Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 10:26 am.

This time, NBC will live-stream the entire Olympics

A nice (and smart) change from prior years, when many key events weren’t streamed live, as NBC was “saving” them to air later on TV. There will be one hitch, though, to make the primetime broadcast more special, the NYT’s Richard Sandomir reports:

An important event like a gold-medal race involving Michael Phelps will be streamed live on, but will not be archived on the Web site until sometime after the prime-time show. Other staples of NBC’s prime-time coverage — including swimming, diving, gymnastics, track and field, and beach volleyball — will be treated the same way.

So, thinking back to four years ago, if there is an insane Usain Bolt sprinting race happening, it will be streamed live by NBC this time, so we won’t have to dig up pirate livestreams. But if it’s supposed to also air later on the primetime TV broadcast, you won’t be able to officially re-watch it, share it, or embed it in a blog post until later on. I guess we’ll still be trolling YouTube for those clips.

Why the additional live streaming? It’s not just because everyone called NBC a bunch of dinosaurs over the years and made them feel bad. It’s because it can actually help TV ratings, apparently.

He said that NBC had data to show that live streaming could increase viewership of a event shown hours later on delay. “We’re not scared of cannibalization,” Mr. Cordella said, adding, “Anytime you have a great event that happens before it shows on the air, it increases ratings and generates buzz.”

No word in the NYT story on whether NBC will shove Silverlight down everyone’s throats again for its video this Olympics, or whether it’s using something else. But I’ll say this now: If there isn’t an awesome iPad app to watch the games live, NBC is blowing it.

Update: Via NBC’s Olympics site, it appears you’ll actually need to login via cable or satellite credentials to watch the “Live Extra” streams. Of course NBC’s new owner Comcast was going to insist on something like this. There will also be “tablet” and mobile apps, and browser-based video will apparently require Flash. All the major cable, satellite, and telco TV providers seem to be on board.