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Figure skating! Snowboarding! Curling! The Winter Olympics are about to start in Vancouver today, and sports fans of all colors are ready to tune in and count the gold medals. Of course, having the Olympics in Canada is nice, because we don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to catch competitions in real time — but it also means that a number of the snowy events will play out while many of us have to sweat in a cubicle.
Here comes the Internet to the rescue! NBC’s Olympics site will feature a number of live streams, but accessing them will be a little more difficult this time around. Luckily, there’s also going to be video coverage of the games available on other sites.
NBC Olympics will stream around 400 hours live from Vancouver. The live streams will for the first time be restricted to subscribers of cable, satellite or IPTV services, so you’ll be out of luck online if you don’t already pay for some kind of TV service. NBC also once again decided to show some key competitions on TV only, where its family of broadcast and cable channels will air 435 hours of live programming. Check this listing for a complete schedule of the competitions.
Users willing and able to deal with the authentication hurdles are actually given some innovative features. NBC Olympics uses Microsoft (s MSFT) Silverlight for its live streams, and the Silverlight player developed for the Winter Olympics will offer slow-motion, fast forward and information overlays, as well as a live-blogging play-by-play of the event. Users will also be able to share select moments of the games on third-party web sites. However, don’t expect blogs to share hockey game highlights. Sharing will be restricted to non-competition content, so we’re all going to be able to watch press conferences and similarly exciting events.
Mobile.Nbcolympics.com will feature daily highlights of the events for mobile phone users.
Justin.tv is having a daily live broadcast with TJ Lanning and Resi Stiegler, two members of the US Ski team that aren’t able to compete due to injuries. The duo will broadcast live for 15 minutes from Whistler Mountain, where all the alpine skiing events are going to be held. The show, dubbed Live at the Lodge with TJ and Resi, is scheduled to stream daily at 6:30am PST / 9:30am EST, starting on the 13th.
Ustream.tv is going more for the glam side of the Olympics with a show called Live from the Club Bud Red Carpet in Vancouver. The NHL’s Heidi Androl and NBCOlympics.com’s Brad Blanks are going to cover the parties that are supposed to be the hot spot for athletes and famous sports fans alike live on the 19th and the 20th from 10pm to 11:30pm PST.
Yahoo Sports has started to offer lots of news coverage of the games on a dedicated Winter Olympics page. The page is currently featuring mostly archived footage, like video profiles of many major athletes, but it will also feature a live feed promising “fan interaction.”
AT&T Mobile TV and Mobi TV will carry the NBC Olympics 2Go channel with live video coverage from the games.
att.net/TeamUSA is scheduled to feature “exclusive Team USA On Demand videos,” according to an AT&T press release, but the site currently redirects to a Olympics-related music offering powered by AT&T. We suspect this will be fixed once the games go into full gear.
We will update this post with new links throughout the 2010 Olympics. Meanwhile check out Liz Gannes’ Guide to the Vancouver Olympics Online on GigaOm for links to relevant Flickr, Twitter and Facebook pages.
Related GigaOm Pro content: Live Event Coverage: Video Rights Roundtable (subscription required)