Updated: NBC Likely To Make Men’s USA-FIN Hockey Semi Open Access Online

Hockey on NBCOlympics.com

U.S. hockey fans needed a pay video subscription to watch the USA-CAN women’s gold medal game online but the men’s victory over Switzerland was barrier-free—and paidContent has learned the Friday men’s semi-final with Finland is likely to follow suit. NBC already has promised to broadcast Friday’s game live across the country, unlike the Wednesday tape delay—a decision that may have pleased some affiliates who got to show soaps and Ellen but left many fans of the icy sport red hot.

No one is giving official reasons for the switch, which so far is only for these two games, but it’s no secret that NBC Sports landed in the penalty box for Sunday’s misguided call to put the highly anticipated mens’ USA-Canada match on MSNBC, which is not quite fully available in all multichannel households or in HD across all distributors.

Another possible reason: Wednesday’s game was during office hours, as is Friday’s with puck drop at 3 p.m. Eastern. As CBS (NYSE: CBS) Sports already has learned with March Madness on Demand, daytime online for the right events is like prime time. Will NBC follow suit Sunday? If the USA men make the gold medal game, it would be a) criminal b) suicidal c) dense to wall it off. As a longtime hockey fan, I well know the knock about hockey as a “niche” sport in the U.S. That’s not the case for the Olympics.

And it won’t hurt the next time a member of Congress asks NBCU’s Jeff Zucker about closing online access to cable viewers; the subject came up during today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Comcast-NBCU deal and this could look mighty nice in the written response.

Update: NBC just released its most current stats for “NBCOlympics.com on MSN” (the official name) and one stat stands out: the site served nearly 500,000 live streams of the USA-SUI match mentioned above, the highest number of any live event so far. Given that live online has been limited to hockey and curling, that’s not surprising.

— Through 13 days, 28.9 million video streams served, more than 2.5 million hours of video. (Omniture)

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Haymarket’s Autosport Magazine Launches E-Paper Version

Autosport

As the interest in e-readers is finally starting to emerge, UK mag publisher Haymarket has unveiled an e-paper version of Autosport in a bid to get more overseas subscribers. It will also be available free to all current print subs through its Autosport.com site. The launch of the e-paper version of the mag also comes as Autosport.com’s premium subscriptions quadrupled over the same period last year.

Since Autosport magazine is published in the UK, it often takes a few days to arrive in overseas’ subscribers’ mailboxes. The digital version will, naturally, be available to readers even before the latest issue first hits newsstands. While the e-paper version is a free bonus to current print subs, digital-only subs will have to pay $182.00 (£112.00) for its 51 issues throughout the year. There is currently no monthly tier available. In contrast, a subscription to “Autosport.com plus” costs $8.60 (£5.50) for a month’s access or $74.00 (£46.00) for a year.

Haymarket is currently offering a free sample of the digital issue here. More details in the release as well.

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NBCU Olympics: Digital Is The Future, But TV Is Still King

Olympics2010 Logo

It’s half-way through the Vancouver Olympics and NBC Universal’s research head Alan Wurtzel already has some findings to share about the viewing results so far. Anticipating the ire of bloggers who have complained that NBCU has been holding back too much live coverage of the games from online, Wurtzel made it clear that the network considers online viewing something for tomorrow, but “TV is still king today.” Still, Wurtzel had a number of stats related to online that he wanted to trumpet, particularly if it suggested that multitudes are watching more digital than before, with a large extent seeing it as an addition to TV. For online, Wurtzel said, “Here’s the headline: about half of those using NBCOlympics.com didn’t use it during the Summer Games in Beijing.”

The internet use, so far, has been more than double the entire 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. NBCU is also using a single source from Arbitron’s panel for both TV and internet viewing.

—93 percent of those who watched Apolo Ohno’s silver speed skating event never saw it on TV.

—In the men’s short program, 56 percent of those who watched figure skater Johnny Weir watched it for the first time online, while 44 percent watched it on TV first and turned to online video to relive it. “We’ve always thought that internet video viewing is a solitary event, but the research showed us that two-thirds of the people we interviewed said they watched a web video of the Olympics at least once with somebody else, while 16 percent said they regularly watched with others.”

Mobile: Not only is the growth huge, but it’s mainstreaming. 11 million mobile visits in Vancouver versus 8 million in Beijing. Seven out of 10 who are using mobile now to watch the olympics didn’t use their phones to view the Beijing games. There have been 1.1 million mobile app users to date for the Olympics.

Simultaneous viewing: Over half have watched TV and used the internet site at the same time. The same percent for mobile.

Google’s help: Wurtzel touted the research the network is doing with Google? on search results tied to the Olympics broadcast. During the opening ceremonies, NBCU ran a video on TV featuring the song “We Are The World” to promote assistance to the Haitian earthquake victims. Google? searches for the keyword “Haiti” went up 500 percent and remained high subsequently.

