[ About Us | Popular | Marcom | AdNet | IChannel | Glossary ]

Aug 6, 2008

How To Watch The Beijing Olympics LIVE On The Web -- Even If NBC Doesn't Want You To

How To Watch The Beijing Olympics LIVE On The Web -- Even If NBC Doesn't Want You To

olympicgymnast.jpgNBC will bring 2200 hours of Beijing Olympics streaming video to the web, starting today. ButAmericans will miss some of the best parts. Why? Because NBC, which has exclusive rights to the games in the United States, still makes a whole lot more serving up TV ads than Web ads. So for many of the most-anticipated events (volleyball, gymnastics, swimming, boxing) US-based viewers have to either watch on TV (often on tape-delay) ... or they will have to get sneaky.

Easiest steps first: Figure out when the event you want to watch is on (the NY Times has an excellent event tracker for this) and then try to figure out if it's on nbcolympics.com (NBC's broadcast schedule here). You'll also need to download Microsoft Silverlight, which NBC.com requires to watch the game. We were ready to complain about that, but found it fairly painless, as these things go.

So what if NBC doesn't have what you want? Then you're going to have to be comfortable about skirting some rules.

One straightforward alternative: Use streaming and P2P sites that are willing to serve up TV feeds. Some options that have worked for our readers in the past:

NOS (Dutch)

A more convoluted option: Watch video that's supposed to be online, but not for your eyes. As we've noted, for instance, YouTube has a dedicated channel -- but only for users outside the U.S. In order to watch it, you'll need to trick YouTube into thinking that you're watching from somewhere else. That means you'll have to configure your browser to use a proxy server and then redirect your Internet connection through a country on YouTube's whitelist like South Korea.

Beyond YouTube, the BBC promises seven streaming Internet feeds for UK-based websurfers (or those using UK-based proxies). There's also the CBC for "Canadians" and the ABC for "Australians"... you get the idea.

The Olympics & Social Media Marketing

This week we're looking at how Web technology is being used in the Beijing Olympics. In today's post we check out how some of the world's leading brands are using social media tools in their Olympics campaigns. Our first post discussed how online video will be a big part of this Olympics, which is great for consumers. The Web can also be a boon for brands too, when it comes to major sporting events.

The inspiration for this post comes from Marion Arathoon of livemint.com, who wrote an excellent article outlining how brands such as Coca-Cola and McDonald's are deploying social media.

McDonald's has come out with an "alternate reality game" called The Lost Ring. The aim of the game is to discover a hidden history to the Olympics, which involves adventures in ancient Greece, mysterious packages, heroines, and so on. The Lost Ring apparently has the backing of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). There's an accompanying wiki and a YouTube site that has some very cinematic trailers, the first of which is embedded below:

It's an ambitious social media marketing ploy by McDonald's. While the McDonald's logo and brand aren't immediately apparent, the terms and conditions page indicates that it's a subtle push to associate their brand with the Olympics "spirit". Here's what the T&C state: "McDonald's is proud to sponsor The Lost Ring and bring the spirit of the Olympic Games to people around the world."

Now For the Not-So-Subtle: Lenovo's Athlete Blogs

Another example of social media and the Olympics is from computer manufacturer Lenovo, which has created blogs for about 100 Olympics athletes. Entitled Voices of the Olympic Games, in this case there is an explicit connection between the site and the brand. All the participating athletes were provided with "new Ideapad laptops and video cameras to capture their experiences." Many of these blogs are hosted on Google's Blogger.

Here's an example, from Rachel Dawson of the USA Field Hockey Team, from her latest post Out and About in the Village. . .:

"...the village is thriving as new batches of athletes arrive daily. The chaos in the dining hall is a key indicator of the increase in athlete volume. In order to understand the capacity of the dining hall let me draw you a mental picture . . . combine 6 football fields (3 deep and 2 wide), then line the space with thousands upon thousands of tables, put in buffet style food stands and add one McDonalds café, and there you have the village dining hall. Needless to say, the dining hall is the prime location for socializing, culturizing, and simply people watching. Today, there was extra excitement at meal time as some big time athletes arrived - ehhh, maybe you have heard of Michael Phelps, or perhaps Roger Federer or how about Spanish tennis phenom, Rafael Nadal. Yes indeed, we saw all of them."

