Alternative ways to watch the Olympics online

Alternative ways to watch the Olympics online »Play Video
In the United States, NBC has the sole broadcast TV and Internet streaming rights to the 2012 London Olympics. The network has touted its live coverage of every medal event, but it appears the Opening Ceremonies didn't make the cut when it comes to live streaming coverage. It's already become a complaint on some websites that NBC is too restrictive when it comes its online coverage compared to broadcasters from other countries.

Because of the eight hour time difference between London and the West Coast, many Olympic fans will be at their work computers when many of the live events take place. But there is an alternative to watching live Olympic coverage that's not coming from NBC.

Of course, there will be plenty of people in their bedrooms around the world trying to re-stream events from their local Olympic channel on websites like Justin.tv, but those streams get taken down usually minutes after they start because of copyright violations. So don't count on these streams as reliable alternatives.

In order to watch live Olympic events online or wirelessly on a smart phone or tablet, you need to be a cable or satellite TV subscriber. When you log on for the first time to nbcolympics.com, NBC's official Olympic website or launch NBC's Olympics Live Extra App, you will be asked the username and password you use to log into your cable or satellite TV account. This is how NBC verifies you are indeed a cable or satellite TV subscriber.

If you not a subscriber, you won't be able to view any of NBC's live Olympic coverage online. The US is one of the few countries that require this type of authentication to watch live streaming video of the Olympic games. It's all part of the deal NBC cut with the Olympic organizers.

But many countries like Great Britain and Canada do not require a pay TV subscription to access live Olympic video online. But if you try to access the BBC's Olympic website or CTV's Olympic website to watch their live coverage of the games, and did so from a US based computer, you'll get nothing but an error message in the video player.

That's because Olympic broadcasters are limited to streaming live video to viewers in their own countries.

But there is a way to avoid the restrictions of watching live Olympic coverage originating from other countries like the UK and Canada.

It's known as proxy servers, and here's how they work.

Every computer that gets onto the internet is assigned an Internet Protocol or IP address. Think if it as your address on the world wide web. A proxy server lets you disguise your internet address and pretend that your computer is in another country, let's say the UK. By using a proxy server, the BBC's website will think you're in Great Britain and serve up as much live Olympic video as you want.

"The use of proxy servers is a pretty standard thing that happens across the internet," said Jason Atlas, VP of Engineering at Tacoma based Internet Identity, a internet security firm. "The risk of doing that is much like the risk of doing almost any activity on the internet."

Computer geeks know how to use proxy servers for free, but for the average user there are many legitimate companies that will set up you up with a secure connection to proxy servers in other countries and do so for a small fee.

For our test, we use virtual private network software from a well known proxy website called HideMyAss.com. Despite the name, it's one of the more popular proxy server websites on the internet. Another well known proxy website is Proxify.net.

We paid $11 for a month-long subscription to a long list of secured proxy servers scattered in different countries. The company provides open source software with the proxy server address already preload. Once the software is installed, the user launches a virtual private connection or VPN's into the remote computer in the country of your choice.

From that point on, all of your internet traffic will pass through the remote proxy server and every website you visit will think you computer is located in that country.

In our test, we picked a proxy server in London, went back to the BBC's Olympic website and watch live Olympic video from the BCC without any problem.

We then selected a server in Toronto Canada were able to watch live Olympic video from CTV, Canada's Olympic network without any issues.

"It's not illegal to use a proxy server to access the web" says Atlas

So let the Olympic viewing begin.