Missed Opportunities for Beijing Olympic Broadcasters - It’s the Internet Stupid

In my previous post I ranted a bit about how YouTube was removing videos of the 2008 Beijing Opening Ceremonies. I still think its rather silly and a massive mistake on the part of the broadcast networks that are licensed to cover the Olympics.

The websites of NBC, CBC and the BBC, the networks providing Olympic content to the US, Canada and the UK, still have minimal footage of the Opening ceremonies online. I think this is a foolish mistake and a huge disservice to their paying advertisers. Why? They are not feeding the demand.

The Unsatisfied Demand for Opening Ceremony Video

This particular Olympic games are quite important/significant simply because they are being held in China. So what does China do? Put on the most spectacular/breathtaking opening ceremonies of all time. And we all want to see it, online. And see it again.

It was estimated that 1 Billion people watch the opening ceremony live on television. So there are 5 Billion who did not. How many of them now want to see the opening show? How many of the 1 Billion that did see would like to see it again?

To get a sense for the demand out there we can see how people are searching for the Beijing Games opening ceremonies on the internet. Here is what Google trends tells us;

Search demand for opening ceremony content

I added a few other terms as a baseline to compare against. We have “used cars”, “new cars” and “britney spears”. The one term I’ve chosen “beijing opening ceremonies” trumps them all. Not to mention that vast number of variants on that term such as;

  • 2008 olympic games opening ceremonies
  • beijing games opening ceremonies
  • opening ceremony 2008 olympics
  • opening ceremony video
  • etc.
  • etc…

In fact the term I chose for the graph above is among the lower traffic ones. Take a look here;

More opening ceremony search terms

And to get a sense for the demand on YouTube we can look at the search suggestions. As I begin to type “olympic”, and only get 3 letters in, the first suggestion is “olympics opening ceremony beijing”. See screen shot below.

Beijing ceremonies search demand on U Tube

And we see 3 other versions of the same search there in the top 10.

Obviously the demand is massive. But people are not finding what they are looking for.

It All Comes Down to Copyright

Yes, its the damn f*cktards, err…. I mean lawyers.

This from Wikipedia;

Globally the 2008 Olympics is subject to extensive copyright restriction –which amounts to territorial restrictions– whilst still being covered extensively online within various exclusive copyright autarkies. Thus despite the international nature of the event and the global reach of the Internet, the coverage world wide of assorted nation-states and television networks is not readily accessible; there is no global or supranational media coverage as such. The international European Broadcasting Union (EBU), for example, provides live coverage and highlights of all arenas only for certain of its own territories on their website eurovisionsports.tv. Many national broadcasters likewise restrict online events to their domestic audiences.

YouTube has removed a video of a regional German network’s (NDR) coverage of the opening ceremonies as “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by a third party.; a video from Australia’s Seven Network has been removed “for violation of terms of service.” Furthermore, the General National Copyright Administration of China has announced that “individual (sic) and websites will face fines as high as 100,000 yuan for uploading recordings of Olympic Games video to the internet,” part of an extensive campaign to protect the pertinent intellectual property rights.

Still, it’s no excuse for the piss poor display of content on the actual websites of the networks that are allowed to display it.

My Recommendations

So what are these major networks currently doing with their online footage of the opening ceremonies? Firstly they make it very difficult to find with piss poor video archiving systems on their sites. Secondly the footage they do have is just highlights. Ugg.

In fact, I cant find anything on the BBC. On the CBC I can find what appears to be a full video in here, you’ll have to hunt around inside the archive to find it. I can’t get it to play though(I am in Canada so they are not blocking me, maybe i need a new flash player?). And on NBC you can find some highlights mixed in amongst the other videos here .

So, NBC, CBC, BBC and others, listen up.

  • Place video footage of the opening ceremonies on a dedicated page, dedicated to the opening ceremony. Link to it from your main Beijing Olympics coverage page, heck throw a link from your home page for a while.
  • Put the entire opening ceremonies on that page, not just highlights. Can be broken up into separate video files so its easier for people to download and watch.
  • Surround page with advertising spots. duh!
  • Us IP filters to keep the foreign riff raff out, if you must.
  • Put a short little highlight reel on YouTube, inside your YouTube channel, about opening ceremonies footage. Minimal amount of footage, it’s just a teaser anyways and use it to promote the page you have on your site where they can go to view to rest of the opening ceremonies. (link to it in video description text and display a prominent link on the video itself)
  • Don’t force users to install some new plugin they dont already have for common use already, i.e. Silverlight on NBC.

The big thing is ensuring each video gets it’s own actual web page and that those pages are search engine friendly so they can actually be found.
Imagine how much traffic these networks are missing out on. Imagine how much their paying advertisers would love to have those eyeballs viewing their ads.

I believe that for upcoming Olympic games they will be doing things differently when it comes to the internet. These games are showing just how important web viewing has become yet nobody seems prepared to handle it well just yet.

Two more years and the Winter Olympics are held in Vancouver. Maybe they can get it together by then. CBC, you listening?

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3 Comments to “Missed Opportunities for Beijing Olympic Broadcasters - It’s the Internet Stupid”

kim (20 comments.) on August 13th, 2008 wrote:

Why are they being so incredibly short sighted? The ad viewing potential that they are turning a blind eye to is enormous and will undoubtedly royally piss off their ad clients (if said clients ever realize the scope of the loss.) What do you think the chances of this being corrected by 2010 are?
I say slim to none.

thomas on October 10th, 2008 wrote:

i half and half agree with you. it drives me nuts that i cant see the opening ceremonies but these are the chinese were talking about… theyve been trying to isloate themselves from us, and alot of other countrys for hundreds of years. this is another great way for them to PISS AMERICA OFF!

Stever on October 10th, 2008 wrote:

thomas, it had nothing to do with China itself, it was entirely the Olympic Committee and the sanctioned broadcasters. These were the first Olympics in the era of YouTube, and being in China there was something special about these games, and the scale of the ceremonies. Had these olympics been held anywhere else it would have been the same in regards to internet access to video footage.

It comes down to the IOC and the old school media companies not fully understanding the internet.

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