympics being a bit of a family tradition in my family, I think this long-running tradition is going to end with me, no thanks to the very kind of corporate nonsense that makes me sorry to live in America.

So as it turns out, NBC’s paywall of the Olympics turned out to be similar to a Hulu paywall.  After X amount of days all the TV-viewers-only events unlock (in this case 2), but even when you can use NBC’s YouTube apparatus on their NBCOlympics page to watch “full event replays” what you get is a stuttery mess that reminds me of a really bad Fraps video.  Gee.  Is this women’s beach volleyball I’m watching?  Or a poorly running video game with really good graphics?  😛  Yeah.  Not good.

It’s not like YouTube screwed this up either.  YouTube’s running just fine.  Poke around on YouTube and you’ll find countless videos that run silky smooth as far as frames per second goes, but if you want to see the USA vs. USA women’s v-ball final or Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte making waves in the pool, enjoy constant stuttering even when the video’s properly buffered.

So you may think to yourself, “Well maybe my browser just can’t handle the busy NBCOlympics site.  I can just click the ‘Watch On YouTube’ button right?”  Nope.  Locked out.  NBC has it rigged where the YouTube button just takes you to their YouTube channel which has none of the videos except pre-Olympic promos like the US swimming team doing “Call Me Maybe.”  😛  Any way you slice or dice it, using the Internet as your VCR to see the games is just going to make for a miserable experience.

“So were things better in 2008?” you may ask as you poke around looking to compare London 2012 to Beijing 2008, but oops.  If you’re looking for encore replays of events, NBC still has the video for Beijing up, but it’s completely paywalled.  Years and years later, forget about watching anything there if you don’t have a Pay TV subscription.  Of course, YouTube wasn’t involved back then so we’ll have to see if the London 2012 games follow that same path and get completely locked up sometime after this year.  But hey, you can always get the crappy highlights DVD off of Amazon or something.  😛

Want to know what the biggest insult in all of this is?  64 other countries out there can use the IOC’s YouTube channel to watch the Olympics online, live, for free.  Meanwhile, over here in the “land of the free” if you don’t feel like getting fleeced by a Pay TV company in our increasingly less competitive Telecom industry or if you’re like me and watch far too little TV to justify the cost, forget it.  Enjoy your subpar leftovers.  Indeed, stale 3 day old meatloaf or something might be preferable to this.  😛

This has been the first Summer Olympics since the infamous “Comcastrophe” merger and it definitely shows.  Want to see the future of broadband strangulation in America?  Just look at the consumer disgust about how NBC has handled London 2012.  Then again, this is America, where our Olympic athletes in their quest to train hard to hopefully be the best in the world at something often end up dirt poor, and even if they manage to pull it off, win a paltry stipend that the IRS then tries to tax.  Meanwhile while our athletes are being treated like crap runaway media giants are busily sucking every last penny out of people’s pockets in the worst economy since the Great Depression.

Indeed, it only gets worse from here.

Links:

http://www.freepress.net/blog/2012/08/08/2012-games-highlight-olympic-sized-problem-fans

Uhhhh…. Tech *Isn’t* Screwing Up The Olympics :-P

Discovery Networks recently put together a slide show of various ways technology is messing up the Olympics.

http://news.discovery.com/tech/london-olympics-tech-failures-120802.html#mkcpgn=fbsci1

I’m guessing these folks don’t follow certain kinds of technological development then?  Let’s just take a look at what each picture says and respond to it.

  • NBC’s Tape-Delayed Coverage Vs. The Internet – Technology isn’t screwing things up there, NBC is just stuck in an antiquated outdated business model just like the rest of the TV content industry.  You know, those folks who’ve kicked against the bricks as long as broadband video entertainment has been viable?  😛  – PEOPLE ISSUE
  • Spoiled Results – Again, this isn’t technology’s fault.  If NBC wasn’t running things as though the Internet has never existed before this wouldn’t be as much of an issue, but when the folks winning exclusive television broadcast rights are doing this while everyone with a Twitter page or a smartphone can just tweet the results, it’s really a matter of NBC’s TV approach being long in the tooth.  😛  – PEOPLE ISSUE
  • “Interference” – That would be because of the broadband industry’s minimalist approach despite exploding consumer demand.  😛  One astute commenter on this article posted, “Infrastructure should’ve been part of the planning process for brining the Olympics to London.”  Yeah.  Kind of like how Telcos often bring mobile antenna towers to areas where they might temporarily need more cellphone capacity.  😀  – PEOPLE ISSUE
  • Athlete Social Media Gaffes – Social media gaffes happen everywhere these days, including among celebrities.  Nothing new there.  😛  Society in general is VERY behind the curve on social media netiquette.  😛  – PEOPLE ISSUE
  • Boxing’s Computerized Scoring System – It’s already due to be scrapped in favor of a system more common in professional boxing.  I’m just wondering why that pro-boxing system wasn’t immediately used right off the bat.  This could be chalked up to bad planning.  😛  – PEOPLE ISSUE

Yeah.  Let’s not blame technology for other folks’ mess-ups somewhere along the line.  😛

Summer Olympics + Stricter Paywall = Have The Olympics Finally Gotten Too Commercial?

