During the Olympics I've helped manage the local newsroom of The Vancouver Sun, whose team online and in print has done (IMHO) an exceptional job in breaking news and crafting strong coverage, features and commentary on the Games --- along with some breathtaking photographs, graphics and non-competition video.
It is on that latter front of video that I want to post, because I think technology will make these the last Games in which the broadcast rights can be generally protected.
Next Olympics in London in 2012, the social media pressure and overall Internet aggression will make it impossible for the Games broadcasters to protect their domestic markets --- in fact, they really couldn't even now.
It was possible these Games to mask your IP address and dip into another country's video feed. I cannot believe that in two years, with the attention on the Summer Games being much more than they are on our Winter ones, it will be feasible to retain broadcast sovereignty.
It means that the broadcaster who offers the most live streaming competition video will be the winner. No matter that NBC and other broadcasters have found compelling narrative storytelling techniques to frame the human interest angles of the Games, what people want is live. Next Games, they'll get their hands on it.
I found it rather silly that people were complaining to east coast American media Web sites about carrying results when NBC hadn't shown video. That's rather like complaining to the paper about writing about a show you had taped but hadn't seen. It's an always-on world now, and NBC and others had better find a way to channel that in an accommodating way --- or people will find alternatives to suit their needs.
What is also a lesson for the next Games is the intelligent way these Games began to embrace the social media revolution. It accredited some bloggers --- the next Games will have to do much more --- and gave a wider array of media access to content. The Games organizers used Twitter, Facebook and email to communicate, and I was impressed by the speed and commitment.
Next Games, I would hope many more news conferences will be streamed, much more interactive media will be available through official channels, and many more online sites will use the opportunity to connect athletes to their excited audiences through forums, video chats and the like.
I recognize the vast sums broadcasters pay for these rights can't simply be given away to others, but there is so much host broadcast-created video available, I can't believe there aren't remnant opportunities in there for the (free or near-free) taking.
The Internet added another chapter in the Vancouver Olympics. For the most part, it was for the better.