Brand recall: Advertisers who bought Olympics spots both online and offline saw an average boost in brand recall from consumers of roughly 16 percent—versus just buying one or the other.

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Watching the Tiger Woods Apology Live

This morning Tiger Woods made his first public statement in months, holding a press conference at the PGA Tour Headquarters to respond to criticism from the media since his history of infidelity became public. But I wasn’t interested in the content of Tiger’s apology, so much as I wanted to see how the different online video streams fared during the press conference. So how did they rate?

It appears all the live video streams came from the same feed, but there were some differences in encoding quality and lag between them. YouTube’s live stream at CitizenTube had the clearest and highest-quality video in my experience, transmitting at 720p. But YouTube’s video seemed a half-second behind the other live streaming players from Hulu, Ustream, and Livestream. YouTube did have a fast startup when launched, however, compared to some of the other streams. The AP Live feed from Livestream seemed to have the slowest startup time, but once the video started it was in line with Hulu and others.

Interestingly, CNN’s video seemed to significantly lag the other provider’s live streams. This could be due in part to Turner Broadcasting using peer-to-peer technology from Octoshape for its live streams. While the plugin could lower costs for the news organization while providing a higher-quality stream, the P2P aspect might have introduced a few seconds of lag time between CNN’s stream and other live video providers.

While Ustream’s social commenting feature is one of the main draws for some people, it appears that the comments were turned off for the CBS News feed. Considering the comments that were coming in before the video started (“THIS IS SPARTA,” for instance), it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that audience participation was suppressed during the broadcast.

Related content on GigaOM Pro (subscription required): Hulu and the End of Free TV

Vid-Biz: CBS, Comcast-NBC, Hulu

CBS: We’ll Cut iTunes Prices for Some Shows; CEO Les Moonves says the broadcaster will mark down the price on some of its shows from $1.99 to 99 cents. (MediaMemo) Moonves also boasted about the importance of retransmission fees and growth at the company’s cable channels. (paidContent)

Roberts, Zucker To Appear Before House Judiciary Committee; the House Judiciary Committee will hold a Feb. 25 hearing in which Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and NBC Universal president Jeff Zucker will discuss their proposed $30 billion joint venture. (Multichannel News)

Will You Pay for Hulu on the iPad? It May Be Your Only Choice; the most likely scenario for Hulu to appear on the iPad is one where access to its videos comes as part of a subscription package. (MediaMemo)

The People Of Twitter Think NBC’s Olympics Coverage Sucks; NBC is driving people on the Internet crazy by tape-delaying coverage of the Olympics until primetime, with roughly two thirds of tweets about the NBC Olympics coming up as negative. (TechCrunch)

Sports Leagues Monetizing Video Content Online; led by the trailblazing efforts of Major League Baseball, other top US sports leagues have made huge strides in streaming live-game content on a paid basis. (eMarketer)

2010 Looks Brighter for Digital Media; online video continues to capitalize on the continued increase in media fragmentation, consumer-generated content, and a rising generation of consumers very comfortable using their computers as primary or secondary entertainment devices. (MarketingVox)

Best Online Resources for Following 2010 Winter Olympics

Spoiler alert! Thanks to NBC's use of time delay in broadcasting the Olympics to the Western U.S., those who live their lives online during the day are bound to find out what happened long before it airs in prime-time. Anyone who doesn't want to know the results prior to airtime is going to have to avoid just about every website they frequent, from Twitter to Facebook to newspaper sites, and even their email in-box (those CNN email alerts aren't so helpful when filled with spoilers).

The broadcast delay -- as well as the authentication requirement to view live video online -- has people seething in towns as close as Seattle is to Vancouver. In fact, sports blog Deadspin has been collecting various reader complaints about NBC's tape delay, dubbing it the "Tape-Delaympics." And one reader, Kat, wrote in to note how much better Canadian TV coverage was:

I was just talking about it last night with a friend of mine. Both of us are Canadian and have been totally impressed with the coverage here. They've got it live on at least 3 channels at all times to catch everything, plus 2 channels in french with their own coverage, and the main CTV channel doing live coverage as well as interviews and regular news breaks.

Beyond the broadcast brouhaha, Olympic coverage is not just for credentialed journalists anymore. Alternative and citizen journalists armed with digital cameras, or even just cell phone cameras, are capturing what's happening in front of them -- even if the IOC would prefer they didn't.

So if you don't mind the spoilers, here's a cheat sheet to help you find relevant Olympics coverage online, whether it's on special websites, photo sites, video-sharing or Twitter lists. Thanks to mash-ups and curated aggregation, there are not only more forms of multimedia coverage of the Olympics, but also more innovative ways to see what's happening and who's talking about what -- including the Olympic athletes themselves.

