Forget your TiVo or other DVR device, Silverlight 2 Beta 2 is making a major debut as a streaming media technology at the 2008 Summer Olympics in China. NBC and Microsoft will be streaming over 3,500 hours of Olympic coverage to the US.
Start by going to http://www.nbcolympics.com/video to get to the video homepage. From there, I recommend either Live Competition or Long-form Rewinds in the left hand menu. Live Competition will get you whatever NBC/Microsoft is streaming live at the moment. Long Form Rewinds will get you an entire match, game, or round that you can start, stop, fast forward, rewind, etc.
The Standard Player allows you view the event, gives you major play-by-play action in scroll list box with a transcription of the live commentary happening. There are a few more tabs on the screen the background about the sport you’re watching, trivia about it, and more.
If you click on the Enhanced Player button, that’s where the player really shines. That’s because you can watch up to 4 events at one time using the Live Video Control Room button found along the left hand menu of the Enhanced Player. Any of the other feeds can be switched to the main window so you can see more of the action. You can also enlarge the main screen to make the only thing that you’re watching. The caveat there is that if were watching/monitoring 3 other events, you’ll have to re-add them back to your Live Video Control Room windows. Unfortunately it doesn’t remember what went into these windows.
There are a few commercials you’ll have to endure through the broadcasts or replays, but not the long 2-3 minute ones like on commercial TV which is nice. Just short 30 second ones.
The feeds come with no announcer commentary, which is good and bad. If you don’t know who’s who (and assuming you care), you get nothing. As my wife described it, it’s like actually being there because if you were live at the event, you wouldn’t hear any commentary either. Okay…she makes a good point (as always).
I’m glad NBC invested the time, energy, and resources to do this for this Olympic game. Yes, it’s a great showcase for Microsoft to show off Silverlight, but mostly because if you don’t have the right cable or satellite subscription, you’d never get see a lot of the events. And even if did have that right, its very probable that NBC would only broadcast events that are popular or what advertisers say they’ll sponsor (I’m assuming). And if you like fencing and/or archery like me, they’ll show maybe 5 minutes of those events, and they usually only show highlights of the final point(s) and who medalled in the event.
Go USA! Excelsior!