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NBC Olympics to stream games live on mobile devices

The latest addition to the Olympics tech revamp are two apps that let users watch the world's greatest sports event live from a mobile device.

Video screenshot by Donna Tam/CNET

The NBC Olympics Live Extra app features the streaming of all 32 athletic competitions and the awarding of all 302 medals, while the NBC Olympics app provides content like interviews, news stories, highlight videos and live results, according to a joint press release from NBC and Adobe. (It may be confusing because the "Extra" app is actually the live streaming app, while the one with the extras is call the "NBC Olympics" app.)

"NBC Olympics Live Extra puts the London Olympic Games into the hands of America's tablet and smartphone user, enabling us to once again use advances in technology to provide the broadest possible access to the thousands of hours of Olympic competition," NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel said in a statement.

Adobe's team has been working on this project since the beginning of the year, according to Jeremy Helfand, Adobe's vice president of monetization (or, making money off stuff).

He said he's proud of the way his team has pulled together to deliver the apps so quickly.

"At the end of the day, the Olympics isn't waiting for us, so we have to be darn sure that we can develop the exciting experience anticipated of us," Helfand said in an interview with CNET.

The apps were created using a slew of Adobe products including Creative Suite 6 for design, Adobe AIR to deliver the content and video playback, and Adobe Pass for account authentication, which the live streaming app requires.

Users will need a cable, satellite or telecom company to access the vast majority of the live stream content on NBC Olympics Live Extra. Adobe Pass has been adopted by every U.S. provider, so if you're in the States and you have a TV service provider, you should be OK. There is no additional charge, according to NBC.


Users of NBC Olympics Live Extra will also find that some sports, such such as gymnastics, track and field, and tennis can be watched through multiple streams.

For example, during a session of track and field, instead of viewing a single feed that moves from event to event, a user can watch a stream dedicated to a specific event, like the long jump or javelin.

"It's really an unprecedented opportunity to take content that will be very appealing to audiences and make them available to mobile audiences," Helfand said.

It's a feat befitting an Olympian, considering NBC has been slow to stream the Olympics at all, as most traditional companies would be (they want to keep eyeballs on the tube where the ads are). NBC just recently announced earlier that it would stream all the sports online this year.

Helfand said the company was able to figure out how to incorporate "dynamic ad insertion," which means the apps should emulate a TV-like experience when it comes to advertising.

The apps, which Helfand said will have a balance of ads and content, can be customized based on interests. Users can record events to view later and switch camera views. There's also social media integration and a schedule to see which events are coming up in real time.

The apps will be a nice addition to the Olympics' other interactive experiences for this year's event, including the torch map and a social portal linking athletes and fans.

See a preview of the app in the video below.

Updated at 12:16 p.m. PT: with links to apps in iTunes.