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Watch The London Olympics Online: A Guide To Web Video And Mobile Apps

If you love to watch the Olympics, this is your year: NBC is pumping out more than 5,500 hours of video for your TV and digital devices. We've covered that before — but how do you go about watching?

Here's a guide to how you can keep up with the Summer Games:

Sign-Ups Required. Like most things that are "free," you need to sign up before you can watch live video online. To do that, you should have an account with a TV provider that includes MSNBC and CNBC — and know your user ID and password for it. Visit the NBC Live Extra page to sign up.

NBC says the service should remember you, so you only have to do it once. We here at The Torch say you might want to register early, in case the system bogs down. But we're skeptics like that.

Apps For Mobile Access. For the mobile audience, NBC has two levels of tablet and mobile apps. There's the basic NBC Olympics app for the iPhone and for Android phones.

And then there's the Olympics Live Extra app, which, as the name implies, has live video and "full replays for all 302 events." It's free to anyone with the TV account mentioned above, and works with Android and Apple devices.

Other app options (apptions?) come from the official London 2012 group, which will provide live results to iPhone and iPad users. Their app is also available for Android and Windows phones.

Or, if you're over the whole app thing, there's always the NBC Olympics Mobile Site.

What's On? For a summary of the day's events and viewing options, you can visit NBC. We'll also give you a preview of events every day at The Torch. And we have a full schedule to help you find your favorite sports.

As noted above, you might want to register at NBC now, if you plan to. Because while the Opening Ceremonies are Friday, the first games start Wednesday, with women's soccer.

What You'll See And Hear. NBC's streaming video runs the gamut from unvarnished (and unhosted) feeds of competitions to fully produced coverage. So don't freak out if there's no sound. In fact, it might be a delightful break from chatty commentators.

Whoa. An estimated 4.8 billion people worldwide will watch this summer's Olympic Games. So don't be surprised if your feed gets disrupted. If all goes smoothly, it'll be a massive achievement.

The full-access approach is a new one for NBC. The network riled many in 2008, when it opted to save "premium" events for TV and relegate "second-tier" events to the web.

With a five- to eight-hour time difference between Britain and most of the United States, the London Games seem like an ideal case for live streaming video. If it's a hit, you can count on seeing many "lost worker productivity" stories coming out, about folks gawking at Olympic contests when they should be filing TPS reports.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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