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NBC Seeks Limits on Live Olympics Online Coverage
4/14/2009

NEW YORK: NBC is seeking a way to discourage the hoi polloi from accessing its live, online coverage of Olympics events. The network is working on a plan to limit the content to broadband subscribers who also have a pay TV package with a distributor that cuts a deal with NBC. Cablevision broadband subscribers were reportedly cut out of 2008 Olympics coverage because that operator opted not to do a deal. Sports Business Journal originally reported NBC’s plan to tighten up its authentication process to keep the masses off its online Olympics platform.

About 20 percent of the broadband video coverage of the Beijing Olympics was live. The 2010 Games from Vancouver could generate more given the time zone affinity.

Authentication is the key to NBC’s intended restriction. SBJ says it’s working on a system that matches users Internet Protocol addresses to that of their service providers. The system used for the Beijing Games simply asked users to select a provider from a ZIP code associated list.

Several cable networks are reported to be working on similar systems to prevent too much migration away from their TV platforms. Cable could also use authentication systems to crate a value-add for attracting broadband subscribers, particularly now that those same companies seek to charge more for heavy bandwidth use.

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