Global CIO: NBC's Olympics Web Strategy Pounds Another Nail In Coffin - InformationWeek
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Bob Evans
Bob Evans

Global CIO: NBC's Olympics Web Strategy Pounds Another Nail In Coffin

In trying to force web viewers to watch the Olympics on NBC's terms, the network showed how pathetically out of touch it is with that vital audience.

While this profound question from a frustrated viewer is aimed at NBC's Olympics programming strategy, it applies equally well to any business whose product or marketing strategies are centered on what's convenient for the company instead of what's appealing to customers: "Why do broadcasters of the Olympics make it so hard to watch the Olympics?"

You would think the broadcasters would want to make it easy instead of hard.

You would think that after paying about $820 million for the broadcasting rights to the Winter games, NBC would do everything in its power to make it simple and painless for watchers to watch.

You would think that here in 2010, a company like NBC in the technology-immersed media business would understand the need for seamless linkage between its TV and web programming.

And you would think that a company whose traditional business has been under brutal assault from a globally pervasive alternative technology would rapidly adapt to the preferences and desires of the devotees of that new technology.

Yeah, you would think that—but apparently, none of that ever crossed NBC's mind.

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But before we all start laughing too hard at NBC's head-in-the-sand approach to web video, let's take a look at our own businesses and ask ourselves if all—not some, but all—of our online strategies and approaches are designed from end to end to thrill and delight customers, or to make life more manageable for us. Be honest now: how much is corporate convenience versus customer commitment? (For some other examples of how CIOs need to be thinking about emerging business models, be sure to check out our "Recommeded Reading" list at the bottom of this column.)

The question at the top of this column—"Why do broadcasters of the Olympics make it so hard to watch the Olympics?"—comes from a Wall Street Journal letter to the editor, and I've included the entire text of the 3-paragraph letter below because it is a simple but powerful reminder to all of us that old-world approaches like "account control" don't do so well in the age of the internet. And I urge you to share it with any and all of your colleagues in IT or marketing or product development or any other facet of the organization that engages with customers online. Here's the entire letter to the editor from Virginia Citrano of Verona, New Jersey:

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