As I type this I've been up for 30 minutes watching Asian people dance while waving pink pompoms. Occasionally someone says something in Cantonese (or maybe it's Mandarin, I always get them mixed up). Did I mention it was 6:10 a.m.?
I might have a problem.
I'm able to do this bizarre thing because of the magic of live Internet streaming. These Olympics are the first to take place in the emerging webcast era. The technology is undoubtedly going to change how we watch events like the Games. No longer are we going to be a slave to the networks. Rather, we will pick and choose exactly what we want to see.
It will be interesting to see how the teevee folks react. Especially in the Great Republic to the south of us where they like to package their American Heroes into bite sized pieces easily digestible in prime time. Although in 2008 there probably aren't a lot of Omaha housewifes using proxies to tap into international webcasts, or downloading programming from P2P sources, that could change in four years time. Whether that means that NBC will actually start to show more live events, or whether more will get shuffled off to the cable networks, is an unanswerable question now. An interesting one, but unanswerable.
Here in Canada, we already get a lot of live programming, so the impact may not be as noticeable. One thing we might see, however, is less actual sports on the tube with the network doing more profiling and cultural stuff before shuffling us sports geeks off to the 'net to watch the event live while editors get busy cutting out the Albanian the finishes 17th so we can see the three medalists and the kid from Moose Jaw that overcame a hangnail to bravely compete. Don't pay attention to the bib numbers. They'll show you the performances in the order they damn well want to.