Sports Fans Slip Past NBC's Iron Grip

Savvy Internet surfers turn to overseas servers

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 31, 2012 3:35 AM CDT | Updated Jul 31, 2012 4:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – Olympics fans are mad and they're not going to put up with NBC's iron control any longer. The answer? The Internet, of course. Techies are linking to European servers to get their sports from across the pond, reports Reuters. Take Californian Jason Legate, who has been watching the Olympics live on the BBC via a London-based server. NBC paid $1.18 billion for the US rights to broadcast the Olympics on TV and stream the Games online. But television coverage is delayed six hours, and NBC has made it impossible for those without a cable or satellite subscription to get live streaming of the Olympics. Even those with access complain that NBC streaming is spotty, and that the network bombards watchers with ads. (For all the rants see #NBCfail.)

In order to get access to foreign servers, however, techies need to know enough to fool the servers into treating their computers as if they're located overseas. VPN services such as TunnelBear and StreamVia send a user's Internet connection to different countries to gain access to foreign servers. "Because all of my Internet traffic looks like it's coming from a box in England, the BBC thinks I'm located in England," Legate said of the workaround he uses. But leaping NBC isn't so easy for the tech-challenged. "You've got to geek out"—and you still have to pay some fees to the VPN services, warns a City University of New York journalism professor.

With some Internet rerouting, some US sport fans are watching the Olympics via overseas operations.   (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)
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