07 August 2016

Rio 2016 Olympic Coverage from Japan -- Exceeding Expectations Early!

Belgian victory in the road race.

As a foreigner living in Japan during the past two past Olympics, I can remember the frustration of TV coverage that focused almost exclusively on certain heavily promoted national Japanese heroes, ignoring the other 95% of the games.  I remember mindless feel-good commentary (even in the face of contrary results), inconvenient scheduling, and lots of downtime.  It was not a happy time.

This year, NHK Sports seems to have decided to STREAM ONLINE FOR FREE (with recordings available afterwards in case you were sleeping or working), a huge number of events, without commentary!  I will not promise that everything is online or how long the recordings are available, but an awful lot is.

I am not sure if the most popular events in Japan are realtime (say, the Men's 400meter individual medley swimming final, with 2 Japanese medal hopefuls, who placed 1st and 3rd, though still more than 2.2 seconds off Michael Phelps' world record) ... but it was possible to watch the entire first night Rio swimming schedule streamed on Sunday, a few hours later (given the time difference), and to fast-forward through all the waiting and introductions.  Better yet, you can actually hear the announcer in the arena speaking English, and listen to the competitors congratulate each other and the relay teams celebrate at the end of the race!
Hagino captures the 400IM.
The entire men's cycling road race was streamed live ... and can still be seen today, all 7 hours and 30 minutes of video.  I watched some late Saturday night, then on Sunday morning watched the last 15 kms, including the crucial developments as V. Nibali and another rider crashed out on the last twisting descent.  Okay, the motorbike drivers are not quite as gifted as on the Tour, and they could not keep up with Nibali's 3-man group on the descent, so all we actually witnessed were two riders down on the asphalt by the time the camera came around the bend.  But there were plenty of other crashes caught on camera, and the overall quality was a heck of a lot better than the (free) streaming access to the Tour here in Japan.  And you can go back today and watch it again.
Only one of the 3 seems to have any legs left in the last 100 meters.

Olympics via NHK streaming update (August 18):

The Rio games continue to be a pleasure in terms of access to streaming content.  Yesterday I got an email reminder that one of my "kohai" from Yale, Katie Grace, would be running in the preliminary of the women's 800 meter track & field event, with a link to this NY Times story, more focused on her mom, a fitness/aerobics queen from a different era, before Title IX.

This morning I could wake up and watch a streamed recording of the race as she qualified for the semi-finals.

Yesterday, however, I had an unpleasant surprise.

The "NHK man" rang my doorbell, looking to collect my NHK fee.  (Perhaps compliance is down recently ... as the broadcaster is ignored by most Japanese under the age of 60, and its "three basic tenets" of current operations are said to be "avoidance of controversy, pandering to audiences, and parochial nationalism.")  I had to tell the bill collector "sorry, I do not have a TV".  (This is actually true -- I "cut the cord" recently and have no TV, relying entirely on the Internet and mobile data/telephony).  He asked "but are you watching 'One Seg' wireless or via your PC"?  I just said "NO" and "sumimasen" and closed the door.

After he left, I felt kinda sorry for him.  'One Seg' is a Japan-only format to get TV broadcasts on mobile phones in Japan.  Not supported by the iphone (without an add-on tuner/receiver).  Toast. History. Goes in the museum alongside "i-mode" data transmission.

But that was a little white lie about not watching on my PC. I wondered, do you think he somehow figured out from my IP address that I have been on their website? Are we in that much of a survelliance society? If so, does he know all my browsing habits?  And are they really trying to charge via the NHK law for viewing a website?  In this case, all I have been doing is access a website which, in its FAQ page, indicates that there is "no charge" for the service:

These guys must be desperate, grasping at straws.

1 comment:

David Litt said...

... the post about has been updated ... August 18.