Is 2012 the last time the Summer Olympics will primarily be a television event? Will the Internet finally take over?
On my desktop I’m flipping between Archery, Fencing, and Judo streaming live from NBC’s excellent live streaming site. Fourteen live sports; some fully produced, some unenhanced, all with decent camera work and live editing and 1080p streaming. And all enhanced by tweet streams, and articles, and background stories, and blessedly free of the inane chatter of sports personalities and stupid tape delays. If I missed something there’s archive; full events, highlights, analysis, whatever I want online. I can also watch live video with NBC’s iPad app or use the tablet to get extra info while watching the TV. It’s all pretty great, I don’t even mind having NBC as the intermediary.
What’s missing from all this Internet viewing is the sense of a TV event, the whole family gathered around the electronic hearth watching something together. There’s still no great solution for playing Internet video on the big TV. It’s sort of doable as a hack but Internet-on-TV isn’t a mainstream thing, so it’s not a real product. Will it be by 2016? I sure hope so.
But streaming the video is easy; the real problem is producing an event for Internet. The main program needs to be edited, boiling down 100 hours of a day’s events to a 3 hour program. But it also needs to preserve some of the liveness and variety that is the hallmark of web surfing. And then mix that together with Twitter so I can share the experience in real time with folks all over the world. Tall order.
It’ll be interesting to see what emerges out of this year’s Olympics as media producers figure out how to integrate the Internet into event programming. I’m impressed with what NBC is delivering online this year but it feels transitional, like the very beginnings of something new.