The App: NBC Olympics
The Device: iPhone 4
The Price: Free
The Basics: It’s no small secret that NBC’s handling of the London Olympics has been, er…lackluster. Ah, okay, it’s been pretty awful. Still, I tried to approach their official Olympics app with optimism. After all, a mobile app is not a massive broadcasting endeavor. It is a completely different field that requires completely different disciplines. Maybe this app is the key to enjoying NBC’s Olympics programming? Maybe this app, filled with schedules and stats and videos, will improve the 2012 Olympics experience in every way!
The Review: No. Just…no.
The first thing you’ll notice when you open the NBC Olympics app is that it takes forever to actually get going. Upwards of thirty seconds on my iPhone 4, if you want details. Much of this loading time is spent staring at a series of corporate logos, which is a taste of what’s to come inside the app: the NBC Olympics app is loaded with advertisements. Adds at the top and bottom of most pages. Ads before every video. Everywhere you look, you’re being sold McDonalds. Sitting through an un-skippable ad on YouTube is frustrating, but sitting through one on your phone is rage-inducing. Strike one, NBC Olympics app.
The next thing you’ll notice is the abominable interface that looks and feels like a bottom-of-the-barrel template design, not something that a multi-billion dollar company like NBC can afford. Fonts and colors are ugly. Navigation animation stutters whenever you change pages. Some pages are fine. The “News” page lets you read articles about the latest events and doesn’t get in the way too badly. Other pages are just plain nightmarish. The “Sports,” “Results and Schedules” and “TV Listings” pages are not only ugly, they’re borderline incomprehensible. “Results and Schedules” is the worst of it, which each button taking you to pages that aren’t formatted for mobile and are difficult to read and and understand. Strike two, NBC Olympics app.
And then there’s the “Videos” section, which is a mixed bag. Some of the videos are the complete, untouched footage from the event, letting you see victories as they happened (this is good). Others are heavily edited, placing emphasis on the wrong places and adding intrusive post-production effects (this is bad). In any case, the video streaming itself is generally okay once the app has settled down from the awful screen transition and the ad has played. However, the app promises live streaming, but any time I clicked on a live streaming button, I would get a loading page that would last for five minutes. It may have lasted longer, but I gave up. Strike three, NBC Olympics app.
The only reason I’m scoring this thing lower is because it achieves bare levels of functionality. This app is a complete failure on both a design and development front. What a piece of junk.
The Final Grade: D