NBC Olympics 24/7

After more than 8 months of planning and development, full NBC Olympics online video coverage is underway!

Anyone living in the U.S. can watch live and archived streaming video of nearly every Olympic event for free by visiting:

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/index.html

The reason that only United States residents have access to NBC’s video streams is because NBC owns the rights to broadcasts of the 2008 Summer Olympics only for the United States. The International Olympic Committee sells broadcasts rights to only one broadcaster per country, so if you’re in Canada – you have to watch CBC; if you’re in the UK – you have to watch the BBC, and so on. I’m sure NBC wouldn’t have minded selling ads globally if the IOC had let them. ;)

The NBC Olympics website doesn’t require (as some news reports and blogs have stated) Microsoft Silverlight to run, but is optimized for it. This is even stated on the NBC Olympics website. The Silverlight 2 Beta 2 plugin needed for the optimal (and intended) rich web experience is a minimal download and a very light-weight install. And despite being dubbed a “Beta 2,” it’s actually easily one of the most stable Microsoft products I’ve seen in years. Here’s the list of Silverlight 2 supported operating systems and browsers:

  • Windows Vista: Internet Explorer 7 or better, Firefox 1.5 or better
  • Windows XP SP2 or SP3: Internet Explorer 6 or better, Firefox 1.5 or better
  • Mac OS X 10.4.8+ (Intel only): Firefox 1.5 or better, Safari 2 or better

Microsoft’s Silverlight website also mentions the following platforms as being supported by Silverlight 2, but I guess NBC isn’t explicitly supporting them, so proceed at your own risk: Windows 2000 w/ IE6, Windows Server 2003 w/ IE6+ or Firefox 1.5+. And if Silverlight 2 works on Vista, one would also assume it works on Windows Server 2008 too.

A list of Frequently Asked Questions is also available on the NBC Olympics Video website.

Finally, here’s a few articles that describe the project and showcase its highlights:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13860_3-10002909-56.html
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/373888_msftoly07.html?source=mypi

MSDN’s Channel 9 also has a 20-minute interview with fellow Silverlight evangelist Eric Schmidt who talks about the various features of the NBCO video player and what it took to pull off this massive effort:

http://channel9.msdn.com/shows/Continuum/Building-NBCOlympicscom-with-Silverlight/

About Alex Zambelli

Alex is a Principal Product Manager at iStreamPlanet Co. in Redmond, Washington. Prior to his current job he was a Technical Evangelist for Microsoft Media Platform at Microsoft Corporation. He specializes in video streaming, adaptive HTTP streaming, VC-1 and H.264 video, and video processing best practices.
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