NBC to put Olympics on the web ...

... but only for Vista.

And if you read this closely it is actually just for Vista Media Center. Limiting the audience like this is interesting given this quote from the above press release by an NBC Senior VP: “As we prepare to broadcast the Beijing Olympic Games, we are committed to reaching as many viewers as possible”. If reaching as many viewers as possible was a real priority, wouldn't a technology that ran on more than just one variant of the Vista (how many Vista users are on Media Center and how many Windows users aren't even on Vista yet?) let alone trying to be multi-OS (Mac? Linux?) or multi-platform (iPod?) be high on the list?

And after reading this and this it appears the content should be available "roughly 12 hours after an event ends" but not after the Olympics are over. And it isn't just this service that is that is limited but "all video at the NBC Olympics site requires Silverlight, Microsoft's rich web application and video streaming technology that competes with Adobe's market-dominant Flash".

To be fair, a quick visit to NBCOlympics.com shows that watching at least some video on the site does only require installing Silverlight and there is in fact an install for Mac OS X, but not Linux, and it doesn't appear for any mobile video devices. Perhaps this will be the case for a variety of video clips and it is only the full content from the original story above that is limited to Vista.

Regardless, this still reeks of a vendor using a relationship with the content rights owner extend a platform monopoly which may not be in the best interest of the consumer. I'm sure Silverlight provides some whiz-bang capabilities that may make the experience of watching better, but forcing consumers to move to Vista or even install yet another plug-in when there are perfectly adequate ways to provide video content (even some from the vendors existing bag of technology) seems wrong. If Silverlight really is better, provide the content in both forms and let the consumer decide if installing the plug-in or moving to Vista is in their interest.
Comments:

Hi Kevin, I think it's the "download-and-view" model which requires Vista Premium or Ultimate, while streaming video is open to Windows Media Player (or optionally Silverlight).

And that's just the NBCOlympics.com franchise for North America... there are different distributions in other areas, and Akamai has a whole parallel video channel for news services and resyndicators.

More links here:
http://blogs.adobe.com/jd/2008/06/olympics_video_news.html

jd/adobe

Posted by John Dowdell on June 27, 2008 at 08:14 AM PDT #

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