Event-viewing used to require physical attendance, but today, consumers throughout the world can be first-hand witnesses of live events from their televisions, computers and/or mobile devices.

With the opening of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing last Friday, new technology is being used more than ever before.
NBC executives explained they were shocked at how many people have never used their mobile devices to download media or stream video before the 2008 Olympics.
"To some extent, the Olympics are beginning to influence how people use new technology," said Alan Wurtzel, research president for NBC Universal.
After reading the article, NBC Records Viewing Habits for Olympic Games by one of our editors, Susan Campbell, I was amazed to find that U.S. citizens downloaded close to 1.7 million video streams of Monday's swimming relay where the U.S. team came from behind to beat France. This news release also revealed that 1.5 million video streams were e-mailed from one person to another
NBC has worried in the past that airing events on cable outlets would take interest away from prime time TV, but it seems the opposite appears to be true. In fact, the increased attention to the digital world seems to boost network viewing, generating a great return on NBC's investment in the games.
Predictably, NBC Universal's first weekend of summer Olympics coverage from China - including its live TV and affiliate airings on channels such as MSNBC, online video streaming and other Internet offerings - reportedly have set the peacock network on a pace to become history's most watched games.
Also predictably, not everyone is happy with the coverage.
Despite concerns in the weeks leading up to the games that NBC's restrictions on who could show what and how - following the network's $900 million investment for the rights to broadcast the Beijing Olympics - would be more restrictive than the communist host nation's own rules, reports are emerging that Saturday night's 24.1 million average viewers bested Athens by nearly 4.5 million viewers.
The figures come as NBC, Olympics organizers, government officials and multimedia outlets - backed by technologies that allow for faster and higher quality video streaming - debate what's fair and best in delivering the games to viewers' TV's, computers, cell phones and other mobile devices.
As Jill Geer, USA Track & Field's director of communications, reportedly told the Sports Business Journal: "This is the first Olympic trials where new media has been relevant. Everybody's trying to figure it out."
Some hi-tech insiders are flatly wowed by the reach of NBC's ambition.
As Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports, the 3,600 combined hours of coverage from the network - including 1,400 hours on TV and 2,200 hours of streaming online - will form the equivalent of 150 days' worth of round-the-clock games.
Yet the live coverage on the Internet - mostly for lower-profile sports such as handball and archery - won't show anything live that NBC intends to broadcast later on its TV network, where millions of dollars in advertising are at stake.
The coverage "rules" have rubbed some the wrong way.
One blogger, Chris Matyszczyk, said he was disappointed with the video feed from NBC online and called the network's manipulation of what's been coming out of Beijing "censorship."
"Here's what is strange about NBC's online coverage: I have no idea what I am watching," Matyszczyk writes. "Yes, I have clicked on the commentary, which takes the form of a live blog stream - except that the writer is endearingly honest about his predicament."
Some media outlets, including The New York Times, appear to have found effective ways to bring the Olympics home to viewers and even adding something more to their coverage.
For example, look at the venerable newspaper's multimedia piece on Michael Phelps' first gold medal win in the 400 meter individual medley, here, with graphics bringing to life the still photographs and narrative of a writer. Again, the Times does an outstanding job with last night's incredible win for a U.S. foursome that brought home gold in the 400 meter freestyle relay, thanks to anchorman Jason Lezak.
NBC has long touted its online coverage of the Olympics as "free," yet this writer's attempt to access highlight clips of the games was thwarted after he entered information into a form about his ZIP code and TV service provider.
Certainly gathering that kind of information - about who is watching the Olympics and which events, from where, on what form of media - will serve NBC and others well.
As The New York Times has already reported, NBC is obsessively tracking its Olympics audience across different media platforms.
"The exhaustive coverage of the Summer Olympics from Beijing next month - 3,600 hours on television and online - presents NBC Universal with a problem: how to give advertisers a portrait of viewership on seven networks, the Internet (both computers and cellphones) and video-on-demand downloads," Richard Sandomir writes for the paper.
Michael Dinan is a TMCNet Editor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
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Starting tonight, you might see someone walking on the street, sitting in a coffee shop or riding on the subway tuned into the opening ceremony of the Olympics. In the coming weeks, you may see people watching live Olympic events on their mobile devices or ones that happened the previous day.
That's why the 2008 Olympics in Beijing isn't your grandmother's Olympics. And thanks to the leaps and bounds of technology in recent years, it's not even your mother's Olympics.
For the first time, viewers will be in charge of where and when they watch the Olympic games with Anystream Technology. They can watch from laptops, mobile phones and television on demand.
Anystream, chosen by NBC Universal, will orchestrate the entire digitization and publishing of more than 2,000 hours of Olympic programming to more than 16 on-demand destinations.
