It seemed so promising: NBC, the sole U.S. broadcaster for the 2008 Summer Olympics Games in Beijing, will allow consumers to download any event to watch on their personal computers for free.
That’s any event.
On their personal computers.
Then reality sets in and you discover it’s too good to be true. “NBC Olympics on the Go” will only be available for the Microsoft Vista operating system and then in just two flavors — Home Premium and Ultimate. This means millions of XP users, not to mention Mac and Linux folks, will be left on the sideline, so to speak.
These Olympic Games are going to be the most ambitious single media project in history, with NBC saturating the airwaves and Internet cloud with 3,600 hours of coverage from Aug. 8-24.
Three thousand, six hundred hours. Over 17 days.
That includes 1,400 hours on NBC and family stations USA Network, Oxygen, MSNBC, CNBC, and Telemundo, as well as high-def coverage on USA HD and Universal HD. Somewhere in the mix is live streaming on NBCOlympics.com.
That means NBC will be covering 28 sports, 302 events, and will be broadcasting seemingly 24/7. With the 12 to 15 hour time delay, most of the events — scheduled for morning starts in China — will be broadcast on prime time in the U.S.
And after spending hundreds of millions (billions?) of dollars, the network’s tech guys can’t find a way for “NBC Olympics on the Go” to reach more than Vista Home Premium and Ultimate users? Oddly, NBC has partnered with Microsoft to use its new Silverlight media technology, which will be available to PC, Mac, and Linux users.
Maybe the Vista thing has something to do with Wavexpress, an Internet video distributor whose media platform, TVTonic, will be used to distribute the Olympics video online. TVTonic already provides 350 media channels through Vista. (Click here to learn about TVTonic and install the media player.)
A few other “NBC Olympics on the Go” details:
- Yes, you read it right. It’s downloading, not streaming. The video will be cached on your PC to view when you want, where you want. The video will be “up-to-HD” quality.
- The downloads are not compatible with mobile devices.
- For those folks who have Vista Home Premium and Ultimate, they must download the Wavexpress media player. (Who needs another media player on their computer?“)
- To be fair, downloading the Wavexpress media player does have one advantage: Those who sign up can pick any event they want to see like they’re programming a DVR. The software finds and downloads the desired video when it becomes available. (Cool, but remember to leave your computer running.)
- Fans cannot download and watch games until they’ve appeared on TV. (That’s understandable.)
- NBC will sell video ads to appear in the downloads. (Expected and, sigh, a streaming/downloading way life for network content.)
All in all, NBC scores points for ambition and chutzpah but it’s doubtful the network will medal with “NBC Olympics on the Go.
As an aside, why is it “NBC Olympics?” Shouldn’t it be the “Beijing Summer Games on the Go” or something to that effect?