Ice, NBC Sports and the Olympics

This 1852 drawing, from Gleason's Drawing Room Companion, shows ice harvesting on Spy Pond in Arlington, Massachusetts in the mid-19th century (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Ice used to be a big business.

A very big business.

Ice was harvested from frozen ponds in New England, stored in insulated ice houses and sold across the country and around the world. Ships took ice from Boston Harbor as far away as India. Ice was an industry -- there were ice ponds, ice houses, ice boxes in every home, ice delivery routes, ice tongs and probably ice conventions. If your father owned an ice pond or an ice house or had an ice delivery route in NYC, you were set for life.

Then, in 1876, Carl von Linde invented refrigeration.

In a stroke, the ice industry was over. And all the investment in ice houses and ice boxes and ice delivery routes was worth nothing. In a moment, a piece of new technology had wiped out a billion dollar business.

That's what technology does.

A few weeks ago, another piece of new technology surfaced.

Live video streaming.

Meerkat and Periscope.

There will be others.

Now, anyone with a smart phone can live stream video from anywhere in the world at no cost, to everyone.

You have to say it was inevitable. First came text, then came photos, then came video and now, live video feeds. That's the tyranny of Moore's Law.

A few months ago, Lisa and I were at the Country Music Awards in Nashville. There were probably 5,000 people in the audience and at any given moment about 1,000 of them were holding up their smart phones and iPads to record video or stills of the event, and no doubt posting them on Instagram or Facebook.

Now, those same 1,000 people can also live stream the CMA as it happens to the whole world. And for free.

Now, ABC was also live broadcasting the CMAs, and I bet they paid a LOT for that. Paid a lot for what anyone could do for free.

Now, I read that NBC paid $7.75 billion dollars for the broadcast rights to the Olympics between now and 2032 (just think of what the state of live streaming tech is going to be in 2032!). I bet you that everyone who comes to those Olympics is going to have a state of the art smart phone with them - whatever that state of the art is going to be -- and I bet that they are all going to be live streaming all the events that they see as they happen. It's inevitable.

Apparently people were already live streaming the 'Fight of the Century' and Periscope is about 2 days old. The PGA freaked out yesterday when Stephanie Wei, a well known golf blogger, live streamed from a PGA event. They apparently pulled her credentials, banning her from covering any PGA events for the rest of the year.

Again, we are just at day 1 of this technology.

Is NBC going to ban every single person who pays to go the Olympics from using their smart phones? What about baseball games? Football games? Live concerts? And that's just the beginning.

The tech genie is out of the bottle. And once it's out, you can't put it back in.

2032! Jeez. You would think someone over at NBC would have thought about the rapid growth of tech capabilities before they signed on for something like that.

Probably tomorrow I will read that they have made a major investment ice houses.