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The reviews are in, and they’re not very good.
Customers who signed up for NBCUniversal’s streaming service to watch the Tokyo Games are raising hell over their viewing experience even as ratings for the 2021 Olympics plummet.
Subscribers to NBCU’s Peacock streaming service flooded Reddit message boards over the weekend to complain about a lack of live streaming and glitches in their commercial-free viewing, among other concerns.
“I signed up for Peacock premium for the Olympics and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to watch live. What is going on?,” one user lamented. “For all the time I spent trying to figure out how to watch after paying, I could have found pirated streams hours ago. Is it even possible?”
Despite advertising Peacock as the place to go for all things Olympic, Peacock is only live-streaming certain events, including gymnastics, track and field, and men’s basketball, sources said.
What’s more, if fans missed the live stream, they may need to wait days to catch replays of their favorite athletes performing.
The women’s gymnastic all around final, for example, is set to air live on Peacock Tuesday morning 6:45 a.m. Fans who are unable to catch the early-morning finale will have to wait until July 31 for the replay, the company has said.
“Omg it’s absolutely the worst!!!,” another Reddit viewer griped. “You would think streaming would be a godsend for the multisport olympics, but no, nbc had to go and screw it up. Nothing is on demand, i have to wait for replays at a scheduled time?!”
Yet another user complained of having forked over $9.99 for an ad-free experience only to be forced to forced to watch blank screens where the commercial breaks had been.
“I’ve been trying to watch the Olympics opening ceremony, and apparently every time the LIVE air had commercials, you get a screen saying “Coverage Will Resume Shortly” on the REPLAYS. You have to Fast Forward manually to skip through them… I didn’t pay an extra $5 with No Ads to get a black screen every five minutes on a REPLAY,” the user griped. “What they’re doing right now is so lazy and effortless, I was EXTREMELY disappointed.”
Peacock charges users nothing for limited programming with ads; $4.99 a month for unlimited shows, replays and daily live-streamed events with ads — and $9.99 a month for unlimited ad-free programming.
The gripes come as NBC over the weekend said ratings for the opening ceremony hit a 33-year low, cratering to 17 million.
That spells trouble for the network — and its all-important streaming service — regardless of the live streaming and other complaints, according to media analyst Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson
“NBCUniversal invested a great deal of expectations in how the Olympics would launch Peacock,” the analyst said. “I think the writing is already on the wall.”
For over a year now, Jeff Shell, who helms NBCU has positioned Peacock as a full-service hub for all things Olympics. The network pinned Peacock’s launch to the 2020 Tokyo Games but the event was delayed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The streamer launched anyway and has had ample time to build up its inventory of profiles on Olympic athletes, vignettes on the best USA squads to grace Tokyo and to streamline its offering.
“At the end of the day the Olympics are a made-for-TV event and we are in a post-TV world,” Moffett said. “There are going to be some hard questions asked about whether the Olympics are ever going to achieve the kind of level of interest they had achieved in the golden era of television.”
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