Watching the Olympics this year has been frustrating. NBC has game broadcasting rights in the United States, so it naturally took the opportunity to increase the number of Peacock streaming subscribers by making it a “place on the balcony for game highlights.” Streaming the Olympics should have been as easy as registering – except that it wasn’t.
Peacock cover was a problem right from the gate. opening ceremony was not streamed as a live service at all (although the final ceremony will be), although it was streamed live on the NBC Olympics website. The service is a men’s basketball wall that apparently adds to Peacock’s paid plans. And while most other games and events are available live and on-demand coverage on Peacock, figuring out what’s out there and where to watch has been tedious, comparable to browsing a cable TV guide.
Watching Peacock also means losing one of NBC’s biggest promises for 2020 games: 4K coverage. Peacock does not support 4K, although 4K feeds for games are available on other streaming services. (Peacock spokesman said Limit that the delivery of 4K content is on its roadmap.)
This means you have to turn to a TV or live TV service if you want to watch in 4K format. But 4K coverage has its own problems. Availability has been inconsistent in the U.S. – it depends on where you are, what service you have subscribed to, and what programming you are watching. For example, YouTube TV and Comcast will offer 4K Olympics coverage in dozens of major cities, but other services like FuboTV and Verizon Fios offer it in just a few. If you are outside these areas, good luck.
NBC also offers 4K coverage for certain games only at certain times. NBC’s live broadcast is streamed in 4K format sometimes, in some places, while other markets only get 4K replay the next day. This can be a real embarrassment if you pay extra for 4K features on a service like YouTube with its recently launched service 4K Plus accessory. While all 4K Plus subscribers can see live events on the Olympic Channel and Golf Channel, as well as NBC re-broadcasts the next day, NBC’s 4K show schedule is limited about 50 markets.
Basically, some people get live NBC showtime in 4K, while others don’t. A YouTube TV spokesman said it needed all the 4K coverage NBC offered for the service. NBCUniversal did not respond to several requests for comments as to why 4K support was available in certain markets and not in others.
Despite the great cheer of NBC broadcast the Olympics in 4K format, it is unclear whether the 4K material provided by NBC is actually flat in 4K format. Speaking to David Mazza, director of NBC IBC reported that NBC converted some 1080p inputs to 4K. NBC does not confirm when asked whether the inputs are 4K or scaled to 1080p Limit.
In addition to the technical limitations, there has also been some confusion in finding different Olympic venues. Live programming is spread across several different channels due to the scope of the games – the USA Network, CNBC, NBCSN, Olympic Channel, Golf Channel and Telemundo all carry coverage – so much so that NBC Olympics is regularly published guides help find what is. Peacock’s first digital platform could have been a huge help in sorting out the confusion, but NBC just translated the channel translation experience into its application, offering little advantage to wire-cutters. If you want to watch any of the games live, you may need to do more footwork to find them.
A Peacock spokesman said the service is currently experimenting and using what it has learned to announce its coverage at the Beijing Olympics in 2022. The spokesman also said there was no streaming of the final ceremony at Peacock during the opening. there was no ceremony.
For many users, the Olympics were probably the first time they had a reason to subscribe to Peacock, which offers both a free and ad-supported level and two paid levels (one with limited ads and one without ads). And joining the Tokyo 2020 games seems to be working. According to recent data from app analysis company App Annie, Peacock’s mobile downloads grew 60 percent in the early days of the Olympics.
But in practice, the streaming of the Olympics – and in particular the opportunity to access some events in real time and at a higher resolution – has been a mess. Offering games at Peacock was about increasing NBCUniversal’s high-stakes Hail Mary subscriptions to subscribers and hopefully getting users to catch up on post-event events. But somewhere along the way something got lost in the mix. And instead, we ended up with a complex system that made streaming an even bigger headache than it already is.