Michelle and I love the Olympics, and were excited about the London 2012 games. Like most people in the world, however, our “Olympic experience” depends on the media coverage we have access to. Michelle and I were initially optimistic when NBC announced they’d be partnering with YouTube to stream every single event online, regardless of their televised coverage. We imagined that meant that we’d be able to stream all the events we wanted onto our Television set via Apple TV, sans commercials, live or on replay, with some form of announcer or sportscaster if we wanted (I imagined a “bare” stream and a “commentary” stream, echoing the broadcast).
I couldn’t have been more wrong. We’re extremely disappointed with NBC’s coverage. Certainly, we’re not alone.
* First of all, NBC’s iOS apps are crap. The apps are unstable. The “Live Extras” app (the one with the live video and replays) doesn’t support Apple TV (which is pointless, because even if NBC’s goal is to keep the app from streaming to the Apple TV the iPad can mirror the screen via AirPlay so you can still get it, just with letterboxing). The custom video player randomly breaks into the video feed to play ads every few minutes. Moreover, the video players in the apps are so unstable that when the streams switch to the ads, the video will often cut out or drop resolution to an unwatchable 8-bit video. Also, video replays are delayed hours, so that no replays that will be broadcast on air are available before they’re on television. And they’re not available with commentary, so you better know the rules…
* On air, NBC doesn’t actually much if anything live. (Ironically, when they did, they accidentally showed a female Water Polo player get her swimsuit yanked off her breast. Whoops). The problem is that while they delay their broadcasts and streaming video, they don’t delay their stats, articles, and results. So their own apps spoil the games! So do their commercials at times, too. So they’re taking the excitement out of their own coverage. Great job.
* The broadcasts are not only American-centric, but not even complete. They’ll omit giving scores, they’ll leave out particular rounds or contestants, you name it. And they’ll air the same video montage constantly, which gets incredibly old incredibly fast.
The worst thing is, there’s no competition, so there’s little you can do. And NBC has no incentive to do any better, they’re breaking ratings records and no doubt far more concerned with making as much money as they can from ads than anything else.
But there are some things you can do. There’s the option to use a VPN to spoof being from another nation and use their feed. There are other options for those who know where to find shadier sites. If NBC isn’t careful they could lose those ratings—and ad dollars—if people become so angry that en masse we all seek out those other options in future Olympics. It’s all in NBC’s hands…