NBC Requiring Pay TV Subscriptions for Online Olympics Coverage, Erodes Olympic Values

NBC Requiring Pay TV Subscriptions for Online Olympics Coverage, Erodes Olympic Values

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The Olympics are the latest victim of big money, well OK, maybe not the latest. There’s been big money wrapped up in Olympic Games and their coverage for years. But this year, NBC has decided that, if you want to watch online, you need to pay to play, as in you need a pay TV subscription to get access to the content. Methinks they just alienated a whole lot of potential viewers. So the Olympic Games are the latest casualty of pay TV subscription authentication.

If you’re at home and get Internet by one of the big MSOs (Comcast, Time Warner, Cablevision, DirecTV, etc) the app will automatically recognize that and allow you access if you, “…verify that you subscribe to a cable, satellite or telco video tier that includes CNBC and MSNBC (which is now owned fully by NBC).”

If you’re not at home and want to access that content, you’ll have to login with your cable account and that is where it will check for a pay TV sub and if absent, disallow access to a vast majority of that streaming content, like it has done for me above.

It’s not for all content though. The authentication is only for:

…full-event replays (e.g. an entire basketball game) within 48 hours of an event’s conclusion. You will NOT need to verify your TV subscription to view the extensive collection of competition highlights, interviews, athlete profiles, etc., available on NBCOlympics.com…

You’ll have to verify on each device you want to watch the content on. Here are some technical specs:

You must have Flash enabled in one of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer v8 and above
  • Firefox v3.6 and above
  • Chrome v16 and above
  • Safari v5 and above

So wait, you need Flash, which means no iOS access and no access on Android devices with 4.1? It would seem like NBC just let the Olympic rings clatter to the ground unceremoniously. Actually, that’s just for watching live video on the NBCOlympics.com website.

There are Adobe AIR apps for both iOS and Android though, so you’re not totally left out. Two in fact; NBC Olympics Live Extra and NBC Olympics.Live Extra gives you live streaming of the Olympics and the second is more of a second screen app that gives added info on events, athletes, venues, etc. Of course, you can’t watch the games anyway if you haven’t got a subscription, so why bother installing the second app, right?

Olympics Values Eroded by Big Business

So it seems that the cable and satellite providers have totally got their hooks into the Olympic games this year. No real-time streaming of events without paying, no access to recorded events for at least 48 hours without paying. Whatever happened to the Olympic Games being “sport for all” and standing for “peace through sport?” Clearly, the American way has taken control of the Olympics and turned it into a massive money machine. Apparently, the Olympics now stand for money and power, the new message being: peace and sport can only be had…for a price. Poor form Olympics Committee…poor form indeed. You’ve taken games that were meant to foster peace and prosperity and put them into the hands of a select few who are now profiting at the expense of the people the games were meant to serve.

If you think I’m overreacting, read this clip from the Olympic Games themselves:

The World Conference on Sport for All has, since its formation, been dedicated to promoting broad dissemination of the sport for all philosophy, globally. It pursues the promotion of health, fitness and well-being, and aims at encouraging more people of all ages and abilities to participate in sports activities and experience the Olympic values.

Build a better world by encouraging the practice of Sport for All, particularly in the developing world, and by disseminating the health and social benefits of sport.

Except, if you can’t afford a pay TV subscription or don’t want to subscribe to it, you don’t get to experience the Olympic values. To say I’m disappointed, would be a gross understatement. I understand that it’s big money to do all that coverage, but to exclude people from being able to view the Olympic Games just seems to fly in the face of all that those same games stand for to me.


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