It’s fair to say the flashy CTV Olympic studios and young hosts certainly helped bring a new energy to those 2010 Vancouver Olympics. As a nation we were so engulfed in the medal chase that we collectively ignored the overplayed "Believe" anthem, clearly hooked to the patriotic IV.

The broadcasting changes all sort of made sense. It was a passing of the torch, Mansbridge to Dutchyshun, it was nice to see our TSN favorites getting their shot at the Olympics, and so we ate it up like delicious gluten-free cupcakes MMmmm.

Now the queen is two years older, Canadian uniforms are a little bit lamer (admit it) and London’s gone and put on it’s best Sunday dress– it’s high tea at The Palace.

The question is, are eyes still showing up?

CTV didn’t help itself in 2010 when it made the unfortunate move of providing video coverage exclusively via Silverlight (a Microsoft software only 65% of computers support today and even less supported back then). As a Mac/Chrome man myself, it annoys me and certainly bruises my perception of the CTV digital brand. That I couldn’t watch the opening ceremonies or other coverage on my laptop as I’d planned is foreign to me. I suspect I’m not alone.

In March we learned that Canada brings home the gold when it comes to Internet usage, averaging 45 hours a month online per canuck – highest in the world. So why would CTV choose to neglect 35% of the largest online audience on the planet when it comes to Olympics coverage?

It’s understandable if Microsoft provided some sort of financial restitution for this choice, decisions around revenue and the Olympics have always existed. However, given the digital migration to streaming video, I can’t help but think CTV is closing its doors for the next two weeks on the exact audience those flashy studios and young hosts were meant to lure in – the young demographic.

If Mansbridge were in charge I’d be able to snag a video and audio podcast of every event, instead I’m stuck reading about the Olympics. My findings? Beach Volleyball - not as interesting in print.



by Geof Harries

I, of course, can’t say much of anything about Microsoft’s investments, but froma a technical perspective, Silverlight was and remains the best solution for smooth, stable video streaming.

There’s absolutely no way that HTML5 video, in its current state, could handle the massive weight and demand of people watching the Olympics online. Same with Flash. It’s one thing to stream a simple broadcast or show a recorded movie with Flash on YouTube or Vimeo; it’s something completely different to stream live content, in full HD, to millions upon millions of people at once. Neither HTML5 or Flash video are there, but Silverlight is.

In case you didn’t know, Silverlight is also used to stream NFL Sunday Night Football, showed the US presidential inauguration and is utilizied for many other major public events that are broadcast online. Silverlight is a mature, reliable technology, which is what you want for these kinds of circumstances.

You can’t make everybody happy, I guess.


by Eleanor

It’s all a little over my head to be honest. i have a hard time finding a TV, never mind cable… but i think i recall watching the Vancouver Openning Ceremony (alone in my room with snacks) on the computer… it was a little low quality, and i was stressing about finding it somewhere. Maybe it wasn’t on CTV.


by Neil Stephen

Thanks for the comments Geoff & Eleanor. It’s an interesting choice and Geoff I appreciate your solid tech explanation. CTV could have mitigated frustration with the software requirement by communicating its value through a simple infographic, blog post etc. As it stands now, CTV is essentially snubbing a very large and lucrative audience when in reality, it sounds like they may be providing a great service. The unintended consequences are pretty big no?


by Rona

Nothing intelligent to add here really but I, like Eleanor, have no televised access to the Games and remember enjoying the winter Olympics through streaming. I don’t get why CTV can’t do that again. I really wanted to see the queen parachuting into the stadium with James Bond. Neil – thumbs up on the infographic idea. Infographics are neat. Geof – stop using such big words. It hurts my head.


by Zeke Aasman

As much as I love to thumb my nose at Microsoft, I have to admit my experience with Silverlight hasn’t been too bad. I’ve been following the 2012 Pro Motocross series this summer, watching motos streamed live via Silverlight. It’s been all smiles for me.

Neil, your laptop should be more than capable of supporting Silverlight. Perhaps you should have a word with your IT department.


by margriet Aasman

I’ll leave you guys to sort this out… I recall staying up far to late, addicted to watching previous Olympics… something I can’t really afford now. I need to get out into this all too short Yukon summer. I’ll enjoy the many, many images that adorn the magazines at the cashier in the grocery store.


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