Vancouver Olympics Have Ambitious Live Streaming Plans — But Only in Canada

Canadians really know what they’re doing when it comes to showing people the Olympics online, it seems. This morning we spoke to Alon Marcovici, vice president of digital media from the country’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, after reading that “every single moment” of next year’s Winter Olympics would be available live online.

canada_olympicsMarcovici told us that the consortium, motivated by a story of a Canadian luger whose family still haven’t seen footage of him competing at the Turin games, will offer up to nine live feeds at any given time. These will have no in-stream ads besides a pre-roll and post-roll, and they will have only natural sound — no production and commentators. Meanwhile, five simulcasts of the country’s television stations will be live online at any time, containing the same ads that run on TV but also the production values, commentary, and stories that make Olympics television entertaining and accessible for so many viewers.

None of these feeds, however, will be available in the U.S. — they’ll be geo-blocked for viewers outside of Canada. NBC (s GE) still owns the American rights to the Olympics, and from all appearances they think their on-demand approach to coverage à la Beijing — delaying airing key events until primetime broadcast — is the way to go.

Marcovici said the consortium had not yet picked a video vendor, but has familiarized itself with Flash, Silverlight, Swarmcast, Neulion and all the other approaches used by other sports outlets. The concern is using a provider that will still be healthy and top-of-the-line by this time next year. He noted that Canada has among the highest broadband penetration rates in the world, as well as an expectation for live coverage from previous Olympics broadcasts.

We’ve complained about other events being slow to realize the value of live streaming, but it’s clear Canada has this figured out. Now if NBC would only come around!

Screengrab courtesy of