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The Digital Skeptic: Olympic Flame Lights Way to Web Profits

Stocks in this article: CMCSA

Absolutely not. Every bit of content in this digital space was controlled, ordered and consciously monetized.

A strictly monitored ID from a paying multichannel TV account is needed to see the full content feeds, protecting Comcast's $1.2 billion bet on the Olympic video rights and opening the service to a fascinating series of clever content windows that work like theatrical and DVD releases in miniature.

Popular premium events such as gymnastics and swimming are streamed live but are not available for full replay until after the fully produced, high-ad-revenue generating TV content from those events run in lucrative prime time slots, usually later that night.

Lesser events, such as sailing or judo, are offered live and in on-demand replay. But ad insertion is heavy by Internet standards: two commercials every three or four minutes. And they were the same top-flight, top-quality spots from Visa (V), Subway and Kellogg's (K) I was seeing on NBC.

And true top-tier moments -- including, you guessed it, Berners-Lee's opening ceremony tweet -- are not available on the Web at all, at least as far as I can find. My hunch is these will be saved for a Best of the Olympics replay on TV and probably a DVD release.

Clearly, NBC, the IOC and the London organizers all got paid.

The approach has drawn loads of criticism, but try for yourself. The commercial load is reasonable, the overall experience is compelling and what a joyous experience it is to consume information that is actually -- gasp! -- valuable enough to warrant your money and time.

The Web's five-ring future
The Olympics has a history of giving us a glimpse of the future: instant replay to the use of multichannel cable to now how to manage new media. What the London organizers, the International Olympic Committee and NBC have shown is that by insisting its customers are just that -- paying customers -- and not a media in and of themselves, they make content that is content and consumers that are consumers.

This is the template for the Web's future.

The sooner Berners-Lee can get started on the more-better, paying Web, the better. I am oh-so-tired of the stupid one we are using now.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.
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