Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Tyranny of Prime Time

Forcing all the "big" events to a time-shifted-to-prime-time model isn't holding the entire audience, and any U.S. network planning to buy Olympic rights will be confronted with more and more audience bleed as viewers find ways to see events as they happen.

Cyndy Aleo-Carreira, writer for The Industry Standard

In Cyndy Aleo-Carreira, "Users run circles around NBC's Great Olympics Firewall ," The Industry Standard, August 11, 2008

NBC-Universal estimates that during the first four days of the Olympic games 157 million Americans, or more than half the U.S. population, viewed some part of the Olympics on NBC properties (for example, the NBC-TV, USA, MSNBC, and Oxygen TV networks and their online counterparts). Nevertheless, as Aleo Carreira suggests, some US viewers are annoyed because NBC-U has held back broadcasting certain games live or right after they happen because the network wants to reserve them to attract a potentially huge (and therefore lucrative) prime time audience.

Because of NBC's fierce protection of its rights, getting videos of certain Olympic events right after the happen is not easy on the US internet. "A quick search of YouTube shows that Google has pulled down copyright-infringing clips of the opening ceremony from NBC, but coverage from Chinese network CCTV is easy to find. As for the events themselves, NBC and BBC Olympic videos seem to appear and disappear frequently, so it's clear YouTube is having trouble keeping up with the uploads." All these cat-and-mouse games are offending many viewers, says Aleo-Carreira. She suggests that audience pressures should lead future firms that control Olympic exhibition not to be wedded to the concept of prime time.

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