Special sites and pages

CBC's Vancouver Now

ESPN Winter Olympics page

Huffington Post's Winter Olympics 2010 page

NBCOlympics.com

Official Schedule and Results

Olympic.org IOC site

NY Times Olympic Tracker with personalized schedule

NY Times Olympics section

Rabble.ca's Alternative Olympics Coverage

SB Nation Olympics page (via @Bankoff, among others)

Sports Illustrated's Olympics section

Thoora's Olympics page

Vancouver 2010 official site

Vancouver Sun's Olympics page

Yahoo Sports coverage

Twitter lists and searches

AP Olympic Athletes list

AP Olympic Staff list

BBC presenters, journalists and experts

Bloggers, journalists, locals and True North Media House list from @northgeek

Huffington Post's Winter Olympics LIVE lists (via Craig Kanalley)

kk's Vancouver 2010 Olympics list

NBC Olympics Tweet Tracker

NY Times' athletes and reporters list

NY Times' Winter Olympics media list

Twitter verified Olympians

Winter Olympics Athletes on Twitter on Twitter-Athletes.com

Twitter feeds

2010Tweets from VANOC

AP_WinterGames

Apolo Anton Ohno

Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post (via Christopher Connell)

CTVOlympics

Jeff Lee of Vancouver Sun

Juliet Macur of the NY Times

Kardboard

Miss604

NBCOlympics

Randy Starkman of Toronto Star

Robert Scales

Shani Davis

Swiss Olympic Team

Facebook pages

Olympic Games page

Olympic mini-games app

Lindsey Vonn fan page

NY Times Olympics Coverage on Facebook

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

Photos

Blackbird's Flickr photo sets

CTVOlympics.ca photo stream on Flickr

Kris Krug's Winter Olympics photo sets on Flickr

Robert Scales' Vancouver 2010 Olympics set on Flickr

Map of Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Pool on Flickr

Here's a Flickr photo gallery from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics pool

Roy Tanck's Flickr Widget requires Flash Player 9 or better.

Get this widget at roytanck.com

Video

BBC Olympic video

CBC Olympic video

CTVOlympics.ca World feed schedule

VANOC official highlights page on YouTube

NBCOlympics Video page includes highlights and some live streams (if authenticated with your pay-TV provider)

Watch Live Olympic Coverage Online -- go down to pull-down menu at bottom of page and choose your country

Yahoo Sports video mostly from wire services such as AP

Mobile apps and sites

Cowbell2010, so your phone can ring like a cowbell

Foursquare app with NY Times

NBCOlympics mobile app (via @tsutrav)

Official Mobile Spectator Guide from Bell, an iPhone app (via @tsutrav)

Vancouver Sun mobile site

Vancouver 2010

Blog posts and articles

American Networks Serve Advertisers First and Viewers Last at Huffington Post

The gold medals for best mobile Olympics sites go to... at Poynter.org

5 Android Apps for the 2010 Winter Olympics experience at Androinica

Foursquare Partners with Zagat, New York Times at ReadWriteWeb

Get Ready for Some Olympic-Sized Authentication Frustration at NewTeeVee

NBC's tape-delay coverage of Olympics frustrating for sports fans

NBCOlympics delivers 8.1 million video streams in first four days at NBC Universal press release

Olympic madness at Seattle Times

Sharing the Olympic Magic with Fans at the Facebook blog

Vancouver 2010 - Olympics, Twitter Tracker For Top Countries at NowPublic

Watching the 2010 Winter Olympics Online Around the World at NewTeeVee

What Olympic tape-delay controversy? NBC still doesn't get it at Seattle Times

Where to Watch the 2010 Winter Olympics Online at NewTeeVee

What online resources do you use to keep up with the Winter Games? Share your favorites in the comments below and we'll update this list with any ommissions.

For more Olympic coverage at MediaShift, check out these posts:

Citizen, Alternative Media Converge at Olympic Games in Vancouver by Kris Krug

Inside the Social Media Strategy of the Winter Olympic Games by Craig Silverman

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

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Lindsey Vonn’s Shin Gives in, Crash Gives Germany’s Maria Riesch Gold Medal

Those who doubted Lindsey Vonn’s injuries when she soared to a gold medal finish in last night’s women’s downhill skiing event can now believe. Vonn, who had been suffering from an injury on her right shin sustained during a practice run, held the pain back just enough to win her medal last night, but just crashed while seeking her second medal in the women’s super combined competition. NPR reported that she was visibly limping and complaining that the injury was “not good” this morning. She managed to maintain her lead during the downhill portion of the competition, but wiped out, giving up the lead– and the gold medal– to her friend Maria Riesch of Germany.

The United States is still leading the pack in total number of medals with 14, though Germany is close behind with a total of 10.

Note: While this competition has yet to air in the US (thanks NBC tape delay!), the results were first reported by NBC on the subsidiary Twitter feed Breaking News, and is now being reported on NBCOlympics.com.

[Image via NY Daily News]