Considering that the 2008 Summer Olympics start on August 8th, there was a rather odd announcement by the International Olympic Committee yesterday that Google’s YouTube will provide "about three hours a day of exclusive content from the IOC’s Olympic Broadcasting Services on a dedicated channel during the Games." The content will include highlights and daily wrap-ups provided by the IOC, but not live coverage. No word on how many languages will be supported.
Hold on a sec – what about NBC which has partnered with Microsoft’s MSN to show the Games online in the USA? Not to worry – the IOC sells exclusive national online rights just like they sell national broadcast rights and YouTube will be geotargeting the Olympics channel so that only Internet users in "77 territories – South Korea, India and Nigeria among them – that aren’t officially covered by Olympic sponsors" can view it.
This likely isn’t a bonanza for YouTube since they will only be allowed to sell ads to Olympic sponsors and and if there was much online video viewing interest in the Olympics in these countries, someone would already have picked up the franchise. While all of this makes sense from a monetary view, doesn’t the national restriction of Internet rights seem a trifle wacky?
The national franchises do get around the language problem and provide enhanced coverage of contests of particular national interest, but I guess the bottom line is that there is no single online site that could (or wants to do) the whole worldwide job. On the other hand, bootleg Olympics videos have already started appearing on regular old garden variety YouTube.