The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are truly a showcase event for sports technology. From the new Olympic Stadium, to the making of medals through donated phones, to robots developed by Mobility Sponsor, Toyota, to assist and guide patrons while interacting with athletes. Now NBC is jumping the shark by allowing Twitter to live stream the summer Olympic to users of the free social media platform. While live coverage will be limited, it marks another step in the direction of streaming for the cable giants at Comcast, owners of NBCUniversal, the Olympics rights holders, in the face of cable cutting madness. Fans can use their digital devices, computers and smart TVs to watch streams of highlights and a studio show in addition to one, 5-minute or less, real-time sport action in prime time each evening on Twitter via NBC. The Sports Techie community blog says, so what.
5-Minutes or Less
Think about 5-minutes for a second. That is 300 seconds or less. It might take longer to make yourself a cold or hot beverage, some tasty food, or even go to the restroom. No question it takes longer to put the kids to bed, finish up a work email or rifle through your social media platforms for the night. So what is the big deal regarding 5-minutes of live NBC Olympics event coverage on Twitter? Not much.
Is five minutes the actual attention span of today’s fan, no matter the age, or is it all the time NBC Sports wants to allocate because it is in direct competition with their television broadcasts which they paid $4.38 billion for the rights to be the exclusive broadcaster on both TV and digital streams over four consecutive Olympics.
I really want to know if this business arrangement helps NBC step up their live tweeting efforts or will they go back to a couple live tweets, a bunch of pre-made tweets bundled together with retweets of celebrities, entertainers and athletes, per event. This is a truly an overused model by all sports properties. Another social pet peeve is NBC doesn’t retweet the common fan enough. Will Twitter help bring it all together for NBC via a five minutes stream? I don’t believe so but hey, it’s free.
Hey NBC, Live Tweeting Works
According to Gary Zenkel, NBC Olympics president, Twitter is “an ideal platform for the massive social conversation that occurs during every Olympic Games.” Zenkel said this statement meaning everyone else talks about it on Twitter but why does NBC Sports, in my opinion, not get the concept of live tweeting during the entire event with the exception of Sunday Night Football social team which is actually very good at it?
I have long been a proponent of rights holders producing live tweets during sports events. Often times, the Twitter handles in charge of this important social task fail miserably and I am not kidding, NBC is no exception. The recent Women’s World Cup an an example was downright shameful in terms of the effort FOX and FIFA put in with live tweeting the matches. Look at any golf Major tournament and broadcaster stream, and they fall into the same preventable trap. The NBA, MLB and NHL are decent at it but they usually have so many games going on at the same time on a given day, they are spread way too thin to master the art of live tweeting game or sport action.
I can’t tell you how often I use Twitter as a second, third or even primary screen only to be let down by the lack of live tweeting accompanying real-time action. It makes me wonder what the policy is at NBC for live tweeting, who is in charge of the social teams, what person or persons are supposed to be live tweeting, and whether they all even get it.
The worst excuse of all is different time zones. The fact that these Olympics are hosted over in Asia in Japan only puts more pressure on NBC Sports and their various channels like NBCSN, USA and CNBC, as well as their video streams delivering Tokyo 2020, to make live tweets a priority and not simply rely on fans and Twitter Sports to carry the load because the latter are not very good at live tweeting while for former are the best.
One advantage to partnering with Twitter is the chance for fan interaction in the form of voting during AM hours on the prime time athlete or event they want to view each night. This fan engagement initiative is an innovate way for fans to participate in choosing official Olympic content they want to see that night on Twitter.
Free IS The Future
NBC delivers a majority of the Olympics over the web on the NBC Olympics website but like NBA games on ESPN, you have to pay for a TV package and use them as a provider (something Turner Sports does not require for NBA games they live stream even during the playoffs making it free, except for the internet connection cost which could be free depending on where you are connected).
The same is true for Twitter as they do not charge a subscription fee so other than an online connection charge if you have one; the five minute live Tokyo 2020 feed from NBC is free. Cable cutters can rejoice but how much value does a 5-minute Olympics stream by NBC really have with millennials and GenZ viewers anyways? They would rather stream Twitch and watch video games and eSports than Olympic athletes they don’t care to know is my educated guess meaning that leaves Generation X and Baby Boomers to watch the five minute streams each night, right.
NBC tried streaming with SnapChat for free during the 2018 Winter Game in Pyeongchang, South Korea and I am pretty sure it was not very popular with this young user base but I have not seen the metrics to prove this point one way or another.
The saving grace may be a title sponsor and the notion they bring in clever marketing ideas that bring in eyeballs to see the brands ads regardless of who is performing in what sport at these Games.
Sports Techie, Twitter said today they gained new subscribers. I don’t believe it. Does this affect how many Olympic fans on Twitter will watch NBC Olympics on their free service?
You already know the answer to that.
Get excited for the robots!
See you later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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