An Open Letter To NBC

and why I’m watching Canadian Olympic Coverage…

I love the Olympics. I can still remember watching it with my family as a child; it was an event, an adventure, and a time to see the whole world come together. At the age of five I hadn’t heard of most of the countries involved so I learned about them and their athletes through the sports they competed in. In short, it was awesome, and it started a fascination and appreciation I’ve had for people and cultures all over the world for my entire life.

My wife is Canadian and also loves the Olympics, and we both happen to really enjoy figure skating, snow boarding, and skiing (yes, we’re a good match!). Four years ago we made the trip to Vancouver to see the Olympics in-person, it was more amazing than I could have possibly imagined, honestly, it was absolutely magical. We spent our days watching the events and our nights out at Country-themed houses like German House and Russian House where you could experience the food, drinks, and music of that country.

That’s when it clicked for me. What makes the Olympics truly special is the fact that people from all over the world come together. We were welcomed into the Russian House, welcomed into the Swiss House, welcomed to every house we visited. We met amazing people from around the world, shared a beer, a laugh, a few stories, it was incredible.

We decided not to make the trip out to Sochi for the Olympics this year for a number of reasons. Which means we find ourselves at home in Southern California with absolutely no way to watch live Olympic coverage. We’re both very active on Twitter so we need to watch it live otherwise the results will be ruined (often by NBC themselves). Couple this with the fact that we both also actively use Facebook and read the news and you can understand why pre-recorded events wouldn’t cut it.

Sadly there is no way for us to watch the Olympics live thanks to NBC’s incredibly restrictive way of providing access to Olympic coverage in the US. Intead we can only watch the Olympics during “Prime Time” and about 75% of the events are not covered so everything we see tends to just show US athletes. We know the outcomes from being on Twitter for more than 30 seconds in the morning so the evening events are just piecing together results we already know. The funny thing is NBC themselves are tweeting the results…they just aren’t showing the coverage.

We have read about all the events other countries are doing and the amazing runs and records they are making. The problem is, even during our 3.5 hour “Prime Time” window we are missing some amazing events because if the US isn’t a top contender, it doesn’t get covered.

We want to change the channel and see different Olympic events every direction we go but instead we have one channel. This morning we woke-up to watch the Olympics only to find-out that we can’t start watching until 2:00PM and then only for a few hours.

In short, the magic is gone.

By not providing live coverage of the Olympics, NBC has made it impossible to enjoy something that we look forward to so much. So today we made the decision to say goodbye to NBC, pony up the $12/month fee, and buy a Canadian IP address so we can watch CBC’s live coverage.

The magic is back!

Like the rest of the world, Canada’s CBC is providing live coverage of the Olympics and also providing free live streaming for anyone located within the country. While NBC does have a “Live Extra” feature, you need to have an account with an existing cable/satellite provider and need the NBCU channel (provided in standard or higher packages) to use this feature. We don’t have this so that means we can only watch NBC during it’s two several hour “Prime Time” blocks every day.

Now that we’re streaming the Olympics on CBC we can change channels to see different live events and, what really makes the difference to us, we are seeing athletes from all over the world compete together. It’s amazing and I can tell you that we are gaining an appreciation for some amazing athelets that nobody in the US will ever know about because NBC isn’t highlighting their achievements. It’s just sad, and in the end it’s about one thing and one thing only — money.

At the end of the day kids around the world won’t see all the amazing countries that come together to make the Olympics so amazing. They won’t experience the thrill of watching a world record being broken live, and there will be some sports that they just won’t see at all. What they will see are more ads and more NBC programming than ever before. NBC will make a fortune.

We‘re glad to have the Olympics we know and love back. It’s just too bad we can’t watch the only coverage available in the country that we live. Go anywhere else in the world and this isn’t the case, and that’s why we’ll be watching the Olympics in Canada this year, via Los Angeles…

I’d ask for someone from NBC to comment but let’s be realistic, this is a very lucrative financial decision for them. They aren’t going to apologize, they’re just going to keep ringing the register, but is that really the American way?


I got an insane amount of email asking me how to stream CBC from the US, so I wrote a post about it here. Enjoy! ☺

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