Considering how badly NBC botched the television coverage of the Beijing Olympics, it comes as no surprise to learn their online coverage was beat out by Yahoo!
According to a story in the New York TImes, the Yahoo coverage, which did not have the benefit of being the "insider," outdrew the NBC site in average daily unique visitors, 4.7 million unique visitors for Yahoo’s coverage, compared to 4.3 million on the NBC Olympics site. AOL was a distant third, with 1.3 million daily uniques.
NBC served more than 1.2 billion pages and 72 million video streams through Saturday, according to the story, which is double their performance in the past two Olympics. This is not surprising, considering the rapid growth of broadband connectivity in the U.S., and the improved computer technology in the past eight years.
What also isn’t surprising is the fact that NBCOlympics.com held back Web coverage of major events, short-changing their online viewers much the same as they did the television viewers. Maybe Yahoo will bid for the online rights to a future Olympics, so anyone can get live access to the events.
I clearly recall the over-the-top coverage ABC gave Decathalon gold medalist Bruce Jenner in 1976 in Montreal. The winner of this event holds the non-official title of "World’s Greatest Athlete." Jenner deserved the coverage he got then, and the celebrity he has today because of his win. I wonder how many Americans know that fellow countryman Brian Clay brought home gold in the 2008 Olympics? His achievement was given about 20 seconds when I saw the wrap-up that preceded the tape-delayed closing ceremony Sunday evening. I did see snippets of taped coverage of his events on the secondary NBC channels, but he was treated like a non-entity compared to some other U.S. athletes (swimmers, gymnasts, volleyball players).
NBC was the ultimate under-achiever this go-round.