Streaming, Ads, and Subscriptions

Yesterday’s post on streaming the Olympics vs watching them on TV produced some great comments. 

A lot of them were about the crappy video quality and heavy ad load on the stream. I am not sure what to take from that but it is clear that NBC has not yet made their streaming experience as high of a priority in terms of user experience as they could and should.

But the more interesting conversation to me was about the business model for streaming the Olympics on phones, tablets, and smart TVs. A number of readers pointed out that the streams use the same business model (advertising) as broadcast TV and so the ad loads will be the same and just as annoying.

But I think the broadcasters like NBC have an opportunity to take a page out of the playbook of the streaming music companies like Spotify and SoundCloud and offer both free ad supported streams and subscription streams that are ad free and offer offline sync (record and playback later).

Would you pay for a $19.99 in-app upgrade on your NBC Sports app to remove ads and get offline sync for the entire 17 days of the Summer Olympics? I know I would but I also know that I am less price conscious than most AVC readers. Please weigh in on that in the comments.

The broadcast television companies have been advertising supported businesses for the most part. In recent years they have been able to get retransmission fees and start getting paid for their programming from the cable operators but I think the subscription opportunity in the streaming world is significant for them, particularly when it comes to big events like the Olympics.

I looked around for a subscription based app for NBC Sports and found something called NBC Sports Gold but that looks like an experiment that doesn’t support the main events like the Olympics. I hope we will see the main events make it onto something like that in the coming years. I think it would be great for viewers and for the broadcasters as well.