Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Scraping to Watch the Olympics

How do you watch the Olympics when you don’t have a TV or cable subscription? Painfully, that’s how. Aside from the occasional fortuitous timing of catching it in a hotel lobby or an appliance store, you’re out of luck. We tried a VPN connection that allowed us to connect with an international carrier, thereby bypassing domestic NBC blocking, but that didn’t work out so well. With the VPN connection we were able to stream onto Canadian (CBC) and even British (BBC) networks, and could have utilized any country in the world, but the connections were terrible.

This past weekend we watched a bit on TV during a break in N’s hockey tournament, but that was short-lived, and the kids got bored pretty quickly. Finally a friend of ours who is a techie told us about a way to connect through the internet and basically watch international TV, i.e., watch normal broadcast TV from another country. In this case, it’s Canada.

It was a little involved in terms of tweaking our network settings, which I am not totally comfortable with, but decided to give it a try. Lo and behold, it worked, and we have been able to watch the Olympics. The other night we watched ice dancing, and yesterday we watched women’s hockey and bobsledding. Then last night the kids watched acrobatic ski jumping, which I know speaks to N’s heart. It’s cool to watch the Olympics, but truth be told, I am somewhat ambivalent about them, and always have been. When I was a kid, I didn’t pay much attention to the Olympics, especially the Winter Olympics, save a for a few events. I wasn’t even that interested in hockey back then.

Now I find the spectacle more entertaining, and think it’s nice for the kids to see. On the whole, I could take it or leave it, which works out well when you don’t have TV.

Anyway, the kids are interested in certain events, and it is rather entertaining watching Canadian TV. The commercials are different, and the coverage is more objective, not all flash and rock-and-roll like American coverage. There are times the CBC covers banal and mundane activities, like crews preparing the field for competition, or the audience sitting in the stands. This is in marked contrast with the American approach, which would never show that stuff and would fill every available moment with something entertaining. Anything to boost ratings. I’m guessing CBC is like the BBC, state run and not as profit-oriented, so they can afford to do what they want. I could be wrong.

For now, we can follow the games, and we’ll probably watch more hockey and skiing, which we enjoy. We may even catch the closing ceremony, which we haven’t seen in the past two or three Olympics. It could be interesting.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to MakeMy UK for the pic.

No comments: