Review: NBC offers plenty of live Olympics online

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That limit didn’t annoy me as much as I would have thought. The video streams are broadcast-quality and they include multiple camera angles, graphics and instant replays, as chosen by the producers. So as long as I’m online when the event is taking place, I can re-watch the key moments. Plus, it’s better than not having high-profile events live at all, as was the case in the past.

Some videos offer commentary in English or Spanish, while others provide only natural sound from the venue. These are typically the world feeds produced for countries that don’t have their own broadcasters, so you have a better chance of seeing non-Americans online than on U.S. television.

Because griping has become an Olympic sport, though, let me offer a few:

_ Gold Gripe: In 2008, I had access to four simultaneous feeds per computer _ one on the main screen and three to the side. I could easily switch back and forth depending on the action. This time, I’m limited to the main screen and a smaller one on my browser, and just one feed on the mobile app. To get around that, I need multiple devices, or at least multiple browsers. It seems to be a regression, when NBC made progress in so many other areas.

_ Silver Gripe: I wish I could just type in the name of an athlete or a country and get not just the full-length video but the portion where that person is competing. A search for Thai weightlifter Sirivimon Pramongkhol produced no video at all because the video for that event hadn’t been indexed with her name.

_ Bronze Gripe: Since I’m required to sign in to watch video on my various computers and devices, it shouldn’t be difficult to have reminder requests move with me. If I happen to notice an upcoming fencing event on an iPad, I can request to get an iPad alert just before the event starts, but it won’t appear on the iPhone or in email. It would also be nice to have a playlist all queued up, based on these alerts, so I can watch the events one by one as I have time.

All of these complaints are minor. Video was sharp and smooth, with a few exceptions when watching a high-interest sport such as swimming. I was willing to overlook that when so much else worked glitch-free. On computers, I can even choose HD-quality video. I also didn’t mind the ad interruptions; TV-like commercials typically appear when you start a video or when there’s a break in the action.

One of the big questions many people have is whether online streaming will cut into television audiences. NBC and its owner, Comcast Corp., are gambling that it won’t.

I have to agree. I found myself re-watching many of the events that I had already seen online, as the broadcast comes with extras such as profiles, interviews and cutaways to parents cheering in the stands.

NBC is also a pro when it comes to dramatizing the Olympics. Prime-time TV had cameras glued to gymnast Jordyn Wieber crying after she failed to advance to the all-around finals. The online stream had some of that, but it also cut to the British team and the crowds and didn’t feel as voyeuristic.

I welcome all the Internet coverage, but there’s room for both. And confounded with all that choice online, I sometimes found it nice to just sit back and let the producers take over.


Anick Jesdanun, deputy technology and media editor for The Associated Press, has been following the Olympics online since 2000 and on television since 1980. He can be reached at njesdanun(at)

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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