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NBC To Live-Stream Most Summer Olympic Events


Olympics fans, the tyranny of the tape delay is over. With the games heading to London this summer, NBC has announced it isn't going to make fans wait for a primetime delay to see their favorite sports.

As NPR's Sami Yenigun reports, the network will live-stream just about every event as it happens.

SAMI YENIGUN, BYLINE: It was all about the Olympic Games on NBC this morning. They had "Today's Show's" Matt Lauer all jazzed up.

MATT LAUER: Have you heard the opening ceremonies for the summer Olympic Games in London now just 100 days away, the number of Team USA...

YENIGUN: That's right. They're still more than three months away, but they're starting the hype now because the Olympics are a critical part of NBC's broadcasting schedule, says Rick Cordella, VP of NBCSports.com.

RICK CORDELLA: It's part of the culture here, and when I first arrived here, it's clear. You walk in and the division is called NBC Sports and Olympics.

YENIGUN: And NBC needs the Olympics. It's in last place behind the other big broadcast TV networks, so they're trying to get more people to watch their primetime programming while they'll show tape-delayed highlights of the popular sports by streaming those sports live online as they happen.

Wait. What? If it's online first, they really think more people will watch it on TV later?

CORDELLA: Great content, stream (unintelligible) will amplify the TV rating long term.

YENIGUN: Rick Cordella says that if someone can watch sports on a television, they will, even if it's already been on their computer or on their phone. People would rather sit on a couch in front of their big screen, so Cordella's not worried about online streaming cutting into NBC's ratings.

CORDELLA: We don't believe in cannibalization.

YENIGUN: He points to the Super Bowl as evidence, which NBC streamed online this year. Both the online stream and the TV ratings broke records. Good for advertisers like Tor Myhren, president of the firm Grey New York, who says the Super Bowl is the biggest platform for advertising.

TOR MYHREN: It is bigger than it's ever been and more expensive than it's ever been, but I think the Olympics is right behind that.

YENIGUN: I asked Myhren what he thought streaming the Olympics would mean for price tags on TV spots.

MYHREN: My gut would say that you would pay less, but I always keep thinking that and the prices keep going up.

YENIGUN: And the live-stream is going to make watching the Olympics even more exciting, says Guyanese Olympic sprinter Alainn Pompey, who's psyched that her family will be able to watch her online.

ALAINN POMPEY: When you're sitting in the stands and something exciting happens, something big happens, you're sharing that moment with the people next to you and it's sort of a virtual transfer of that kind of vibe, that kind of feeling and atmosphere online.

YENIGUN: Four years ago, traffic on social media was a fraction of what it is now. Today, people watch all kinds of live sports together while tweeting or surfing the Web.

NBC's Rick Cordella says that the NBC online experience isn't limited to just streaming video.

CORDELLA: I think we're going to try and create experiences, enrich the TV viewing experience by having content available on these devices.

YENIGUN: The marquee sports like gymnastics and track and field will be live-streamed as they happen, but if you miss it live, you'll have to wait until primetime to see it again.

Sami Yenigun, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.