While Over 60 Nations Can Watch the Olympics Live, the USA Can’t

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

While Americans have to watch tape delayed coverage on NBC, the rest of the world is enjoying the 30th Olympiad live.  And it today’s Twitter dominated world where people are finding out results in their feeds, it’s starting to piss people off.  Even worse, those who complain on Twitter (an NBC partner) may find their accounts blocked.

The IOC takes all necessary steps in order to ensure the fullest coverage by the different media and the widest possible audience in the world for the Olympic Games. – IOC’s TV Rights and New Media Commission

So the good news is, that the International Olympic Committee is committed to using online coverage so that people all over the world can catch the action as it happens.  The bad news is, that the United States isn’t one of those countries that can enjoy it.  I tried to click on the YouTube Channel that the IOC is offering to countries in Africa and Asia, but I got a polite message telling me to click on another link if I was in the US.  I clicked on that and got a blank page.

Course, the reason is NBC.  They paid over $1 Billion for broadcast rights to the 2012 Olympics and makes no bones about it that they will tape delay coverage for maximum prime time effect (ad revenue).  Not that they aren’t offering enough coverage in the US.  They’re broadcasting every day up to 11 hours a day on a vast array of networks like NBC, Bravo, Universal Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo.  Additionally, users of Android and Apple devices can download the free NBC Live Olympics App and watch events streamed as they happen.  That’s how I’ve been watching the Games and I love it because there’s no play by play at all, just pure streaming of the game like your in the best seat in the house.

But there’s a downside to trying to watch the games live online … because NBC is owned by Comcast, they require that users of the Apps, and of the online viewing at NBCOlympics.com, to be a subscriber to either a cable or satellite TV service.  If you get all your TV from broadcast (that antenna on your roof), they’re your out of luck catching anything but the America-centric, tape delayed coverage on NBC.  And if you’ve cut the cable, you’re out luck, period.

From twitter:  @RebeccaHeslin: Funny how #NBC broadcast live for the royal wedding across timezones, but tape delays #Olympics. And we knew how that was going to end!

And that’s part of what’s fueling the Twitterverse complaints that NBC coverage is abysmal at best (with so many vacuous comments by Matt Lauer that it prompted the trending topic “#shutupMattLauer” and the topic #NBCFail).  But they’re getting the coverage somehow, as AC Neilsen is reporting that ratings show the Olympics coverage is Must See TV.   Ratings are outpacing the Beijing Olympics and over 36 million people watched coverage every night over the weekend, including the delayed, and extremely edited, Opening Ceremonies.  NBC caught much ire over deciding to cut away from the tribute to terrorist victims in favor of a Michael Phelps interview with Ryan Seacrest.  And they’re excuse was that the tribute was “too complex for primetime.”  My goodness, does the head of NBC Sports think America is that vacuous?!

And NBC isn’t taking lightly to all the complaints either.  They even pushed Twitter to block one reporter’s Twitter feed who was pretty much eschewing the games itself in favor of just chronicling how badly the Peacock Network was handling the games.   Gary Adams, a US based writer for the UK Independent, had his Twitter account suspended because Twitter claims he posted personal information about an NBC executive on his Twitter feed.  But a look at his feed shows he did nothing of the kind. The personal information he posted was the corporate email of an NBC executive which is already published online at NBC.com.  And there’s nothing in the Twitter TOS covering that, so they lied.  And since Twitter is a partner of NBC for the games, we can only assume the Peacock flexed some muscle to shut him down.

So, at the end of the day, if you live in the following 64 countries, you can watch the Olympics Live for free thanks to the IOC:

In Asia:

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Bhutan, Cambodia, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Iran, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

And Africa:

Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

And if not … well, you’re stuck with Ryan Seacrest.  Just don’t complain on Twitter about it.


About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.


  1. Fernando Salazar says:

    Thanks for your article. It’s [very] surprising not seeing any latin american country in the “allowed” list .Bolivia or Nicaragua are “developed” enough for the OIC, what?