I’m really enjoying the Olympics. I’m not entirely sure why, I’m a hopeless skier and generally not what you would call an athlete, so I certainly can’t identify with the folks who take part. Maybe it’s because, as I get older, I start to appreciate just how dangerous these sports are. Freed of the invulnerability that youth confers, I’m finally sensitized to the danger of these sports. For most of the summer Olympic sports, sure, you could sprain an ankle. This year, for obvious reasons, we have a heightened awareness of the danger of sliding down snow and ice at speeds of 90mph.
And with that sensitivity comes admiration and awe.
Which I don’t share for the television coverage.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy the actual TV show here in the US. Bob, Al, Chris etc… enjoyable commentary, superior angles of coverage… it’s all good. No, my issue is TAPE DELAY as an instructive lesson in how you tax your customers and damage your long term business.
First, it’s painfully in-your-face obvious, here on the west coast, that there is tape delay. It can’t be pitch black in San Francisco and sunny in Vancouver.
Second, we expect live sports to be live. And it’s ridiculous to ask us to “avoid” the results. Heck the Wall Street Journal – yes, the Journal – carried the live news of the US/Canada hockey game last night right there on its home page. I couldn’t open up the website of a business newspaper without seeing the result. So, even on a Sunday, there is no longer the suspense of live TV.
We know why they are doing it. Moving coverage to “prime time” which is, inconveniently, not the time that the sporting events occur, helps sell advertising. Except that it has the completely opposite effect in the long run – converting people to the real existential threat for advertising paid television – TIVO. If I can’t watch it live, I might as well TIVO it, so I can skip the commercials. And now I’m mad that I didn’t get the chance to enjoy the suspense of seeing if Bodie could actually win the gold on the slalom leg.
I’m a promoter of the Olympics, a detractor of the network strategy and bearish on the long term business model that drives customers away from live sports – the only remaining defensible segment of the advertising driven television market.