Did you spot the McDonald's mention? They are doing a great job already infiltrating the Olympics!

Other Social Media Marketing at the Olympics

Via livemint.com, who got the following information from marketing consultancy R3 Asia Pacific, here are further examples:

  • Panasonic's photo contest, where consumers can upload photos within the subject of Olympics and vote for others' photos on the website.
  • Samsung Electronics Co. started a video contest based on the torch relay theme.
  • China Mobile and video share portal Youku formed a platform called M-Zone, designed for "cheering for Olympics".
  • FAW-Volkswagen Automobile Co. Ltd launched the Honk for China campaign. According to livemint, "Netizens who write about the torch relay passing through their town can link their posts with the FAW-VW's official torch map website. They then receive a "honking badge" that allows them to compose a tune which visitors can play (honk). Bloggers who attract the most "honks" win prizes."
  • Qingdao Haier Co. Ltd, in association with Baidu.com Inc., sponsored an Olympics online "love torch" relay.
  • Nike Inc. had a "creative community" for sharing creative works.
  • PepsiCo Inc.'s website celebrates "Everyone can be on the can for China" online activity around the Olympics. Consumers can upload pictures or articles about their love for China on websites such as 5a.com, Xiaonei.com, Taoao.com, Pocn.cn, Ipartment and 163.com.


Any major sporting event these days will attract big sponsors, and the Olympics has always been an event where global giants like Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Kodak, et al can flaunt their wares. With social media, you could say that brands are just using the Internet to find ever more ingenious ways to promote their brand - and that the Olympics is just a prop for that. McDonald's clever alternate reality game is proof of that. Lenovo's 'blog for schwag' promotion for athletes is a more overt example.

Censorship: Yahoo, Microsoft, Google Agree on Code of Conduct

bejing-logo.jpgWith the start of the Olympics in Beijing being only a few days away, a lot of focus in the technology blogosphere has been on the restrictions put on Chinese Internet users by the Chinese government and the role of major US Internet companies in this. According to US Senator Dick Durbin, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are close to agreeing on a code of conduct that would govern how these companies would operate in restrictive environments like China.

According to letters send by the three companies to Durbin's office, the companies will announce the details of this code of conduct later this year. Besides the three American companies, Vodafone and France Telecom also joined in the efforts to create this code...

Google to deliver ads to online Olympic video

Google's DoubleClick technology now can be used to deliver video advertising shown with Microsoft's Silverlight technology, and it will be used for that purpose with the Olympics video that NBC Universal plans to show online using a player based on Silverlight 2.

Google announced the Silverlight ad capability, called DoubleClick In-Stream, on Tuesday. It already could be used to deliver video ads using Flash, RealMedia, and Windows Media technology. In-Stream also can show static ads within video, which Microsoft and NBC concluded was the best approach for live video.

NBC Universal, already a DoubleClick customer, was bullish about the Sliverlight support. "Thanks to DoubleClick, In-Stream's new support for Silverlight 2, we are able to monetize our groundbreaking online-video coverage on the same platform we already use for display and mobile advertising. This lets our sales and operations teams work together really efficiently," Steven Gold, vice president of sales planning and operations at NBC Universal Digital Media, said in a statement.

Bringing live video from Beijing Olympics to your PC(Credit: Susan Dove/CNET News)

Microsoft is betting on the Olympics to help spur adoption of Silverlight, a browser plug-in technology that competes with Adobe Systems' Flash for bringing multimedia, animation, and other rich content to the Web. Distributing the Olympics online coverage, both prepackaged and live, is a technologically complicated task given how popular the sporting event is among viewers.

DoubleClick In-Stream is integrated with Google's DART technology for letting publishers serve ads over the Internet as well as target ads at specific categories of users, track ad campaign success, and create ad forecasts.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments accepted immediately, but moderated.

Support Our Sponsors: