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August 13, 2008

The Beijing Olympics Online: A Sports Smorgasbord

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As I write this post I'm watching live Olympic tennis. American James Blake is in the deciding third set against Dominic Hrbaty of Slovakia and it's tied 3-3.  I'm not watching this match on television.  I'm watching it live online.  That's right, live streaming of Olympic events have come into their own with the Beijing Games, and the first and best stop for all your action is NBC's Olympic Website.

The team that put this site together deserves a medal of their own because it has just about anything an Olympics sports fan could want. As long as you stay within NBC's restrictions that is.

Let's face it NBC paid a gazillion-billion dollars for the rights to broadcast the games and they're not just going to give away the prime rib of events like swimming and gymnastics for free, so for those events and others like them, there's a time delay until NBC has broadcast them on both coasts of the US.

The first thing you have to do once you go to www.nbcolympics.com is enter your zip code and your cable service provider.  That way you'll get accurate listings for your particular area.  Then you have to download Microsoft's new competitor to Adobe's Flash Player, Microsoft Silverlight.

It's a plug-in for your web browser that allows you to play the videos. So for example, let's say you missed some of the American men's bronze medal winning performances last night.  You can go to the NBC site and watch them.  You can also watch highlights of today's events, by sport or by country.  There are video blogs by selected athletes.  Missed a medal ceremony?  You can watch them too. 

If there are several live events going on at once, you can put the the video player in "control room" mode and have it show you four video screens at once, each with a different sport.  Now, three of those screens willl be kind of small, but I got a buzz out of having that much control.

Oh, James just broke Hrbaty to go up 4-3.  You go, James.

As BeetTV.com says:

Despite the grumblings from some media critics and bloggers over the weekend about the selective delays by NBC around the distribution of online video coverage of the Summer Olympics, the depth and quality of the online video offering is astonishing.  NBC had over 4 million uniques on Saturday.   Traffic to the NBC Olympics video page has doubled from Thursday to Friday to nearly 850,000.

You can also set up email or text alerts for 30 minutes before your favorite events are scheduled to start.  You just have to register for the service.

As far as other sites to watch the Olympics, CNET.com has a very good video that explains many of your online choices.  Wired How To Wiki also has a pretty comprehensive list of your options, but just remember there are restrictions based on what country you live in.  The only way around some of those restrictions is to trick a proxy server into thinking that you live somewhere else. 

For example there's a YouTube Channel dedicated to presenting three hours of Olympic coverage a day, but not in the U.S.  NewTeeVee has some advice on ways beat the system...but you didn't hear it from me.

My boy James just held serve and now he's up 5-3.  One more game to go.

If you want to get a feel for Beijing from a native's point of view, what you can watch on YouTube are video's uploaded by Mike: one man with a camera in Beijing.  Many of Mike's videos are Beijing preparations before the games started.  Mike also has a Beijing Games blog here.

Oh, James just clocked a forehand winner past Hrbaty for match point.

You can watch CNN Olympic video and news reports at Yahoo Sports. Flicka at A Cat Nap however is loving NBC's online coverage:

I just watched the women’s team preview, and it got me pretty psyched! They’re talking about it being the best team since the Atlanta 1996 team, which I remember well because I was a competitive athlete at the time. 

So now that the games have begun, take some time to check out your video choices online and get a little more of the Olympic experience.

Hrbaty just double faulted and James has won the third set 6-3 in front of about six Americans at midnight in Beijing.

Welcome to the internet Olympics. 

Cross Posted From BlogHer



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