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," said Jon Litner, group
president for NBC Sports Group, during the Sports Keynote conversation with Multichannel
News' news editor Michael Reynolds, held at B&C/Multichannel's
OnScreen Summit here Thursday.
"We were able to not in any way cannibalize our
audience," says Litner, who argued that the live-streaming actually helped
the television ratings. "TV Everywhere, I think is reality... It's called
'TV everywhere' for a reason."
Litner said that for younger generations, it doesn't matter
how they view sports, as long as they can view it live. "Young adults,
don't necessarily distinguish where they are getting their video", he
says. "When it comes to sports, it's perishable."
Litner was bullish on the future of streaming sports live.
"Everyone who is in the ecosystem are all getting a much better
understanding of the opportunities that are around with TV Everywhere." he
The ongoing NHL lockout has knocked out much of NBC Sports
Network's as well as the company's regional sports nets' winter programming.
"It is hurting our business," he said. "We're heavily invested
in the NHL."
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."
He said finding replacement programming for the regional
sports networks it is more difficult, because those nets are geared
specifically around those 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."
"If you look at the history of these leagues, they've
all gone through it," said Litner, pointing to the lockouts that both the
NFL and NBA experienced in 2011. "We've been through this before."
While recent reports are giving Litner and fans hope that the season will be
salvaged, he said that if the year is canceled they will figure out appropriate
When asked his thoughts on Fox's recent sports deals,
including the 49% acquisition of New York-based RSN YES Network and their
billion-dollar negotiations with the Los Angeles 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," commented
Litner on the rising costs of sports media rights. "I think that everybody
has to look at markets through their own lens."