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July 30, 2012
The Last Buggy-Whip Olympics
Yes, Virginia, TV execs do know where their audiences are
- in the US, online, and they don't want you. Unless, of course, you want to fork over $100/month for their massive packages of crap. But seeing the Olympics on your computer? Not this time.
Heidi Moore (for the Guardian) has a nice summary of the #NBCfail that has rolled through the social media sphere since the games opened. You see, there's a theory that you can watch (some of) the Olympics online. But not in the US. NBC has exclusive rights and they don't want to show it to you. Unless, see above, big package, big bucks, big bullshit. The Olympic site itself is no better, using its IP-detection banhammer to tell you to go suck up to NBC if you live in the US. I did try this weekend - I wanted to see some of the live action and compare how the streams performed. Yeah, right.
Of course, I could re-enable TORButton and appear to be outside the US, but it seems unfair to burden TOR's networks with my entertainment bandwidth just because US television execs have their heads firmly up their asses.
I mean, really. It's not enough that they fail on time-delay issues, and missing out on broadcasting events. It's a gross ignorance of the size and potential of the 21st-century audience. According to Moore's article, some two million people spent their time reading the #NBCfail hashtag stream. And that number doesn't count people like me who tried and just gave it up in disgust. If NBC are too stupid to capture and profit off two million potential viewers then I have no sympathy for them. As Moore says:
Most Americans would recognize that NBC needs to make money on the Olympics. It is not at all clear, on the other hand, that NBC needs to make money by forbidding millions of people from watching the Olympics.
The creation of artificial scarcity is one of the oldest tactics of monopolists. And, as we saw in the music business and the newspaper business it's all about service to old entrenched models of bureaucracy. NBC thinks it can stop people cutting the cord by creating artificial situations; instead what it creates is animosity and an environment where people openly share advice on how to circumvent blockages. If that doesn't sound like history repeating itself then you haven't paid attention to the last two decades.
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