CNET News Video: Olympic online gold
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CNET News Video: Olympic online gold

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Thanks to Microsoft's Silverlight streaming video software, more people than ever before are tuning in...err...logging on to watch the Olympics online. CNET's Kara Tsuboi reports on the popularity of the free service and the technology involved in transmitting that gold-medal relay race from Beijing to your home computer.

[ Music ] ^M00:00:02 >> I think, you know, for true sports fans this is a pretty good thing. >> Sure is. If you missed that gold medal relay race, or want to watch that volleyball spike again and again. >> For the real die-hard junkies, you can watch up to four events at once. >> And these 2008 summer games, Microsoft, in charge of running nbcolympics.com passed over Adobe's Flash to use its own home-grown software, Silverlight, to deliver video over the web. >> It works on the Intel Macs, it works on Windows. It's a competitor to Flash, so Microsoft is using this, really, as a coming out party for Silverlight. >> How exactly does the sport get transmitted from the actual event or field or stadium all the way to my computer? >> That live feed goes all the way from the stadium to what's known as the International Broadcasting Center in Beijing. Then it gets sent via satellite to NBC facilities in New York. From there they actually add a little bit of delay, so live bloggers can add commentary, and then it gets sent out to a content delivery network that helps make sure it gets efficiently to your Internet service provider, and ultimately to you. >> If you didn't get to see it live it now shows up in the video list as something that is available for rewind. There's highlights and encore content, which is basically content that was produced for television. We then run that through a similar encoding process for rewind, and then that gets pushed out to the site. >> Judging by the numbers, millions of people are tuning in -- or -- logging on. >> Five million viewers, 22 to 25 million streams in just the first five days. >> And the other bit of good news for NBC. >> Most of the people who are watching on the web are still watching on TV. At least from what we're hearing anecdotally. >> I'm only interested in a few events, as well. You know, I guess I don't need -- I don't need TV to watch every single thing. So I just watch the swimming and gymnastics mostly -- tennis -- is all. >> So you would prefer TV, but computer is a good backup? >> For the time being, absolutely. Because I'm not going to -- nobody is going to let me a television on my desk any time soon. >> A lot of my friends do watch it, and they like the fact that there's no sports announcer. So you'll, for example, in basketball you can hear the squeaking sounds, and it actually makes you feel more like you're right there. >> Besides complaints about the streaming quality, there are still some imperfections. >> The only pet peeve I've had is sometimes the commentary has been a few seconds ahead of the action, which is no fun to read about it before you see it. >> And don't expect to watch the marque events live. >> Comparing the first week of these games to the entire Athens games, the video interest online has exploded. In fact, the number of video streams in these five days alone is up 812% to four years ago. I am Carla De Bois, cnet.com. ^M00:02:41 [ Music ]

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