The Summer Olympics are underway in London right now, but I think for the first time ever I’m not so sure I want to make any attempt to watch them.  =(

New to the London 2012 games are an even stricter paywall on watching the games online, courtesy of exclusive broadcasting rights and this being the first Olympics since the Comcast/NBC Universal lovefest was rammed through the FCC.  The Summer Olympics this year are the first of the historic games series to utilize the poorly-executed “TV Everywhere” setup the big Pay TV companies have been oohing and aahing over.  Unfortunately despite the usual tenacious measures to protect the Olympic coverage on TV, The Consumerist is already lampooning NBC for sloppy coverage of the games and the ever growing clash between the TV schedule and what’s liveblogged over the Internet even before their official stream becomes available to people with Pay TV subscriptions.  😛

My family and I have traditionally been big fans of the Olympics.  In this day and age where professional sports have gotten just too commercial and sports stars are often too much like celebrities deserving of TMZ gossip and reality shows, for the most part Olympic athletes just stay focused on the sport (Michael Phelps being one of the big exceptions with his various ways of remaining in the spotlight in-between Olympics years).  I’ve watched at least significant amounts of Barcelona ’92, Atlanta ’96, and Athens ’04, as well as some of Beijing ’08 with online replays via broadband, but was too busy with other stuff to really make the time to watch the videos as they became available.  I only saw the opening ceremonies and one equestrian event.

London 2012, unfortunately, will be a no-go as far as I can tell.  It looks like full replays *might* become available to Internet nerds 3 days after they air on TV, so I hope I’m wrong and those of us that don’t watch enough TV to justify the cost of Pay TV these days can at least see a few events online.

This is quite a good representation of what’s wrong with the Pay TV industry these days and how tenacious ISPs and content companies are as they continue to do everything they can to stall broadband as a viable source of mainstream entertainment.  Now apparently even the Olympics have to be dragged into all this.

The sad fact as that the Olympics are very commercial these days.  There’s lots of money thrown around in all directions, except maybe towards American Olympic athletes themselves, as mentioned in recent articles like this CNN Money article about how Olympic athletes are often dirt poor compared to professional athletes in sports like baseball and basketball.  There’s advertising, merchandising, rights like NBC having the official exclusive rights to broadcast the games, then there’s the whole buzz both pro and con that host cities often get.  Some people like the added publicity of the event.  Others detest the added traffic and commotion.  Plus the Olympic stadiums are a massive money sink.  Sports stadiums create their own figurative “giant sucking sound” of dollars being consumed by high overhead, construction, insurance, and maintenance costs, and for what?  They’re in use a minority of the days of the year depending on the sport, and their only hope to come closer to actually making money is through events and conferences during the off-season.  The Beijing Bird’s Nest is already proving to be a bit of a money sink as it’ll take 30 years to pay off and has had a hard time filling its 80,000 seats since the 2008 Olympics.  Greece’s 2004 facilities haven’t been doing too well either.

Then, on top of all this, NBC decides to paywall everything.  😛  Yeah.  I’ll pass on that.  Looks like greed has killed off yet another family tradition in this case.  Even what looks like an NBC Olympics YouTube channel bounces you over to the NBC Olympics website where you’re prompted to log in with your Pay TV subscription.

…and the stupid part is, except for using the Internet as an inferior replacement for a DVR, what’s the point of streaming anything with a “TV Everywhere” login with all these ISPs playing artificial scarcity games and slapping everyone with bandwidth caps?  Watch this kill the demand for online streams and then these folks will turn around and say, “There.  See?  Pay TV isn’t dying off as quickly as the naysayers say it is.”  😛

Yeah.  Let’s just see if I can manage to watch any beach volleyball, swimming, track and field, or gymnastics in a couple of days.  😛  I’m sure the “spoilage” factor won’t be as big of an issue since according to the Consumerist article linked earlier even the primetime TV crowd is getting event results spoiled by the Internet.  😀