The viewing figures for London Olympics on TV here in USA were bigger than ever for NBC. Many pundits put this down to the enduring allure of Bob Costas but I think it was because the 2012 games were in a city familiar to so many people: dear olde London town. I lived in London for 8 years before moving to California and the highlight of the games for me (apart from fellow Scot and fellow Edinburgh University alumni, cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, becoming the most successful British Olympian of all time) was seeing the city itself become an integral part of the games. The best games are those where the city itself seems intertwined with the events – like Barcelona in 1992 or Sydney in 2000.
The BBC did a phenomenal job broadcasting the games in UK. As a publicly funded network the BBC (or Auntie as Brits call it) had the luxury of 24 HD broadcast channels dedicated to the event, meaning virtually every minute of every event was broadcast on TV across UK. You wanted to watch men’s handball, Iceland versus Argentina, you got it on your flat-screen in the living room (31-25 to the lads from the rapidly melting land in the north, BTW). Interesting fun fact, the BBC’s mobile apps that complemented their outstanding TV-coverage were developed using Adobe PhoneGap.
The US broadcast market is a little bit different, to say the least, than its more homogeneous European counterparts. The networks here are competing in a complex, competitive, highly fragmented and regionalized market. So, in short, no chance for 24 dedicated HD channels for the Olympics in USA! NBC was faced with a much more difficult situation than their BBC colleagues and had to rely on streaming the events live to desktop and mobile devices to ensure every sport got its place in the sun (or this being London, a light drizzle).
And that’s where a technology like Adobe Pass can come into play. Adobe Pass was the authentication glue that allowed cable and satellite subscribers to gain access to NBC’s comprehensive live steaming of events on their iPad, Android devices and desktop computers. Folks just had to use their cable or satellite company billing email and password and log-in to NBC’s desktop web experience or dedicated mobile Olympic app. Pass did the rest. Not surprisingly NBC’s Olympic web site and apps became daily destinations for sports nuts, like me, to visit.
Our stream-meisters have an overview of all of this and of Adobe Pass 2.0, announced today, over at the Digital Media Blog.
It will be interesting to see how this will all play out for the Rio Olympics in 2016 (and more importantly the World Cup in Brazil in 2014).