NBC realizes that consumers are moving beyond the "prime time only" viewing model and want programming delivered to them on all devices. This is especially true with the 12-hour time delay between the United States and Beijing because it will be impossible to keep the results of some events hidden.
Anystream will deliver 10,000 gold medal events to viewers around the world. Once video arrives from Beijing, Anystream will grab video from partner broadcast servers, editing systems and other digital sources.
Anystream transforms and customizes the video into formats ready for 16 syndication outlets. Content originating in Beijing is easily converted between PAL and NTSC formats for domestic viewing, as well as between SD and HD for the first-ever high-def Olympic experience.
Anystream will package the video with the correct title information, images and athlete statistics for dozens of popular web, mobile and electronic sell through destinations, including NBCOlympics.com.
Being a former gymnast and huge fan of the sport, this is good news because I always feel like I miss my favorite athletes. This year, I will be able to catch the events wherever and whenever I want.
As the 2008 Beijing Olympics kick off, ensuring that all the events run smoothly and free from security breaches or possible terrorist attacks is a main concern.
To help protect spectators, athletes and others from these threats, Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) worked with Universal Detection Technology of California.
The company provides counter-terrorism consulting and training services and is a developer of early-warning monitoring technologies. They will be providing devices able to detect Gamma and Neutron Radiation.
In addition to the 80,000 security personnel for the Olympics, first responders, border control staff, customs inspectors and site security personnel in critical infrastructures will be equipped with these instruments.
Consumers might not be aware of it, but many mobile service and content providers are in the midst of a major campaign to raise awareness about how the mobile Web can be used, with the goal of attracting and keeping new customers. Why now? One word: Olympics. It's a great time to market mobile services because lots of people are interested in using mobile devices to keep tabs on their favorite athletes during the Games.
In a Q&A published today on TMCnet, mobile Internet solutions company Bytemobile's Adiran Hall talks about the benefits and shortcoming of the mobile Web, and what players in the industry are doing to make this mode of communications, information access and entertainment more appealing.
In particular, Hall focuses on what it will take to convince consumers that the mobile Web is worth using. During the Olympics, providers have a unique opportunity to wow the public with advances in on-the-go Internet apps.
Most people will spend a lot of their spare time during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games tracking the performance of their favorite athletes. And, there certainly will be plenty of sports-related news during the Olympics. But there also will be technology news surrounding the Games as well... and this news is already hitting the wires.
Below is a sampling of stories covered so far this week on TMCnet about how different technologies are being used to transmit news about competitions and keep visitors to Beijing safe.
With the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games tomorrow, 8/8/08, a lot of pressure has been put on technology to help raise Olympic viewing numbers and also attract younger viewers.
In a recent article covering the Olympics and its new reliance on technology, I was surprised to discover that the average viewer for the Winter Athens Games in 2004 was 40 years old.
However, with the rise of technology and the Internet becoming more mobile, anyone with a cell phone and a Wi-Fi connection is now able to tune into the Olympics. We know that kids of all ages now carry cell phones with them, to school, to friends' houses, and to after school activities for "safety" reasons (and peace of mind of their parents). Because of this, younger generations can watch the Games at summer camp, the beach or in their backyards.
Many kids are also more familiar and up-to-date with the latest Internet offerings, and often more than their parents. With the 2008 Beijing Olympics being dubbed as the "first digital Olympics", the amount of youngsters tuning in should increase.
And if anything, today's teens should tune in to see eight-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps set a new swimming record.
Both the Internet and mobile devices have grown in importance and popularity today for their ability to expand the reach and capabilities of users.
As the world prepares for the upcoming 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, these technologies make possible the viewing of the games from more than just a television set.  
Adobe Systems, for example, announced it entered into a strategic relationship with CCTV.com to offer viewers a next-generation online experience and will deliver coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games over the Internet using Adobe Flash and Flex technology.
Digital Rapids also announced it will power live Web streaming of the Beijing Olympics for CCTV.com using its Rapids Broadcast Manager software and 100 DRC-Stream encoding and streaming systems.
Also, to make it possible for the giant number of on-the-go users to stay tuned into the Olympic Games, Lenovo and Spreadtrum communications announced a new digital mobile-TV equipped TD-SCDMA handset for China Mobile.
Lenovo's new TD9000's are being distributed to the Beijing Olympics volunteers and staff members with additional handsets to also be delivered to China Mobile before the Olympic Games.
Not only is the ability to watch the upcoming games via one's cell phones beneficial for users, but marketers are also finding benefit in the ability to better target their mobile marketing and connect advertisers with consumers. Read more in this TMCnet article.
Remember to check back regularly for all the latest in Olympic Technology.
The opinions and views expressed in comments, blogs, etc. are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of TMC, TMCnet, or its editors. TMCnet reserves the right to edit, delete, or otherwise make changes to the content that appears on these pages at its own discretion and as it deems necessary.


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