NBC Skimps on Online Olympics Coverage — Again

Don’t expect to watch the 2010 Winter Olympics live online — unless you like cross-country skiing. NBC Sports has released its coverage schedule for the Vancouver games, and once again, it has made the decision to keep marquee events from being shown live online. Despite touting more than 835 hours of live video from the Winter Games, less than half of that will be actually be streamed live online.

As usual, the company is saving premiere events — figure skating and alpine skiing — for broadcast on NBC network, along with freestyle skiing, speed skating, snowboarding, and short track. Meanwhile, the various cable nets, including USA, CNBC and MSNBC, will have extensive live coverage of sports like ice hockey, the biathlon, and curling. But none of that will be live online; instead, the remaining 400 hours of live coverage on NBCOlympics.com will consist primarily of events like bobsledding, cross-country skiing, the luge and snowboarding.

The situation is similar to what happened during the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, when NBC touted more than 2,200 hours of live Olympic coverage on NBCOlympics.com and a total of 3,000 hours of on-demand video. In that case, the remaining 800 hours were events that were scheduled for live broadcast on NBC and the company’s cable networks. (Unfortunately, NBC didn’t take our suggestion to get rid of tape delays for online video.)

The big difference between the 2010 Winter Games and the 2008 Summer Games is that this year, NBC plans to tie online access to its coverage of the events to an authentication scheme that will determine whether or not users have a cable subscription. So live, streaming video at NBCOlympics.com will only be available to those that have paid for cable access.

So between the lack of live events online and the authentication scheme, you can expect that a number of users will seek alternative ways of finding Olympics video, just as they did in 2008.

Tweeting the End of the Washington Times Sports Section

wsjfired

The Washington, D.C. area is about to become a one-newspaper sports town with the demise of the Washington Times‘ sports section, announced Dec. 30 by the conservative paper’s top brass. The Unification Church-run paper slashed 40 percent of its staff and will focus on national news and politics, while shuttering its Sunday edition.

While the writers may be out of a job, they haven’t quit tweeting about the end of an era at the paper.

RT @SI_PeterKing RIP @TWTSports. We have got to find David Elfin a job. He is one of the best beat men in America, covering any sport.

#10yearsago we had a sports section. Some decade.

Teams that won: Unification Church RT @dcsportsbog Teams that lost their last home game with TWT beat writer: Skins, Caps, Wiz, Terps BB, FB

RT matthewsbunch Looks like @washtimes killed the most respectable section of its newspaper. Au revoir, @TWTsports.

The future is unclear for most of the sports writers, as Washington Nationals beat writer Ben Goessling said in his own goodbye. There was also this from his colleague, Mark Zuckerman, who said “Hopefully, by the time Opening Day 2010 rolls around, I’ll be stationed somewhere in the press box at Nationals Park. Maybe a few seats down the row. Maybe tucked away in the far, rear corner. Maybe not there at all.”

The end of the WT sports section also brought out the best in their cross-town rivals, the sports folks at the Washington Post. Dan Steinberg at WaPo’s Sports Bog explains all the reasons he is going to miss his competition, which covered things like lacrosse, combat sports, sports media and the business of sports in ways WaPo doesn’t. He also lamented the said reality of what happens when a newspaper loses its competition.

Aside from the general lament about so many good people losing their jobs in such a shoddy way, the worst thing about this news is that it hurts D.C. as a sports town. Sports towns have rollicking media contingents, packs of beat writers, inter-paper feuds and all the rest. They have columnists with rival sport-talk shows on at the same time, and they have beat writers whispering covertly into cell phones while talking to editors, and they have hurt feelings and back-stabbings, and they have drunken group dart games after playoff wins during midwestern road trips.

Sure, bloggers are rapidly filling in the holes, and the Examiner does a lot with a small staff, and various Web sites are beefing up their coverage, but that’s no substitute for being a genuine two-paper town, with multiple full-time beat writers covering every team.


