London Olympics Proved Value of Streaming

NBC Sports Group President Litner: TV Everywhere Is a Reality

NEW YORK — NBC Sports Group’s digital coverage of the 2012 London Olympics this past summer, which featured a total of 159.3 million video streams (64.4 million of them were live), proved that the online streaming model works for sports.

“The model worked,” Jon Litner, group president for NBC Sports Group, said at the Multichannel News/B&C OnScreen Media Summit. “We were able to not in any way cannibalize our audience.”

Litner, who argued that the live streaming actually helped the television ratings, added. “TV Everywhere, I think, is reality … It’s called ‘TV Everywhere’ for a reason.”

Younger viewers don’t care how they watch sports, as long as they can view events live, he said. “When it comes to sports, it’s perishable.”

Litner was bullish on the future of live-event streaming. “Everyone who is in the ecosystem [is] getting a much better understanding of the opportunities that are around with TV Everywhere,” he said.

Both NBC Sports Network and the company’s regional sports channels have been hit hard by the ongoing National Hockey League lockout, Litner said. NBC Sports Network has aired more college football and basketball and original programming to take up some of the space, “which is fine, but we’d love the NHL to come back soon.”

Finding replacement programming for the RSNs is more difficult, he said, because those nets are geared specifically around specific teams.

“Our networks are built on the affinity [the fans] have with their own teams,” he said. “Nothing truly, is going to replace what they care most about.”

When asked his thoughts on Fox’s recent sports deals, including the 49% acquisition of New Yorkbased RSN YES Network and its billion-dollar negotiations with the Los Angles Dodgers, Litner quipped: “I don’t know how Fox looks at things, but I assume they have smart people.”

“I don’t know where it’s all going,” Litner said of rising sport costs. “I think that everybody has to look at markets through their own lens.”