Why America can't watch the Games live for free, and why it's exciting that other countries can
International sporting agencies: so ubiquitously, hilariously corrupt that they get a character in the Harry Potter books. This year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has distinguished itself not necessarily with corruption, but with a Newspeak-friendly brand containment zone where only McDonald's can sell "french fries" (but fried potatoes are perfectly allowed.) But sometimes, it also does something really cool and true to its mission. The IOC's TV Rights and New Media Commission declares that:
The IOC takes all necessary steps in order to ensure the fullest coverage by the different media and the widest possible audience in the world for the Olympic Games.
And, this Olympics, they definitively did. The IOC is freely broadcasting the Olympics to sixty-four Asian and sub-Saharan African countries on Youtube. Ghanaians, or Indians, or Basotho (see the full list below) can tune in, without paying, to watch some 10 different live streams, which run from 9am to 11pm London time. They can also watch the 24-hour Olympic News channel.
There are a few caveats. All the broadcasts are in English. Internet availability throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa remains scarce. Check the graph below, and you'll see that in the parts of Africa and Asia where the 64 territories are, only around 20 percent of each nation's population uses the Internet: