The Basement Files: It’s the night owl Olympiad


Score one for us night-owls! February, normally one of the worst months of the year, is turning out to be one of the best … TV-wise anyway. Usually, there is this awful month-long lag-time between the end of football season and the start of the start of baseball and Formula-1 season, my personal favorite sports. I know there is still hockey and basketball, but … eh.

But this year, we got something different — we’ve got the Winter Olympiad, and since Sochi, Russia, is 10 hours ahead of us here in the Siberia-esque Midwest, all the live coverage of events is going to happen in the wee hours of the morning, which we here in the basement call “midday.”

Now, I’ve been hugely critical of the coverage of previous Olympic Games, mainly because they don’t show any of the good stuff. What you would get is hours upon hours of figure skating, and maybe, if you were lucky, five-minutes of luge, bobsled, and skeleton sled — combined. With the advent of the Internet however, things have gotten better.

Two years back NBC had a good, not great, web presence with the coverage. They covered everything, which they are promising again this year, so long as you tune in online (and you’ve got a cable or satellite subscription to log into) and have enough bandwidth to watch at a decent resolution. This is a great idea, with a website and companion phone/tablet app that has all the video, but it was executed poorly, and there were some things that really irritated me.

While there were bandwidth issues to begin with, they were resolved pretty quick. What was the biggest irritant, however, was the short amount of time things were available to stream. There were, at times, more than 24-hours of available footage to stream, but most were only available to stream for one day. I’m sure this was some sort of rights issue, and if so, fix it NBC! Not everyone is as lucky/poor/lazy as I am, and many don’t have a ton of free time to watch everything in such a short amount of time.

I hope it isn’t that way this year, but we shall see. I don’t have high hopes, but I reserve the right to be surprised. They have until exactly midnight on Feb. 10, Monday morning, because curling starts, and if they screw up a mere second of curling coverage, I’m going to be upset.

Regardless of the limits on broadcasting, as I said before, I’m a poor, lazy human being, so I have the time to watch pretty much everything, and I fully plan to. I’ve rearranged the basement into my summer “weather bunker MK.2” mode. This is pretty much the same thing as my summer setup when I watch radar, but this year I’ve got a “tablet-top” PC too, so I’m up to four screens of simultaneous viewing.

Here is the set up: I’ve got a 3-D TV with DVR for viewing what they broadcast over the air (and recording the rest … wish they were broadcasting in 3-D, but I guess I can’t have everything.) I’ve got the old-school laptop hardwired to the modem because I get much better speeds than through our Wi-Fi, and that will be streaming online content, and when there is nothing being broadcast over the air, I’ve got the laptop hooked up to the TV. The tablet-top will be connected via Wi-Fi, and that will be my primary source for oddball facts, medal counts and all-around stat tracking. The phone is the backup, in case the website goes down, but the app service still works, or in case we lose power and the only way to stream is through 4G-LTE. I’ll also use the phone to live-tweet in the middle of the night while I’m watching the games, if you care to follow (@chrishamble). Oh, and I’ll be pounding coffee, lots and lots of coffee.

So, I’ve got the setup, I’ve got something to watch, the only thing left to do is to put this column down and turn on the Olympics. Because you won’t get to watch curling again for another four years.

Chris Hamble is a freelance writer and humor columnist serving newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin and is a lifelong Stillwater resident.