The 2012 Summer Olympics have finally kicked off, and while NBC has been boasting about the digital options it's offering US sports fans, the broadcaster offered no live streaming of the opening ceremonies, instead funneling viewers towards its tape-delayed primetime broadcast this evening. NBC has now defended the decision to the Los Angeles Times, telling the paper in an emailed statement that the ceremonies "are complex entertainment spectacles that do not translate well online because they require context, which our award-winning production team will provide for the large prime-time audiences that gather together to watch them."
However, in the same statement NBC also touts that it is streaming every event from all 32 sports — a massive expanse of coverage that will no doubt demand even more context than the staged entertainment extravaganza that is the Opening Ceremony. As for the issue of translation to the second screen, it's also hard to ignore the fact that NBCUniversal has no problem with viewers watching big-budget spectacles on their computers when it comes to other properties.
Of course, as a strict business decision NBC's choice makes sense. The Opening Ceremony brought in the second-highest night of ratings for the network's 2008 Olympic coverage, ranking only behind the night Michael Phelps set a new record for Olympic gold medals. Given its online commitment to other areas of this year's Summer Games, however, we can't help but wish NBC had decided to go all the way — because as the Huffington Post's Ethan Klapper points out, tonight's context left something to be desired.