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Posted at 02:49 PM ET, 07/27/2012

The 2012 Olympics: A challenge for cord cutters

If you’re a cord-cutter and an Olympics junkie, you may have found yourself in a tough spot.

For the uninitiated: Cord-cutters, instead of paying for cable, consume content through either free or pay services that, in the aggregate, may be cheaper than paying for cable or satellite service and better targeted to the consumer’s viewing preferences.

But wall-to-wall HD coverage of the Olympics is significantly more difficult to come by when you don’t get any channels – especially the ones in the NBC family, which has exclusive rights to broadcast Olympics coverage in the United States.

So, what’s a U.S. cord-cutter Olympics fan to do?

NBC is offering full Olympics coverage online but with a catch: visitors must authenticate that they are a cable, telco or satellite service subscriber with a package that includes MSNBC and CNBC. In some cases, this means having more than basic cable.

Fat lot of good that does cord-cutters.

There’s always Aereo. The application allows subscribers to watch live, broadcast television on multiple devices for $12/mo. Great, NBC live Olympics broadcasting online! Problem solved, right? Well, yes, if you live in these New York Zip codes, which is where the service is exclusively available.

If you are perfectly happy with a small-screen experience, there are apps for that. The BBC offers 24 simultaneous live feeds to your mobile device on Android and iOS ... as long as you don’t live in the U.S.

So, you’re back to NBC, which offers regular and premium mobile Adobe-powered app options. Not so fast cord-cutters, remember the authentication wall? It’s on the premium mobile app. That means no access to the estimated 3,500 hours of live programming the app is slated to provide. Highlights and scores are available on the regular app.

NBC has teamed up with YouTube to offer live video coverage, but the NBC Olympics YouTube channel currently serves as a, more or less, intricate re-direct back to NBC’s official Web site.

There is, of course, the solution of just going cold turkey and giving up on trying to watch the Olympics in all of its HD glory. As Jesse Johnson wrote to me via Twitter:

That’s probably not what NBC or the International Olympic Committee wants to hear – to say nothing of cable providers (one of which — Comcast — owns NBC) and networks that have been exploring the authentication model for some time.

Given this is billed as the “first social media Olympics,” here’s my cord-cutter plan: I’m going to be very social about consuming the coverage. Yes, I’ll get stats and scores on my phone and may occasionally watch the BBC live feed online and whatever NBC will give me live online. But my Olympics thirst will be quenched in the best and most social way possible: at watch-parties with friends and family.

How are you satisfying your cord-cutter Olympics fix? Let us know in the comments or tweet me at @emikolawole or @oninnovations.

Read more news and ideas on Innovations:

Full coverage: The XXX Olympic Games

Live blog | The Olympics

NBC’s Opening Ceremonies broadcast: Available exclusively on tape delay

By  |  02:49 PM ET, 07/27/2012

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