NBCOlympics.com | Olympic Games Videos & Live TV Only on Vista. No Linux, Mac or XP

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NBC Olympic Online Web Video CoverageNBC plans to show 2,200 hours of live television from the Beijing Summer Olympic Games online on NBCOlympics.com this summer, and all for free, with advertising on the site being the main revenue source for the company.

However, as good as that sounds, and it is a brilliant thing that the Web is now being used for these types of high-profile events, the amount of restrictions being placed on the coverage means NBC are proving to be just as totalitarian and dictatorial as the Chinese Government.

Controversially Free Coverage

I’ve already spoken a little about NBC’s plans for their live streaming coverage of the Olympics Games online, but the thrust of that article was about media mogul John Malone’s views on the plans, with him objecting to the lack of a fee for the privilege.

Since then, it has come to light that NBC are placing a number of restrictions on the live TV coverage, both in terms of who can and can’t watch the footage, and about how much access other sites will have to the videos & live streams.

Severe Restrictions

For starters, and probably most importantly for us mere mortals, is that only Windows Vista users are going to be able to watch the footage. According to Blorge, Apple Mac, Linux and even Windows XP users need not apply.

Potential viewers will also need to have Silverlight installed on their PC, with Adobe’s Flash Player, the current market leader for streaming Web applications being of no use when it comes to this coverage.

Both of these restrictions have clearly been engineered by Microsoft, who strangely enough are NBC’s partners in promoting the online Olympic coverage, with the games being heavily targeted on MSN.com. And the restrictions don’t end there, with Yahoo! News reporting others.

When the BBC iPlayer launched a Windows only service it got in trouble and ended up having to re-work the technology behind the iPlayer so that people using other platforms could watch the videos.

The NBC should also be pushed into providing a much more open service that is both user friendly and promotes a healthy competitive environment rather than supporting a Microsoft monopoly.

Limited Coverage

Coverage of the Olympic trials was allowed to be shown on websites other than NBCOlympics.com so long as the site linked back to the main NBC page. Now NBC are demanding all those videos are removed by August 7th, the day before the Beijing Games start.

There are also restrictions placed on the NBC coverage itself, with no events that are scheduled to be televised on normal NBC channels to be made available online until after they are seen on TV. So on-demand only applies to well after the event has happened.

I had high hopes for this free online coverage to really show the way forward for Web television, and for it to encourage other broadcasters to follow suit in seeing the Internet as the way forward. But these unnecessarily harsh restrictions could mean the whole thing is a farce.

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