Olympic streaming is still not right

posted by Jeff | Thursday, July 29, 2021, 7:51 PM | comments: 0

My big joke about sports is that I refer to it generically as "sportsball," because I don't get really committed to any of it. Sometimes I get into the NBA in spurts, mostly when Cleveland doesn't suck. I watch the Super Bowl every year, but mostly for the commercials. The last MLB game I saw in person was in Seattle in 2011, and I couldn't even tell you who the other team was.

But I love volleyball. I enjoy the indoor women competition in particular, given the decade plus that I coached teenage girls in the sport. It's the only sport I've ever been good at, and even then, it took years of coaching for me to get there. I understand the sport in a visceral and instinctive way, and adopted an entire philosophy based in part on the US men of the 90's. And now, one of the icons of that era, Karch Kiraly, is the head coach of the US women. I have his flipping bobble head and saw him play on the AVP circuit in his last year as a player.

But the US national team under USA Volleyball, that's the pinnacle of girl power volleyball, and I absolutely love it. It's hard to find the non-Olympic play online, and I hoped that it would be better this year in the Olympics. The reality is that it's sort of good, but not entirely. I remember the year that they had almost everything, streaming almost every event with NBC, I think in 2012. That year, I watched almost every game of the female side of the tournament, which means dozens of games. I just loved it. This year, I can watch all of the US matches in replay on the Peacock service, but I can't watch the non-US matches. The only way I can see all of the matches, as far as I can tell, is if I'm a cable subscriber with a certain amount of TV subscription, based on some kind of contracts I'm sure. I have Spectrum, a business account, with no TV service, so I can't do it. I can't AmEx my way into access.

Why do I care? Does it matter? I want to watch it all! In this case, I'm interested because Turkey kicked China's ass hard in their first pool play match, and Turkey was not expected to influence outcomes, while China was the favorite for gold. But now China has lost twice, to Turkey and the USA. What was so good about Turkey, or was China just having a bad day? I'll never know!

In an ideal world, if you're interested in all the things in the Olympics (and I would like to watch more tennis, which is always going to be more than US players), there should be a way to do that. I don't know what it should, or would cost, but that's not the point. It's not an option no matter what.

I hope they figure this out in LA in 2024. This seems like it should be a solved problem, and I'm sure it has something to do with the licensing agreements already in place. I know that football fans are still struggling with this, tied to geography and terrestrial TV contracts getting in the way.


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