Streaming the 2012 Summer Olympics: NBC’s not winning the gold for Android users

This weekend, I worked on setting up my smartphone and laptop to watch NBC’s streaming coverage of the Summer Olympics. Unlike previous years’ TV coverage on NBC (which is uniformly awful), there seems to be some effort at improving things this time. This year, NBC promises to stream online (with Flash, not Silverlight) all Olympic events from start to finish. From the looks of things, they plan on mostly using the generic Olympic feeds for most of this coverage, which means most of the events will either have no announcers at all (just a camera aimed at the events) or will use a generic Olympics-chosen announcer for coverage. Of course, for some of us, no NBC announcers (or manipulative NBC-style coverage) will be a vast improvement.

NBC’s streaming coverage is available online through their Olympics website, as well as on iOS and Android devices. Or so they promised. The reality so far seems to be that a lot of Android devices aren’t supported by NBC’s app for some odd reason—neither my current smartphone, a brand-new model running Ice Cream Sandwich, nor my old LG Optimus V (running Froyo) are supported. See the picture below.

Google Play page for NBC's Olympics app
A screenshot of the Google Play page for NBC’s Olympics app. Note none of my devices are compatible (left), as well as the high number of low scores for the app (right).

Yep, a pretty big let-down so far for a lot of Android mobile device users. (Don’t know how things are on the iOS side of things…) On top of that, NBC is requiring a cable TV subscription for anyone who wants to watch streaming coverage. I guess they (or their Comcast corporate parents) really do fear cord-cutting, since they could’ve just offered the streaming for a one-time fee instead of tying it to a cable TV subscription.

On an even odder note, the only official TV broadcaster Olympics app that’s apparently compatible with my phone is… Canada’s CTV Olympics app. While there’s no live video (per region-blocking, of course), everything else (news clips, statistics, etc.) seems fully functional. Ironic the network I’d probably tune to over NBC (if I had the choice) for Olympics coverage is the only functional broadcaster app.

Thus, it looks like if I want streaming covderage of Olympics events, I’ll have to watch it on my (non-Android-powered) laptop. And if anything is up with that side of things, I’ll let you know. Hopefully, NBC will take the time to rush out an update for the app to fix things for Android users, and (in the future) will allow cord-cutters to pay some one-time fee to watch streaming coverage.

Update (7/27/12): As of this morning, it looks like NBC’s live streaming app’s been updated to support my HTC One V. The Google Play page says it’s still not compatible with the LG Optimus V, so anyone with that particular Virgin Mobile phone (or, I suspect, its cousins in the LG Optimus One series on other carriers) is still out of luck.

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