Behind the scenes – and creating the scenes – at the Sochi Games are the big media players like NBC. A giant aggregator of American audiences, NBC is covering the Games as NBC Universal Olympics, part of their sports group. NBC Olympics is partnering with Adobe to stream content from the Cloud across multiple screens.
To login to NBCs TV Everywhere service, however, viewers will have to be subscribers to expensive cable or satellite TV services. NBC is ramping up its efforts to interest users in TV Everywhere by offering a free pass that is good for 30 minutes of live Olympics coverage on smartphones and tablets. Rick Cordella, NBC Sports vice president of digital distribution, said: “It’s a big step forward for the industry. I think it will engage a lot of people.”
However, is making people stay tethered to cable or satellite subscriptions to view the Olympics on their mobile devices really a “step forward”? A growing number of “cord cutters” – viewers who access media through digital antenna or the internet rather than cable – are not willing to comply.
Cord cutters have defected en masse in recent years to media sources such as Apple TV, Hulu, and Netflix. The percentage of people who have made this shift is still relatively small in the US, where, according to data from Centris Marketing Science, 8% of households got rid of their paid subscriptions in quarter 3 of 2013; double Q1s 4%.
The growing trend is one that the cable industry is trying to head off by promoting TV Everywhere; especially since the number of pay – TV subscribers dropped 3% from Q3 to Q1 in 2013. Is the pay TV market crumbling? Is cord cutting pointing toward new models of content consumption?
Some people don’t wish to cut the cord because it involves figuring out how to configure their devices. NBC is providing instructional videos for its TV Everywhere mobile coverage. Those in the US who wish to watch the Olympics without accruing a large cable bill are likely to be motivated to work out an alternative, however, like masking their IP addresses to access live streaming video from the BBC. As cord cutting gets easier, however, TV Everywhere may end up going nowhere.