The NY Times published an interesting front page article (Aug 9) and online post discussing how NBC attempted to block web sites hosting video clips and live feeds of the Olympic Games opening ceremonies in the United States. According to the Times article NBC “sent frantic requests” to web sites asking them to remove videos and feeds of the Olympic ceremonies – amounting to a game of “digital whack-a-mole”. Web sites including YouTube (Google) and Justin.tv pulled down clips, but could not keep up with users who traded links via Blogs and Twitter to stay ahead of NBC. NBC was attempting to protect its’ TV broadcast coverage of the ceremonies which were tape delayed and presented in the USA during the evening hours on Friday August 8, a full 12 hours after the opening ceremonies actually occurred.

So why is this interesting for a Citrix marketing type like me? This interests me because NBC had an opportunity to engage its user community – and didn’t. User communities are a fundamental component of today’s and presumably tomorrow’s web, and at Citrix we are fortunate to have a long-standing and vibrant user community that Citrix needs to engage with and make successful. Citrix has a renewed focus and commitment to make our community more successful via the newly re-designed and enhanced Citrix Communities site. We care about our users and our community and are investing to help make our community successful.

Is there more to this NBC video thing beyond the notion that traditional media outlets like NBC apparently still don’t get the net, or that video has finally arrived on the net? NBC is posting thousands of hours of its Olympic Games coverage online, using Microsoft® Silverlight™ technology, so they do get the net, or do they? (this Silverlight aspect is a topic for another blog – can you say DRM!) NBC’s decision not to live stream coverage of the opening ceremonies might be considered somewhat odd. NBC is obviously working to manage access to its Olympic video footage in an attempt to maximize its audience so as to charge higher advertising rates. This all makes sense – old school sense – or rather cents!

I’m sensing NBC has missed a glorious opportunity to engage its community who could have supplied content snips from their perspective, content that could have extended the NBC viewpoint. This user supplied content could have been a great complement to live streaming feeds of NBC’s “official” Olympic games opening coverage – if NBC had in fact supplied a live internet feed. They have the infrastructure -see myNBC.com. My searches on myNBC.com turned up 2 Olympic Games clips, both of which returned “the requested video is not available” message”…

NBC blew a significant opportunity to begin re-inventing themselves to be more than just a source of content created in-house and to begin engaging and fostering a user community of associate content providers. Many news outlets, CNN, Fox News are attempting to leverage user supplied content to support their official coverage – NBC missed the opportunity to build their community and leverage the Olympics.