In 2008 Olympic torrents were hugely popular. The opening ceremony was downloaded more than 2 million times in the first week, outraging the International Olympic Committee. With Vancouver 2010 starting later this week, several broadcasters have declared war on Olympic pirates.
The 2008 Summer Olympics were a huge hit online, both through legal and illegal channels. NBC streamed a record breaking 2,200 hours of live video to the delight of millions of people, but strangely enough this year the network will limit its live coverage to hockey and curling.
An NBC representative explained that the network will only cover the highlights because people “are not dying to watch lots of long-form content on a 13-inch screen.” However, at the same time NBC contradicts itself by announcing that it will do all it can to prevent people from accessing unauthorized live feeds or downloads of Olympic broadcasts.
While NBC doesn’t believe there is much demand for live coverage, it will do all it can to prevent the ‘few’ people who do from downloading or streaming the events online. “Our aim is to make access to pirated material inconvenient, low quality and hard to find,” said Rick Cotton, NBC’s Executive Vice President commenting on their Olympic mission.
Once again one of the major entertainment industry outfits has got it entirely wrong. If NBC really wants to prevent piracy they have to offer at least some sort of alternative. Cutting 2,200 hours of live web coverage back to just a few hundred is certainly not going to help in stopping piracy.
NBC reportedly has teamed up with Ustream and Justin.tv, two popular live streaming sites, to use filtering schemes in order to prevent illegal broadcasts. However, it is inevitable that they won’t be able to stop them all since there are dozens of live streaming sites. Preventing torrents from being uploaded will turn out to be even more problematic for the network.
During the Beijing Olympics two years ago, The International Olympic Committee (IOC) asked for “assistance” from the Swedish government with preventing video clips from the Olympics in Beijing being shared via The Pirate Bay. This didn’t help much and during the weeks that followed millions of people continued to download broadcasts of Olympic events.
We assume that in the coming weeks most events will again appear online, despite NBC’s efforts to prevent the Olympics from being pirated.