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Cool: NBC using 730,000 feet to bring all-HD Olympics to customers. Bad: A paltry 400 hours of live Olympic streams to be available. Answer: NBC = Epic fail.

The Olympics are a grand time for many people and groups all over the world. It’s a time for said groups to represent their country on the world stage, proving that they are just a cut above the rest. For decades, watching the Olympics meant catching time in between your busy life schedule to sit down and enjoy the (tape delayed) games. And then there was the VCR. Recording the not only the Olympics but TV in general was a huge revolution, as now people didn’t have to babysit their TV. Then the digital revolution took over and has brought us to where we are today.

Consuming any type of media is easier that it’s ever been — except if you want to watch live Olympic coverage over the internet. This year for the Vancouver Winter Olympics, NBC is going to great lengths to talk up their exclusive coverage. Part of their big marketing push for the 2010 Winter Olympics is the vast amounts of all-HD video footage and other high tech overlays such as “best line” and ghosting effects for skiers/snowboarders to make it easier (and cooler) to watch them fly through the air. Topping it off, a nifty little factoid has surface concerning the amount of cable being used to make this whole shebang run this year — 730,000 feet!

Yet the digital only avenue for Olympic consumption (read: online streaming) is a joke. A paltry ~400 hours worth of live coverage on with the bulk of free online content being “highlights” and athlete bios. If you recall, the 2008 Beijing Olympics featured over 2,200 hours of live online/streaming Olympic coverage on the same site. So what gives?

Even worse, this year NBC is using an authentication layer of DRM of sorts to limit the bulk of honest live coverage to paying cable subscribers. Those whom don’t pay for cable — SOL.

It’s a collection of decisions and policies built on greed no less. It frustrates me that NBC continues to do this as the bulk of the population hoping to watch the Olympics online this year have moved more twoards online streams. It is these people who will suffer, not knowing how to get around NBC’s draconian attempts to earn an extra buck.

For me and many other more tech savvy people however, there are plenty of sources and outlets to fool NBC’s lame attempts to prevent live Olympic streams.

If you find yourself curious on this whole “beating around the NBC bush” type of approach to Olympic streaming, spend a little time Googling proxies and VPN’s. They’ll be a big factor, though not the only options.

If you must take anything away from this, let it be this: NBC is yet again missing the entire point of the digital world we live in today by artificially limiting content and coverage — essentially what consumers really want. Doing so will only drive them away and to other sources — what NBC doesn’t want. NBC has yet again ruined the online Olympic experience.

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