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Testing NBC's Olympic live-stream: It works (I think)

An early encounter with the NBC Olympic live-stream suggests a slightly eerie experience, where there are no commentators, save for distant English voices.

Old-school coverage of the Games.
Wikimedia Commons

I got up early this morning, just to try NBC's Olympics live-stream.

That's a lie. I have jet lag. But NBC's traditionally brilliant coverage would have got me up anyway.

That's something of a lie, too. As my colleague Ben Dreyfuss explained on his deeply engaging Twitter feed: "Bob Costas: Here's Bangladesh, which is just overflowing with terrible athletes! #OpeningCeremonies."

Look, I couldn't sleep, so I thought I'd see whether NBC's live-streaming was slightly better than its live, steaming nonsense about not showing the opening ceremony live.

Here's my story so far.

Logging on was extremely easy. The only question I had to answer concerned my cable company. I gave the NBC site the name and I was in. Yes, just like that. I didn't have to offer a password. I didn't even have to spell my name out -- which, even after all these years, still doesn't work so easily through QWERTY.

I went straight to the badminton. Not because I necessarily wanted to watch it, but because I thought that if this was being shown in some passable fashion, then there would be hope.

There was. For there was a boy and girl from Denmark with peculiarly tired-looking faces flicking their wrists at the shuttlecock.

The next stop was beach volleyball. Well, of course. It's being played almost in the Queen's back garden. Which is a little like setting up an open-air swimming pool in Irkutsk. Thus far, both men and women are baring the appropriate amounts of flesh, despite the obviously unbeachlike conditions.

One thing might strike some viewers as eerie. There is no commentary. It's a little like going to school with no teacher. Suddenly you have to think for yourself. Which, for many, might be a little cumbersome.

You do have to listen to the occasional enthusiasm of the crowd stirrer-uppers at the actual event, who all sound like DJs co-opted from local radio stations.

Currently, I am watching the USA take on the feisty Croatians at women's basketball. Again, there are no commentators. Yet, during a time-out, you can hear every word uttered between U.S. coach Geno Auriemma and his players.

One could actually get used to this. It is bizarrely authentic.

On my laptop, picture quality is really quite good. The camera work is slightly above that practiced by the average New England Patriots' staff member.

Yes, you have to put up with ads. But I lost count of the number of ads that were pumped out during the opening ceremony on TV when they finally showed it.

However, I am not sure this stream and my Firefox are always going to get along. There have already been a couple of times when, oh, everything froze.

Still, there is a certain genial purity about watching the Olympics in this way. And, for the first time ever, NBC is promising that every event will be live-streamed.

I continue to struggle, though, with the omnipresence of the London 2012 logo. It looks like something a right-handed designer created with his left hand.

Talking of right-handers, it's half-time in the basketball. So now for the Russia/Angola women's handball game. The refs are from Macedonia. Will they be biased?