If you live in the USA (like us) and love the Olympics (also like us), by now you’ve probably heard — NBC (GE), which has exclusive broadcasting rights to the Olympics within the US, is keeping its best coverage off the Internet. The company is doing so in the misguided belief that an embargo on the best online video will send people to their TVs, where NBC can command higher ad rates.
The easiest way to get around this, if you can’t find what you want to watch on nbcolympics.com, is to find someone who’s already figured out how to hijack a TV signal and stream the games on the Web. Check here and here for links we’ve found recently. The downside to depending on someone else’s work — you’ve got no idea what you’re getting, and you’re vulnerable to take downs (many of the links we’ve found have already been shut down).
A second option: Watch the live streaming coverage coming out of other nations’ official Webcasts, like the BBC in the UK or the CBC in Canada. Or like YouTube’s country-specific coverage for surfers in 77 countries like South Korea or India. Why would you want to do that? Because other countries frequently have broadcasters with more enlightened Webcasting policies. This morning, for instance, we’ve already seen the Olympic opening ceremonies Webcast live on cbc.ca for Canadians, while Americans had to wait.
In order to do this, you’re going to have fool the other Webcasters into thinking you’re watching from their country of origin — like NBC in the U.S., they won’t stream to international surfers. And in order to do that, you’re going to need to use a proxy server. Be warned — it won’t be easy. But if you’re a hardcore Olympics fan, it may be worth it.
So what is a proxy server?
A proxy server is a computer that sits between you and the rest of the Internet, relaying traffic back-and-forth. If you’re hooked into a proxy server and surf to alleyinsider.com, your computer sends a request to the proxy to get the data from SAI, and then the proxy sends the data back to you.
Why do people use proxy servers?
Lots of reasons. The most common is for extra privacy and security while Web surfing. If you’re worried about Web sites leaving tracking cookies on your home computer or logging your IP address to keep tabs on you, use of an anonymous proxy server will give an extra — but by no means foolproof — level of privacy protection. Two of our favourite free web-based proxy servers to surf anonymously are Proxify.org and HideMyAss.com.
Here’s how to test it’s working: we went to UniqueInternetServices.com, which (correctly) used IP tracing to say we’re in New York, NY. Then we tried it again, but used proxify.org to cover our tracks. Voilà! Now it appears to any computer who asks that we’re in Houston, Tex.
Trying to watch the BBC’s Olympics coverage from America follows the same basic prinicple. Except when we’re after privacy, all we need is a web trace to point somewhere, anywhere, other than our real location. To watch British coverage of Beijing 2008, we need that Web trace to say we’re in the United Kingdom. Which gets much, trickier.
Can I just watch British Olympics coverage already? Where can I find a British proxy?
If you have a British hacker friend who can set up a dedicated connection for you, call her first.
Otherwise you’ll need to use an “open proxy server,” which is a computer someone set up to allow all comers to relay Internet traffic. Search Google for “uk open proxy” (or whatever your target country is) to get the two pieces you’ll need: an IP address (looks like 126.96.36.1999) and a port (a two to four digit number). Web site Xroxy has good lists of open proxy servers, broken down by country. Every major browser supports proxies, the setup is usually buried somewhere like “Preferences – Network – Proxy Server – Manual,” where you’ll be prompted for the IP and port information. A good walkthrough of how to enter proxy information for every major browser can be found here. Once the information is entered, if Web surfing seems to be working, verify your new country of origin back at UniqueInternetServices.com.
Never enter a password to any website or enter credit card information online while using a proxy server. Doing so puts you at high risk for identity theft. That’s because with an open proxy server you’re trusting a strange computer to relay information back and forth between you and Olympics coverage. If you use your credit card, there’s no protection from the proxy server’s owner simply recording the account number. Go back into your network settings and turn off the proxy as soon as you’re done watching video.
Be aware you generally get what you pay for, and being free, open proxy servers are highly unreliable. Usually it takes us three or four tries before we get one that works. It might not work at all, it might work very slowly, and one time we tried using a Canadian open proxy that idenitified our computer as residing in Syria. Expect a lot of trial and error, and be patient.
Have advice on using proxy servers we missed, or other Olympic watching advice? Let us know in the comments.
How To Watch The Beijing Olympics LIVE On The Web — Even If NBC Doesn’t Want You To
NBC’s Online Olympics Policy: Big Win For Pirate P2P Sites
How To Watch Beijing Olympics LIVE Today: Opening Ceremony, Beach Volleyball, Basketball, Weight Lifting
YouTube At The Olympics: Exclusive Video You Can’t Watch
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