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YouTube Brings the Olympics to Asia and Africa Live in HD

June 07, 2012


Streaming sports content got a substantial boost today, at least in some places, as Google (News - Alert) recently announced that it will be bringing live, HD streaming of Olympic events to YouTube. The bad news is that the only beneficiaries of this plan are Asia and parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

The move was made to allow those with less than reliable television signals access to one of the biggest sporting events of any decade, and is set to include over 2,200 hours of live video. Additionally, the International Olympic Committee's YouTube (News - Alert) channel will also offer 24 hour access to what's being called the Olympic News Channel, providing access to game results and more generalized updates. The IOC's YouTube channel is already up and running, showing highlights of past games like the Men's Basketball games between Argentina and the USA. This is likely to continue on a less geographically-restrictive basis.

While the move is a great way to help increase viewership of the games, those who have made the move to "cut the cord," as it's increasingly being used to refer to viewers who are taking their entire viewing habits to the Internet alone, are crying foul that their streaming capabilities are much more restricted than those of other nations. NBC is bringing about 3,500 hours of streaming to its site,, but the only way to access the site will be by authenticating with a current cable television subscription, which is what those users were trying to get away from.

Naturally, rights are a thorny issue here as ever, leaving those users with more potential choices available with fewer viable choices, and those users with fewer choices as a standard with more in a baffling convergence of policy, rights, and ISP protocols. Though considering the number of streaming sites out there that will likely be handling Olympic feeds without authorization, it's enough to wonder if NBC's strategy will truly pay off in the end.

Whether the handling of streaming rights leaves viewers ultimately satisfied or disgusted will remain to be seen, but the growing prevalence of those looking to get access to the content they want to see via the channels they want to use will eventually force some kind of solution. The Olympics serve, among other things, as a case-in-point example of the growing digital divide.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin