I'm in hog heaven right now. I've got nothing to do today but munch on linzer tarts and watch the first day of 2008 Olympic games live from Bejing, China. And if the mood strikes me (as it obviously has), maybe even do a bit of blogging.
Unlike with previous Olympics, during which I was limited only to broadcast television coverage, this time I have 24/7 access to all events live, as they happen. And it's not because I've broken down and started paying for cable or satellite TV, but because of the technology in use at NBColympics.com.
Never mind the stuff you'd expect to see--event news and schedules, athlete pics, profiles and taped interviews, and video highlights and the like--on a Web site dedicated to the event; that's all there. Also standard is the medal count table, listing the top countries and their takes of gold, silver and bronze. Clicking on a country brings you details of who and what. A nifty and useful feature I don't recall seeing on prior Olympic Web sites is a time converter showing your local time and that of Beijing. There's mobile access to content and an alerts feature that will message your phone with breaking news and medal alerts, event reminders and even video and photos. And depending on your carrier and level of service, you can even watch events live on your phone.
All that's great, but the best part for me is this: Thanks to an enhanced video viewer a la Microsoft's Silverlight, you can watch not just one or two, but as many as four live events at any one time. At left is a vertical pane listing all the sports, with live ones emblazoned with a red "Live" icon. Clicking on one launches the Silverlight player (which worked flawlessly, I should add, and on a Mac, no less!). Surrounding the main video are thumbnails of others, an interface that should be familiar. To select an event to view, the Silverlight player presents thumbnails that when clicked become the main view.
An "On Now" box is visible on every page, showing the event currently airing on your local NBC affiliate, which it knows if you entered your zip code when prompted the first time you arrived at the site. Below that program note is a button taking you to complete Olympic program listings, at which you would find me firmly parked.
And did I mention that it's all FREE???