Multiplatform Coverage Boosts NBA Viewership, Engagement

NBA League Pass

NBA League Pass Mobile made with MobiTV

It’s still early in the season, but the National Basketball Association is having a record year in terms of web video traffic and overall TV viewership — growth the league is attributing to a mutliplatform strategy that includes broader TV distribution, more in-depth online coverage and the availability of hundreds of mobile apps.

NBA TV has seen its distribution increase to 45 million homes, and the league says fan engagement has increased dramatically over the 2009/2010 season. Fan Night voting on NBA.com, for example, in which fans get to pick the featured game on NBA TV, is up more than 239 percent for the season, with 100,000-plus votes being cast for each game.

Viewers aren’t just tuning in to the TV broadcasts of NBA games, but watching huge amounts of video on the NBA.com web site as well. The league says video views online are up some 50 percent over this time last year, with 215 million streams from around the world.

The NBA’s mobile strategy has also been highly distributed, with the league introducing more than 100 mobile apps across the iPhone app store, the Android market and BlackBerry App World. In addition to its NBA League Pass Mobile app, which costs $39.99 and enables fans to watch live video from their mobile devices, the league has issued an NBA Game Time app ($9.99) with scores and stats from across the league, and apps for each individual NBA team ($3.99 each).

Sports leagues like the NBA are increasingly turning to a multiplatform strategy as a way to reach fans wherever they happen to be, on whichever device they’re using, at any given time. Major League Baseball pioneered multiplatform distribution with its MLB.tv online video product and the release last year of its MLB.com At Bat application. And NBC’s multiplatform strategy for the 2008 Summer Olympics was incredibly successful at expanding the overall audience that watched the Games.



Where to Watch the 110th Army-Navy College Football Classic Online

Football fans, take notice: Tomorrow, it’s West Point vs. Annapolis, and when the service academy rivals meet up for the 110th time, CBS Sports will not only broadcast the game on TV, but stream it online for free.

Starting on 2:30 p.m. ET (that’s 11:30am for those of us on the West Coast), sports fans can tune into CBSSports.com for a live webcast of the the 110th Army-Navy College Football Classic. The game will also be available through CBS Sports’ Live College Games application that iPhone and iPod touch users can download from the iTunes App Store. Oh, and there will also be live streams on FLO TV and V CAST, so Verizon and AT&T customers without iPhones can join in on the fun as well.

As with previous broadcasts, the game will be streamed using Flash and offer a bunch of bells and whistles, including in-game stats, social network integration and live chat.

The Army-Navy match has been called America’s Game, and it’s traditionally been the culmination of the college football season. CBS Sport’s took this as a reason to give us a quick tally of its online efforts, nothing that over the course of the year, CBSSports.com has broadcasted audio and video webcasts of more than 11,000 games.

Granted, the numbers of fans tuning in online aren’t quite on par with TV audiences yet, but CBS Sports sees a growing demand. The recent SEC Championship game attracted 91,401 viewers consuming 144,236 total hours of live video. In 2008, only 39,369 fans tuned in online, according to the network.



Digitalsmiths Targets News, Sports Organizations With New Clipping Capabilities

Digitalsmiths reporting

Digitalsmiths reporting and analytics

Digitalsmiths is primarily known for enabling film studios like Warner Bros. to manage and distribute large video files with advanced metadata and search capabilities attached — but that could change with the newest version of its VideoSense platform. That’s because the company has built new clipping and editing capabilities into VideoSense 2.5, which could open up a whole new market opportunity for Digitalsmiths with news and sports organizations.

“Once an asset’s in the system, [our customers] don’t just want to get it from point A to point B, but they also want to be able to edit that asset,” Weinberger said in an interview with NewTeeVee. So the company developed a clip editing system within VideoSense that allows customers to quickly chop up a master file into shorter segments, creating whole new video assets to be managed within its system.

Because VideoSense recognizes different scenes, faces and objects to create metadata, the system can even suggest segments within a file for users to clip. And because the platform associates all metadata with a timestamp within the master file, when those segments are created, only the metadata that’s relevant to an individual clip will be transferred to the new video asset.

