NBC Olympics Live Streaming = win

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Somewhat sick of the replays aired on Seven's coverage of the Beijing games I wandered out into the pastures of the interwebs to see what was on offer. Given the commercial realities of Olympics broadcasting (i.e. no one has the right to stream anything without forking over $10 gazillion dollars) the natural first stop was the grand puppet master of Olympic event scheduling - NBC. I went to nbc.com, found my way to the NBC Olympics website and was pleasantly surprised at what was on offer. So pleasantly surprised I'd go so far to say they've done a fantastic job.

Why does it kick so much arse?

For starters, LIVE STREAMS of almost everything. Now they are restricted to residents of the US who have a cable service but I'll come back to satisfying that requirement later. The only two sporting genres that I care about that aren't available are the Athletics and Swimming. I can understand that given the popularity of those events but despite that I still feel NBC has made a good compromise - everything else from Judo to Handball to Kayaking and hell even Synchronised Swimming is available.

But the fun doesn't stop there! Their player is Silverlight based and frankly, awesome. The default player screen is about the same size as your typical YouTube video but much higher quality, and you have the option of enlarging it to a 90+kB/sec stream (that's over 700kbps). Its superb for live streaming.

Standard Player: (cropped, click for full screencap)
NBC Olympic's standard player

Enlarged Player: (cropped, click for full screencap)
NBC Olympic's standard player

But I know you want more. They also have picture-in-picture! You have the option of viewing one stream in the regular large window, as well as having a smaller window within that watching a second stream. Or you can use a split pane view which lets you watch 1 main stream and 3 other streams in smaller windows. And, being the interwebs, there's nothing stopping you from popping up multiple windows each with their own full size player if you have the bandwidth. Its pretty handy if there's just one freaky athlete you want to watch out for in the women's weightlifting.

4 stream player: (cropped, click for full screencap)
NBC Olympic's standard player

Last night I checked out the live stream schedule and noticed that when a match is in play they update their schedule so instead of just saying "Water Polo - AUS v CAN" their equivalent of the TV guide for live streams says "Water Polo - AUS v CAN, Australia leads 3-0". So you don't even have to go into the stream to figure out whether it may or may not be interesting. This might not seem like such a big deal but to me it signals a real desire to make the site as useful as they possibly can.

Now the restriction on NBC's streams is that you need to provide them your ZIP code and the name of your cable provider. Once you're past that form the live streams are also restricted to US IPs. Now I don't want to suggest you lie to them but in the spirit of "for educational purposes only" made popular by warez and security groups throughout the world you may want to consider using the internationally acclaimed ZIP code for Beverly Hills - 90210. I heard DIRECTV services Los Angeles. As for the IP restriction, again, for educational purposes only, you may want to consider buying yourself an account on a shared webhost that provides SSH access. It might be in the US. You wouldn't want to pay more than $5/month for this.

Then grab yourself a copy of PuTTY (its free, and absolutely awesome), setup a Dynamic tunnel in its preferences, then ssh into your new webhost. Start Firefox (again, free, and awesome), point its SOCKS proxy setting at localhost:1080, and off you go to the wonderous land of live Olympics streaming. $5 for all the Olympics streaming you can handle. This is all just theoretical of course, you wouldn't want to violate NBC's Terms of Use.

So tonight instead of watching Seven's replays of Aussie medals through the day, using the above method, I might have opted to go to NBCOlympics.com to watch the women's 63kg & men's 81kg Judo. Where I might have seen some amazing throws by a French lady, and an equally amazing trip by a Brazilian dude. Citius, Fortius, Altius and all that. It would have been a nice change from the political & patriotic crap on Seven's coverage. But I would not have want of violating the great NBC's streaming rights so this whole post is just me dreaming. Even the screenshots I got off some random guy on IRC who listened to me lamenting Seven's shitty coverage.

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This page contains a single entry by goosmurf published on August 12, 2008 10:13 PM.

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