We're three days away from the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games. I'm writing this from the airport, waiting for my British Airways flight to London Heathrow. My flight is delayed, so this seems like a perfect time to tell you how to get ready to watch all of the exciting upcoming equestrian eventing, dressage, and jumping competition.
In the U.S., as with past Olympic Games, NBC holds exclusive television broadcast rights. Make that NBC Universal, the multi-channel behemoth that also includes MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, and Spanish-language Telemundo.
Fans of horse sport have come to resign themselves to seeing little, if any, equestrian Olympic coverage in the usual prime-time network broadcasts. But if you are a pay-TV subscriber with access to an Internet-enabled computer or mobile device, I have exciting news for you.
All Olympic Competition to Be Streamed Live for the First Time!
Realizing that they needed to adapt their traditional coverage strategy to suit the demands of today's always-connected consumer, the brass at NBC and Comcast decided that, for the first time at these Olympics, they would offer live-streaming of every Olympic sport. That's right: every dressage test, every lap in the pool, every javelin thrown -- finally! Hallelujah!
To access the live stream, you must be (or befriend) a current pay-TV subscriber (cable, satellite, or "telco") in good standing whose channel lineup includes MSNBC and CNBC.
Before the Games begin (why not right now?), go to NBCOlympics.com, NBC's dedicated Olympic Games website. Click on the "Live Extra" link (the red "Click Here and Get Ready" button on the screenshot below). You'll be asked to create a free account by selecting your pay-TV provider and then entering your account information. According to published reports, Xfinity (Comcast) subscribers whose packages include both Xfinity TV and Internet won't have to enter their account information; supposedly the system will recognize them at the outset.
For tablets and smartphones: Download the NBC Olympics Live Extra app for your tablet or smartphone. If you're a pay-TV subscriber as described above, you'll be able to live-stream all 32 Olympic sports just as you can on your desktop or laptop computer.
In the mean time (I have journalist and colleague Chris Stafford to thank for the pun on Greenwich Mean Time, the Prime Meridian of which runs smack-dab through Greenwich Park), as you plan your viewing, keep in mind that London and GMT are five hours ahead of the Eastern time zone. That means an afternoon showing of Friday's opening ceremony for U.S. viewers, and a few mighty early mornings for diehard horse-sports fans, especially those poor souls on the West Coast and in Alaska and Hawaii.
View the complete Olympic competition schedule on NBCOlympics.com's Results and Schedules page. You can choose between viewing the event schedules in your local time zone or in London time. Hover over any day that your desired competition is being held. If "Click for schedule details" appears, click and a pop-up menu will appear, listing the name(s) and time(s) of that day's competition. If a number appears in the box for a calendar day, it indicates the number of medals to be awarded that day.
Here's a brief rundown of the equestrian competition. Times given are London local time. Schedule source: FEI.
July 27: First horse inspection, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
July 28: Team and individual dressage, 10:00 a.m.-4:45 p.m.
July 29: Team and individual dressage, 10:00 a.m.-4:45 p.m.
July 30: Cross-country, 12:30 p.m.-5:40 p.m.
July 31: Second horse inspection, 8:15 a.m.-9:30 a.m.
Team final jumping: 10:30 a.m.-1:10 p.m.
Individual final jumping: 2:30 p.m.-3:35 p.m.
July 31: Horse inspection, 5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
August 2: Grand Prix, 11:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
August 3: Grand Prix, 11:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
August 7: Grand Prix Special (team medal final), 10:00 a.m.-4:25 p.m.
August 9: Grand Prix Freestyle (individual medal final): 12:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
August 2: First horse inspection, 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
August 4: First qualifier, 10:30 a.m.-2:05 p.m.
August 5: Second individual qualifier/team competition round 1, 11:00 a.m.-2:15 p.m.
August 6: Third individual qualifier/team medal final, 2:00 p.m.-4:45 p.m.
August 8: Second horse inspection, 9:30 a.m.-10:15 a.m.
Individual round A, 12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
Individual round B/individual medal final, 2:45 p.m.-4:05 p.m.