Posted by: lsinrc | February 24, 2010

The Olympics (and Big Media) is Losing this Viewer

I was excited about the Olympics, I really was. I am in the middle of some house remodeling (hence the long sabbatical from the blog), so I had the screen on in the background while working hour after hour. I probably heard more Winter Olympics the first few days than I had in the in the last 3 Olympics combined. Because I was working, I sometimes missed the visuals, so I went to NBCOlympics.com to catch some of what I missed. What I found is that after viewing just a few short clips, it required me to sign in to view more. Here was the first problem–it never warned me I had a limit for clips to watch; I would have chosen different clips if I had known it was limited.

So I start going through the process–it required I chose my cable provider, Knology, and the next screen wanted me to input my knology.net email and password. Here was the second problem: I am at rushmore.com (purchased by knology.net). So I called tech support and of course they did not have a clue what I was talking about. They were good enough to try giving me a knology.net account on the spot, but it did not work.  I later had a message from the next level of tech support that because I only had Internet and telephone, not cable TV, in my package, it would not work to get in to NBCOlympics.com.

I can understand why the content broadcast on the NBC cable affiliates be limited to cable subscribers, but shouldn’t the over-the-airwaves NBC content be available to all? Major media just does not get it–the role of the online clips is to 1) get new viewers they didn’t get with the live broadcast (they still get the eyeballs for the advertising, even if it is less lucrative advertising) and 2) reignite the viewers they did have. The online clips should help generate excitement to bring viewership back to the live material over the long span. The frustrations I had trying to view the clips did just the opposite–I gradually lost interest in both.

Add to that hearing from Buzz Out Loud about the IOC coming down on a company with a cease and desist for just congratulating Lindsey Vonn–talk about anti-Olympic spirit! Uvex’s response was perfect with a whimsical poem that fit the nonsense of the situation (they evidently had to take down the poem so you must resort to Google cache to view the original).

Big media (music industry, television, movies, sports franchises, Apple Computer) just doesn’t get it–heavy-handed tactics reduce sales by inadvertently hurting fans, whereas user flexibility increases interest and sales. I used to be an iTunes customer, but I got disgusted with their control-freak tactics and now I purchase elsewhere (I still get gift cards so I occasionally buy there yet). I now tend to buy more small-fry independent artists who give away some of their songs free than I do any big artists. The point is, I am not a indignant zealot boycotting music and sports service–I am both a music and sports fan. But I am losing interest with their pathetic tight-control money-grabbing tactics. It is too bad–I actually WANT to be a  fan and customer if they would just make their services/products more flexible with fewer barriers.

There is a simple message for educators in all of this–if you create too many barriers (filters, tightly locked-down computers, or overly-rigid policies), users either lose interest or look elsewhere–even the “fans” of technology. Who is the loser when users quit using technology at school? Ultimately it is student learning.

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