Let the Games begin

11 Aug 2008

The Olympics is nothing if not a media event, and media today is all about online.

No surprise then to see plenty of online games around the Olympics.

This year US Games broadcaster NBC is for the first time offering thousands of hours of live coverage on the web, giving viewers the chance to see events away from the marquee competitions at the track or pool.

When it comes to the web vs TV, an old-time broadcaster will always go with the tried-and-trusted. So Americans missed the opening ceremony online as well as on TV.

Controversially, NBC is offering web video in partnership with Microsoft, which means viewers must download the Silverlight plug-in. Critics complain it's just another MS strategy for locking internet users into its proprietary software.

This only matters to US viewers. Online viewers elsewhere will have to watch content from local providers, most of whom are using Flash.

The earlier digital hoo-ha - web censorship at the Olympic media center - continues to simmer. Some wire services report that web sites with sensitive content - Tibet, Taiwan, Tiananmen, Xinjiang - remain blocked. Chinese officials cited national security and the protection of youth.

Otherwise it's business as usual at the Games. Plenty of Olympic-themed games, Mandarin translation services and companies figuring out (still) how to make content accessible to the mobile.

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