Where do you go to watch the Vancouver Olympics online if you’re living in Canada, Europe or Asia? Those were some of the first questions we got when we published our Where to Watch the 2010 Winter Olympics Online guide a few days ago. And yes, we’re the first ones to admit that our coverage is sometimes a little US-centric, but there are actually plenty of opportunities to watch the games online if you’re living outside the United States.
In fact, chances are that if you live elsewhere, your experience will be even better than that of many US-based sports fans. NBC is restricting access to its Olympic online programming to cable and satellite TV subscribers, and those granted access have to cope with lack of programming and a poorly designed web site. That’s not the case in many other countries, where online programming often complements, and sometimes even exceeds, the coverage of the games on TV.
First a quick tip: You can simply go to the IOC’s web site to find out who is streaming the games in your country. Just scroll down on the home page and find the “Watch Live Olympic Coverage Online” widget that provides a list of countries to choose from. Select your country of residence, and you’ll be automatically forwarded to a relevant web site.
That being said, the experience and depth of coverage varies significantly. Here are a few examples:
Canada: Canadian TV is obviously all over the games, and sports fans north of the border can watch simulcasts of ten TV stations online. Canada’s CTV is also featuring a number of online-only live streams on its site CTVOlympics.ca. The declared goal of Canada’s broadcasters is to have “every single moment” of the games available online. This exhaustive approach seems to be paying off: CTVOlympics.ca and its French-Canadian sister site RDSolympiques.ca clocked 133,472 hours of live video streams on the first day of the games. The opening ceremony caused nearly one million video views alone.
The U.K.: The BBC is covering the Olympics with four live interactive streams through its BBC Sport website. The Beeb’s iPlayer makes it possible to catch up on highlights of the game. The broadcaster wants to make a total of 2000 hours of Olympic coverage available online.
Europe and the Middle East: In addition to local broadcasters like the BBC and Germany’s ARD, the Olympics are also streamed by Eurovisionsports. Access is restricted to residents in some 50-plus countries, including Denmark, Israel, Turkey and Serbia via IP address localization. Eurovisionsports is aggregating coverage from 30 European broadcasters. The site also features six dedicated live channels, as well as a 24-hour Olympic news channel airing more than 3,000 hours of live event coverage, according to a press release from the European Broadcasting Union. A subset of the programming will stream in 720p HD.
Latin America: Terra’s various localized websites across Latin America are carrying a total of 20 channels that will feature 15 events of the Olympics with live streams.
China had its day in the sun with the 2008 games, where P2P TV services like PPLive delivered live video to an online audience bigger than that of any western web feed. The Vancouver Olympics are approached with a little more modesty. PPLive isn’t carrying the event at all, but CCTV-5 is covering some events live online, and its website features a number of on demand clips.
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