NBC Olympics on the Go will allow (some) fans to download events to watch on their computers

olympics homeIt 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.

For free.

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.

NBC OlympicsThat 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.)

See also: Stream or download more than 200 tennis matches through Wimbledon Live

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?

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

6 Responses to “NBC Olympics on the Go will allow (some) fans to download events to watch on their computers”

  1. Louis Brusco says:

    Another thingk – don’t try to install TvTonic with Firefox – you need to go there with IE 6.0 or better (or worse….).

    Still have not decided if I will knuckle under to their specific demands (Vista Home, IE) and get it.

  2. OLGA RAMOS says:

    I think is a GREAT IDEA !


    I tried to view videos and the response is RESTRICTED TO THE UNITED STATES……………..

    I live in Puerto Rico… so as many fans of NBC with cable/DirectTV/Dish NEtwork who live for sports, and SPECIALLY olympics…

    Not a very good idea…


  3. Chris says:

    In the UK online coverage is coming from the BBC which is free from most of the restrictions U.S users are getting.

    WebTVWire.com has a summary of how to watch the olympics and the news surrounding it.

  4. Nic B. says:

    It would only be a matter of time before Microsoft would find a way to leverage my hard earned dollars out of my pocket!!! So much for the “free” coverage.

  5. MR BABYLON says:

    YOU SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Doug says:

    If you are poor and don’t have a TV but do have a computer (Many students in this group) then you MUST pay microsoft to watch the “FREE” as in beer sports. If you use Linux you are out of luck too! You MUST be a microsoft customer! Even if M$ makes a Linux version of this software you still must be under the rule of the contract you will have to OK from MS. If you are from the US but live outside of it you are also out of luck.

    If I had enough cash for vista (and wanted a poor system to boot), I would just watch the whole thing on satellite TV with my DVCR recording all events.

    The Olympics are for the rich and the sheep of the human world. Why should this be? Why should MS control the viewers? I can understand the company that bought the rights to it and wants to sell ads but MS.

    Install Linux and set yourself free. (You can keep your MS at the same time too, in case you might want the dog pile.)


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