Finally, the 2012 London Olympics are upon us. Prepare yourself, for the next several weeks will bring more details than you ever cared to know about this year's competition — and thanks to our hyper-connected culture, you'll be hearing about it through every online outlet you can imagine. For those of us the US who just want to follow along with the games, however, NBC has us covered with unprecedented coverage in excess of 5,000 total hours across TV, web, smartphones, and tablets. If you want to keep up with the games online, here's how you can go from 0 to synchronized swimming in no time (but remember, this is for US visitors only).
Let's get the bad news out of the way first: if you want to enjoy NBC's coverage of virtually every event online, you'll need to have a cable subscription that gives you access to both CNBC and MSNBC. Cord-cutters will have to make do with what's being broadcast over NBC network TV. Sadly, this is in direct contrast to what the BBC is doing for UK citizens — the network will blanket the country with coverage on TV, live, and through its apps, and there doesn't appear to be any restrictions on who can view.
Cord-cutters will need to look elsewhere to get their Olympics fix
For those who do meet the requirements, start by visiting NBColympics.com — on the upper-right side of the page, there's a giant red button asking you to "click here and get ready" to stream the games live. Once you click, you'll be prompted to pick your cable service provider and log in using your online account management details. Fortunately, there's a huge swath of providers here for you to choose from, so chances are good that you'll find your particular cable carrier buried amongst the long list of options.
Once you've picked your provider and logged in, the full treasure trove of Olympic videos is available — both in terms of live broadcasts as well as replays of earlier events that you might have missed. To help sort things out, NBC has a daily view of what events are taking place, as well as an option to see exactly what is happening live. That view also helpfully tells you what TV channels each event is playing on, for those of us who might want to get away from the computer for a bit. There's also a by-sport view for anyone who is particularly focused on catching every single rhythmic gymnastics competition.
BlackBerry and Windows Phone users are left out of the fun
NBC also has you covered for when you're on the go with a pair of apps for Android and iOS — BlackBerry and Windows Phone users are left out of the fun, unfortunately. The basic NBC Olympics app contains scores, highlights, schedules, and photo galleries, but the NBC Olympics Live Extra app lets you unlock live streaming using the same cable provider credentials you need to provide to view over the web. The app works largely the same as the site, with daily schedules and by-sport sorting options; you can also favorite certain sports or specific events and get an alert 15 minutes before it starts up.
Since NBC has an exclusive on Olympics coverage in the US, this represents the only officially sanctioned way to tune in through the internet. While those who still have a traditional cable package will be able to take live video with them wherever they can get an internet connection, those future-looking souls who've disconnected from cable will sadly be out of luck. At least the standard NBC broadcast network will be carrying the overly gaudy and epic opening ceremony — you can tune in tonight at 7:30PM ET, as it's being shown on a tape delay.