Roundup: Watching the Olympics Online (and in HD!)
Ahh yes, Olympics frenzy is upon us. The time when countries cheer on their athletes in games of sport and goodwill. It’s also a time when companies cheer on their contributions to the Olympic efforts and services available to keep tabs on the event which is lining up to be the largest streamed event in history. Since we’re Addicted to Digital Media around here, it wouldn’t be the Olympics without a roundup of the ways you can keep tabs and this year it’s much cooler – with thousands of hours of content available in HD streaming on the Web for Windows and Mac users, perhaps for just a few weeks we’ll see some peace and harmony. Unfortunately for my friends outside the US, these services are specific to the USA so apologies.
So, here’s the roundup:
What: This isn’t your old MSN Toolbar. Generally I cringe at installing any toolbar app into my browser, but this new version is both functional and visually slick in part thanks to being built with Microsoft Silverlight. You’ll find an Olympics button that presents the latest medal count, photos, video and sport-specific news right from the comfort of your web browser. The button even glows when updates happen to notify you in a polite way. Alternately, Live Search is optimizing search results to include latest stats, news, and medal counts. Details available here.
How to get it: Visit www.newmsntoolbar.com and download the free toolbar.
What: So you forgot to set your DVR to record that amazing football game, or want to watch live coverage but it’s not being broadcast on the myriad of NBC/Universal TV stations? Have no fear – NBC and Microsoft Silverlight are bringing over 1000 hours of live and on-demand Olympics coverage to your PC or Mac. On-demand coverage will use a brand-new adaptive streaming technology capable of true HD-quality video over the Web – no stopping and buffering either, the technology automatically adjusts video quality to available bandwidth. Live events are presented using the Emmy-award winning Windows Media technologies. Be sure to check out the enhanced player – in the Control room you can stream up to four events – at the same time!
How to get it: Visit www.nbcolympics.com/video and check out the new player. Note: Silverlight is a required installation for the experience.
3. Windows Media Center on Windows Vista Premium & Ultimate
What: If you have a Windows Vista Premium or Ultimate PC, you can watch NBC Olympics On the Go in Windows Media Center, an Internet-delivered catch-up TV service from NBC Universal powered by Wavexpress’ TVTonic platform, no TV-tuner required. This free download-and-play service differentiates Windows Media Center as the platform with the highest-quality Internet-delivered Olympics experience in the USA. No word yet on whether this works via Extender – I will have to try it later.
With NBC Olympics On the Go in Windows Media Center, you will get:
- NBC Sports’ complete on-air HDTV coverage of the Beijing Olympics on the NBC, USA and Universal networks – even when you don’t have a TV tuner for your Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate PC
- 225 hrs of long-form Olympics video over 17 days
- 24 sports, full opening ceremony, and a closing ceremony montage
- Up to HD quality, with the vast majority of the video delivered in 840×480 progressive scan resolution at 1.5 Mbps bit rate, plus several events per day delivered in 1080i resolution
How to get it: Click here for details or here for the TVTonic app Note: for 64-bit Windows users, hang tight- there’s an update going through certification that should provide support before the games actually begin.
There are a host of other ways to get the Olympic experience as well. Google has a summer games page and mobile page and I’m sure to have missed some others. Tell us what you think- how will you be watching the Olympics?