During his Consumer Electronics Show keynote in Las Vegas on Sunday, Bill Gates announced that Silverlight will be the exclusive video format for NBC’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This is obviously a high profile ‘win’ for Silverlight, but almost all outside observers agree that Microsoft must have paid NBC a significant amount for this to happen.
In my opinion, this may be a smart move by MS, since the move will require millions of users to install Silverlight on their desktops so that they can watch the extended coverage. In 2004, NBCOlympics.com attracted a total of 12.2 million online viewers (a 230% increase over the 2000 Sydney olympics). In 2006, NBC built on this momentum and almost cracked the top 100 most trafficked websites during the Torino Olympics. I think it’s safe to assume that 2008 will see an even larger online audience.. so there’s a huge potential for new Silverlight installs on desktops around the world. In addition, this will be a good test for the robustness of the Silverlight platform, and if things go well, the Olympics will be a nice feather in Microsoft’s proverbial hat.
I think the above news, plus Microsoft’s move to redesign microsoft.com to require Silverlight, Flash is going to get some serious competition in 08. Incidentally, most agree that this move was out of desperation at the dismal adoption rate for Silverlight by consumers and developers. Can’t blame them though, since you can say that Adobe requires adobe.com visitors to install Flash Player.
The Olympics story was picked up by a lot of different news outlets, so I’m sure more details will be forthcoming – I’m waiting for the leak about the exact amount that Microsoft paid.. but a few links: