The 2008 Summer Olympics marks the first time equestrian enthusiasts will get to watch the competition in dressage, eventing and show jumping from start-to-finish, thanks to NBC's decision to stream 2,200 hours of live coverage of 25 sports at www.NBCOlympics.com.
USET Foundation Executive Director Bonnie Jenkins stated, "This is wonderful news and will be a great way to give many of our supporters who are responsible for getting our U.S. equestrian teams to the Olympic Games the ability to watch the equestrian events live and cheer on our athletes, even if they cannot be there in person. I know that our staff in Gladstone who will not be in Hong Kong will be glued to their computers throughout the two weeks. It will be fantastic!"
Fans will have the option of accessing a live internet stream of the global feed coming out of Hong Kong or viewing at their convenience by visiting www.NBCOlympics.com, where the material will be made available on an on-demand basis, along with hundreds of additional hours of background on the athletes, schedules, and related material.
The ambitious webcast initiative is in addition to NBC's most comprehensive equestrian broadcast schedule ever, with horse sport programming on NBC as well as sister cable networks USA, Oxygen, CNBC, and MSNBC. For the televised broadcasts, longtime NBC Sports Thoroughbred racing commentator Ken Rice will deliver play-by-play while Show Jumping Hall of Fame rider Melanie Smith-Taylor will handle analysis.
The internet feeds will not have audio commentary, but will instead feature ambient sound from the event and be enhanced by live blogging from experts in the various disciplines.
The NBCOlympics.com programming is offered free to viewers, who need only an up-to-date computer and a willingness to download Microsoft's new Silverlight media player to enjoy the many hours of equestrian programming. Silverlight is currently available for free download at www.Microsoft.com, and will soon be available at www.NBCOlympics.com, which expects to be offering the next-generation Silverlight 2 in time for the Olympics.
The live streams will be offered in three formats designed to accommodate viewers' computer specs and media preferences. "Enhanced" mode will offer full-screen display at high data rates as well as expert commentary and live blogging, "Live Control Room" lets you have as many as four windows of streaming video on-screen simultaneously, and you can even watch four different sports. "Pop-up" is suited to lower-bandwidth connections and will leave a very small footprint on your desktop.
The minimum system requirement for live streaming in the Popup mode is a 512-kbps broadband connection and a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 processor with 512MB of RAM, or an Intel-based MAC. For Enhanced and Control Room viewing it is necessary to have at least a 3.2-GHz Pentium 4 processor and 1GB of RAM. For those who would like to experience the live streaming on the big screen, devices like the Linksys Media Center Extender ($299) allow viewers to send Internet content from the PC to the TV wirelessly.
For those who can't be tied to a PC or TV, NBC is also rolling out a full-on mobile initiative with a 24/7 mobile TV channel dubbed "NBC Olympics 2Go" that will feature the best of the programming from NBC, USA, MSNBC, and CNBC of the 2008 Olympic Games from Beijing and Hong Kong. Users can access the mobile web site by visiting http://mobile.nbcolympics.com on their mobile device's internet browser or by texting "OLYMPICS" to 51515.
NBC's Olympic internet programming will begin with previews on August 6, segueing to opening ceremonies on August 8. For up-to-the-minute schedule information visit www.NBCOlympics.com.
NBC will also be televising the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. For that event there will be six hours of network coverage over three weekends—including championships for each of the eight FEI disciplines—as well as comprehensive internet streaming and mobile offerings.
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