With the new editing and clipping capabilities, Digitalsmiths isn’t just serving film studios and TV programmers anymore — the company is also picking up customers in the news and sports industries. “This is a very powerful tool for them. They no longer need to have an editor sitting down with expensive editing equipment to create these clips,” Weinberger said.

The video clipping functionality is somewhat unique to Digitalsmiths in the white-label video management space, although TV indexing firm Critical Media offers similar capabilities to news organizations through its own Syndicaster platform. While Critical Media doesn’t have the same type of distribution capabilities as Digitalsmiths, it has a partnership to enable customers to distribute clips directly into Brightcove’s video management platform.

In addition to the new editing and clipping features, VideoSense 2.5 adds a couple of other product enhancements, including a new reporting and analytics dashboard that’s fully integrated into the publishing system. The new reporting system is designed to provide granular viewing data across all of an asset’s distribution points, while also enabling publishers to track viewership by metadata. By having access to that data, customers should be able to better monetize their assets, while also being able to make better future publishing decisions, Weinberger said.

Finally, the new version of VideoSense provides a direct way for users to upload an asset from their desktops, doing away with the need to move it between various FTP sites or watch folders. Using technology from Aspera, the direct upload feature also enables more efficient file transfers than customers would see otherwise.



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Where to Watch the Florida-Alabama SEC Championship Game Online

If you’re a college football fan, it doesn’t get much better than this: On Saturday, Dec. 5, No. 1 ranked Florida and No. 2 ranked Alabama will face off in the annual SEC Championship game. And for viewers who might not be able to tune in via oldteevee, the game will be streamed live online by CBS Sports.

For the second year in a row, CBS will make the SEC Championship game available online at CBSSports.com. Beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET, the company will offer live streaming of the game, complete with the same commentary from Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Tracy Wolfson that will be shown on the television broadcast. And after the game, CBS Sports will have on-demand video of player and coach interviews, game highlights and a game recap from the booth.

The online stream will be broadcast using Adobe Flash, and will include in-game stats, live chat, on-demand highlights and integration with multiple social-networking sites.

In addition to streaming online, CBS Sports will provide a mobile component. Customers who subscribe to the MediaFLO mobile video service will have access to the live video stream on their mobile devices, as will fans who have purchased the company’s CBS Sports: Live College Games iPhone app for $4.99.

The game will wrap up CBSSports.com’s coverage of the SEC online this year, which has consisted of the streaming of 15 games over the course of the college football season. CBS Sports streamed a number of other live sporting events online in 2009, including the NCAA Division Men’s Basketball Championship, the Masters Tournament and the U.S. Open Men’s Final. Over the course of the year, CBS Sports claims to have provided audio and video streams for more than 11,000 live events in 2009.



Vid-Biz: BBC, Sony, Blu-ray Sales

BBC Gives Technical Details of Its New iPlayer On the Wii; the U.K. broadcaster has encoded streams using H.264 at a 700 kbps bit rate, compared to 1.5 Mbps for regular TV or even 3.2 Mbps for HD. (BBC) Speaking of British TV, the U.K. version of YouTube debuted its new site section that hosts roughly 4,000 full-length programs. (Variety)

Silverlight 4 Beta Launches for Developers; new features include out-of-browser capabilities, advanced business application development, and native multicast and offline DRM support for video. (Ars Technica)

Sony Announces Plans for Digital Media Store; new Sony Online Service will sell music, movies, books, and other downloadable applications for mobile devices. (BusinessWeek)

Disney Launches Its First Branded Entertainment Channel; “The Possibility Shop” will be exclusively sponsored by Clorox and promote Clorox products. (Ad Age)

Blu-ray, DVD Sales Expected to Stabilize in 2010; high-definition Blu-ray DVD sales have yet to make up for the decline in standard def DVD sales in 2009. (Video Business)

Digiboo Does Partnership with Movie Gallery; deal will put 100 Digiboo movie kiosks (see previous coverage) in retail locations. (Video Business)

Grey’s Anatomy Gets a Web Spin-Off; Seattle Grace: On Call will be a six episode run that’s on immediately after Grey’s is aired. (The Hollywood Reporter)



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