Online Viewers Respond
Meanwhile, the Silverlight Olympics experience is helping to create new communities online.One equestrian fan, Suzanne Garofalo, wrote: "Thank you so much for the awesomely complete coverage you are providing on all of the Equestrian activities at the 2008 Olympic Games. We horse people are fanatics just like many other sports followers and have felt a little left out in years past but we understand that most Americans don't care about Equestrian and that air time is precious and that it doesn't make good business sense to spend much air time on a mostly unknown or little understood sport." Another online viewer, Tom Pennello, wrote: "The live and recorded video streams are excellent. I've been able to catch bike races I couldn't catch live (because I was out cycling myself!) I wasn't near a TV for the opening ceremonies-but never mind! Your recording was there waiting for me." And I have to say I'm a user of the online capability presented by NBC and Microsoft. I tend to like boxing and soccer-two sports that haven't had a ton of network coverage in prime time, but I've been able to watch online. But mostly, like nearly everyone else in my hometown of Baltimore, I'm digging the NBC Olympics site so I can watch video of homeboy Michael Phelps! That's right. Homeboys make some noise! Michael Phelps swam out of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club for years. So did fellow U.S. Olympian Katie Hoff, who so far has won a silver and a bronze medal in this year's Olympics. Phelps has broken the record for an Olympic athlete, making him the most decorated Olympian ever with 11 gold medals so far. Some have even taken to calling him the greatest ever. Well, he at least has to break Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals at one Olympics before that. It's likely he will, but greatest ever is still too strong for me. Moreover, Carmelo Anthony, who grew up playing basketball in the hard courts of the city, is representing Baltimore on the U.S. men's basketball team. I missed the game against China the other day, but caught it online via Silverlight. That game has been hailed as the most watched basketball game in history, largely because there are so many Chinese viewers and Chinese hero Yao Ming and company were taking on superstars from the NBA. But I believe it also was partly because the online capability enabled even more folks to watch. So what happens to Silverlight after the Olympics? Well, unless there is some major failure in the following days of the games, the technology will have definitely placed that solid "stake in the ground" that Goldfarb talked about. It will gain momentum. But it will have a tough time unseating Flash. Antitrust issues? I don't believe so. I don't know and I don't really care. All I know is it works and I get to see things I'd typically miss.
"We get a phenomenal amount of feedback from users," Goldfarb said. Microsoft and NBC set up a feedback alias that receives about two e-mails per minute, he said. And in terms of feedback, Goldfarb said he has seen "pockets of communities" crop up from people who typically do not have access to coverage of sports like the equestrian events, fencing and air rifle, thanking NBC for providing the coverage online.