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YouTube to live stream HD Olympic video in Asia, Africa

The 2012 London Olympics will soon be upon us, with the capital inching day by day towards the global spotlight.

But while many around the world will need access to broadcast television to watch the games, Google has announced that viewers in parts of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa will be able to watch HD streams of the events live on YouTube.

Hardcore fans of the Olympics are probably already aware that highlights of the games will be available on the official YouTube page maintained by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). But the new streaming option will be welcome news for fans in areas with spotty television signals and infrequent access to high-definition broadcasts.

The stream will include over 2,200 hours of live Olympic video broadcasts to 64 territories in the Asia and regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, including Singapore, Nigeria, India, Kenya, Malaysia, and Uganda. In addition to the 10 live HD streams, the IOC YouTube channel will also feature a 24-hour Olympic News Channel, offering general updates, event reports, and results.

Although the streaming option is indeed a nod toward the increasing importance of Internet video versus old school television broadcasts, traditional networks aren't planning on being left behind. American channel NBC, the official U.S. 2012 Olympics broadcaster, announced just last month that it plans to stream the games via its website, offering roughly 3,500 hours of programming, as well as on its associated networks and via mobile and tablet apps. However, the major caveat is that if you want to watch the games live on the network's Olympics site, you'll need to be able to prove that you're a cable television subscriber.

The issues surrounding the rights to broadcast the Olympics, as well as how to broadcast the games in this new age of cord cutting viewers, has turned out to be about as complicated and full of obscure details as a nation securing the winning bid to host the actual games themselves. So while our cousins in the U.S. will need to jump through a few hoops to get their games live on the Internet, viewers in Asia and Africa will get a taste of the future - seamless, live multi-national event streaming on YouTube.