In the United States, NBC owns the Olympics broadcast rights, which simplifies the viewing equation to one content provider (or hamstrings it, depending on one's point of view). In addition to the edited prime time broadcast of selected events, U.S. viewers can watch additional events (live and post-production) on CNBC and NBC Sports Network.
The Live Extra app can be downloaded to iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. (Source: NBC Sports Group)
The broadcaster isn't giving as much publicity to its YouTube channel, a partnership it heavily touted back in 2012. Viewers can still watch completed events, athlete profiles and other short features on the channel. YouTube is offering its own Olympics channel, TeamUSA, that features athlete profiles and back stories. And the Olympics organization itself has a channel with country-specific guides and its own videos, mostly athlete profiles.
Authenticated viewers (those with qualifying subscriptions to cable, IPTV and satellite providers that have partnered with NBC Sports) can watch events streamed over NBC's Live Extra app, which can be downloaded to iOS or Android devices. They can also authenticate and watch at nbcolympics.com/live-extra.
And that's important, because second-screen viewing is where it's at, to both viewers and NBC. An Adobe Digital Index report for Q4 2013 found that 42 percent of TV Everywhere content is being viewed on mobile devices, particularly tablets. Sports are enjoying a huge boom among these viewers: 37 percent of TV Everywhere content streams are for sporting events. So it's not surprising that NBC has continued to invest in content streaming to devices.
Viewer reviews of the mobile app are tepid. "Sochi was more prepared for the Winter Olympics than this app," one Apple App Store user griped, and another called the live feed "troublesome." The feed is certainly sporadic: One reviewer suggested that Live Extra's unofficial motto is "Coverage will resume momentarily," the overlay slide that displays as live video buffers—often for several minutes in the case of popular events. Some are unhappy that the app is not supported by Apple TV, which keeps them from easily watching live streamed events on their TV sets.
Other reviewers lamented the new 30 minute trial period for first-time, non-authenticated users. Once the half-hour trial ends, viewers of the Live Extra app or NBC's website can only watch 5 minutes of streaming, unless they confirm their subscription to a participating cable, satellite or IPTV provider.
Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, was also dinged this week as GigaOM reported that subscribers to its $40 monthly "Internet Plus" tier, which targets cord cutters with a package of basic television channels and HBO along with a broadband subscription, cannot get authenticated on the NBC Sports Live Extra app.