NBC to Stream Entire 2012 Summer Olympics Live

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NBC will stop being stingy and embrace live streaming for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

All 32 Olympic sports will be streamed live at nbcolympics.com, the New York Times reports. NBC’s advertising website indicated last month that all games would stream live, but then the network backpedaled, telling The Next Web that some live games might only appear on NBC’s broadcast or cable channels.

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Rick Cordella, vice president and general manager of NBC Sports Digital Media, set the record straight. “Whatever is on schedule that day, if cameras are on it, we’ll stream it,” he told the Times.

For the 2010 Winter Olympics, NBC only streamed hockey and curling live, while tape-delaying all other sports to protect its primetime TV business model. In an age of on-demand content, NBC’s strategy looked ridiculous, especially when spoilers abound on news sites and social networks. NBC was rightfully panned for its approach.

What changed? Cordella said the network is no longer afraid of cannibalizing its evening broadcasts. Research shows that live streaming can actually increase primetime viewership, he said, because an exciting event builds buzz that causes more people to tune in. (I’m guessing NBC didn’t want to get slammed by viewers and the press again, either.)

Still, NBC isn’t entirely giving up protection for primetime. Although live streaming will be available for all sports, archives for major events won’t go online until sometime after they’ve aired on TV. However, events that aren’t scheduled for primetime will be archived immediately. No need to panic if you don’t catch synchronized swimming in real time.

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