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Web still taking backseat to TV at Olympics

While NBC has made great strides in bringing online content to viewers over the years, the network is still implementing restrictions intended to keep you in front of your TV.

The Olympic Games are supposed to be about international brotherhood and friendly competition, but NBC apparently doesn't want its competition to get too chummy.

NBC, which has the exclusive rights to televise events from the games in Beijing, has made great strides over the years in bringing more content to viewers. For the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, the network set up, but alas it offered little more than photos and schedules intended to drive Web surfers to their TVs.

In 2004, the network discovered high definition, which was nice--unless you weren't too keen on waiting an extra hour for the opening ceremonies to be broadcast, or had no interest in watching the same footage of a diving competition for days on end.

In 2006, NBC seemed to discover the Internet, offering live Internet streaming of the gold medal hockey game at the Turin Winter Olympics.

So it seemed the entertainment giant had finally gotten its act together: in addition to the 1,400 hours of TV coverage, the network plans to enlist the Internet to offer 3,000 hours of on-demand highlights, blogging, analysis, and even fantasy league gaming.

However, the Internet will still be taking a backseat to the TV. NBC will not make televised events available online until after they are seen on TV, Perkins Miller, senior vice president for digital media at NBC Sports, told the Associated Press.

And NBC, which ponied up $3.5 billion to the International Olympics Committee for the rights to televise the games, isn't making friends with other Web sites. is the only site where you will see video coverage of events on the Web. Other Web sites are permitted to show Olympic trials events, but they must link to all that video content must be taken down before the games begin in Beijing.

Is NBC being a bit paranoid about Web sites stealing its TV viewership?

"It's not that we aren't nervous," Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics, told the AP. "But we're up to it, and we're going to perform as we always have in the past."

Maybe NBC will surprise us and do better.

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