Behind the Olympics: How to hack NBC and watch the Games on your schedule

If you’re an rabid Olympic hawk like me–and there seems to be plenty of other people with almost as much free time on their hands–then you were probably incensed NBC didn’t show the historic opening ceremony live last Friday.

To help you get around the 12-hour time gap, here’s a quick run-down of how you can watch all your favorite events live.

First are the up and up options.

  • NBC has the exclusive rights to broadcast in the US, which means you can’t switch channels to ABC or CBS. Some of the events are broadcast live, notably swimming, but their online counterpart has some 3,000 hours of on-demand video and 4 live streams. Personally, I wasn’t very impressed–had lots of difficulty in tracking down the stream for the epic USA-China basketball showdown.

On the fuzzy side:

  • There’s plenty of free grub out there for anyone lucky enough not to be American (i.e. under NBC’s dominion). The Canadians have CBC, the Brits have BBC, and the Chinese have CCTV, which all offer streaming online coverage.
  • To get around the “geo-limits”, you’ll have to use a proxy–a virtual router that tricks whatever site into thinking you’re from a particular country. My favorite is freeproxy, while is a clearinghouse for different sites.

The not exactly legal:

  • The most popular option for getting high-quality videos is to go Peer-to-Peer, in which you connect directly to other users for the content. The best program here, with by far the most videos, is BitTorrent, especially good for vids of the spectacular opening ceremony.
  • Other options include Sopcast, with its Olympic-geared channels, and TVU Networks, which is good to have around for sports after the Olympics are over.