With its exclusive U.S. broadcasting rights, NBC will televise a whopping 1,400 hours of the 2008 Summer Olympics Games from Beijing to American homes. HDTV owners will see some stunning moments—from tonight’s opening ceremonies to the closing ceremonies 17 days later—in crystal clarity on their TVs. (To ensure that you enjoy world class viewing, see our recent post, "HDTV: Adjust the picture for best quality.")
But there are only so many hours in the day, so who can watch it all? And even NBC’s thousands of hours of broadcasts won’t capture every minute of the 28 Olympic events spread over 31 separate venues in China.
My recourse? Turn to technology. Specifically:
The Net. NBC’s Olympic Web site (http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/index.html) already has a lot of streaming video—Olympic event trials, interviews with U.S. athletes, and so on. But NBC promises the site will also stream 2,200 hours of live video of the Olympic events, such as Taekwondo, which hasn’t yet appeared on broadcast TV schedules. The Web site even has its own electronic program guide, listing when events will be shown, and will send you reminders via e-mail.
Since my home computer has a high-speed broadband Net hook-up and is connected to my LCD TV (via its built-in VGA connection), this essentially puts an "Olympics on-demand" channel on my HDTV.
Over-the-air DTV. I recently hooked up my TV set to a rooftop antenna to get free digital TV. Over the past week, I’ve discovered that one of the sub-channels of my local NBC station (WNBC) will be carrying Olympic programming. ("Sub-channels," by the way, are one of the benefits of digital TV broadcasts, which are available right now. See "How to survive the digital TV transition" and our "Guide to DTV transition," for more information.)
Digital recording. Some of that Olympic coverage occurs during the day, when I’m at work, and at other times when I’m not sitting in front of my set. By connecting my DTV converter box (a DTVPal unit) to my analog DVD recorder, which also has a built-in 80-gigabyte hard drive, I can digitally record up to 80 hours of Olympics coverage from this alternate digital TV channel—for free.
If I run out of room on my DVR’s hard drive, I can always attach my DTVPal to my PC which has a video capture card—and terabytes of external hard drive space for thousands of hours of digital video. I can then zip through the recorded video and watch only the portions that I want. What’s more, I never have to worry that I’ll miss an event because there wasn’t enough room on a blank six-hour videotape or 11-hour DVD.
Granted none of these solutions will have the sharp, eye-catching details of live high-def broadcasts, and it certainly doesn’t solve the problem of limited coverage of events. But it will help me enjoy more of the Olympics than I otherwise would have.
What do you think? Do you have a "strategy" for watching the Games of the XXIX Olympiad? Where will you turn for events not covered by NBC? Share your tips here.