Posted: 17 February 2010, 21:18
Updated: 3 April 2010, 23:40

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How To Watch The 2010 Winter Olympics Online

The Olympics are one of a only few events that cause me to rethink my 2006 decision to forego cable and satellite television. Most of the time I can either stream shows (e.g. Hulu or Netflix Watch Instantly) or purchase a single episode or season through iTunes or Amazon Video on Demand. A dedicated Mac Mini connected to my TV makes all of these online choices easy to use.

The trouble started when I wanted to watch a live Olympic event. Since subscribing to and installing Comcast XFINITY for two weeks would have been difficult, my only remaining choice was to find a live streaming source.

During the 2008 Summer Olympics NBC streamed some events live through their website (albeit with the full screen option disabled). Unfortunately, this year NBC decided to require that the end user be "a subscriber to a participating Olympics distributor" (see NBC). In other words, if you don't already pay for digital cable (basic cable is not sufficient) or satellite, then you can only access "video clips such as athlete features and Torino highlights, and [...] event highlights during the Vancouver Games". Wait what!? Torino? Wasn't that four years ago? Thanks but no thanks NBC.


NBC website blocking user access

CTV (Canada Television) also streams the events, but if you attempt to watch the video from a computer that is not physically located in Canada then you will find the video blocked. So, CTV limits its viewers to computers with Canadian IP addresses. Ahh! This technical limitation is something I can work around (without moving to Canada). I was able to go from zero access to Live Curling in about twenty minutes.

To make my computer look like it is in Canada I needed to route my internet traffic through a different computer that is physically in Canada. In this case, the easiest way to accomplish this was to use a Virtual Private Server (VPS). A quick Google search led me to VPSVille. Their 'Village' plan offers zero setup fee, 100 GB network traffic per month and a dedicated IP address in Toronto for $10 (CAD) a month.

I was able to access a new server instance within ten minutes of the initial purchase. To create the tunnel I used SSH which will forward any HTTP requests sent to it. If you use a Mac, run Linux or already have SSH installed (e.g. Cygwin) you are almost done. Just the following command in a terminal (replace the IP address with your new VPS's address).

ssh -D 3333 root@66.199.140.123
The 'dash D' options tells SSH to create a SOCKS 5 proxy listening on a local port.

If you are using Windows and do not have an SSH client installed you can install PuTTY, a free, easy to use SSH client.


Enter your VPS IP address


Set the source port to 3333, select 'Dynamic' and click on 'Add'


click on 'Open' and then enter your root password

Once your SSH tunnel is open you can minimize that window. All that is left is to configure the web browser to use the SSH tunnel.

Each browser is different, but all have a configurationg screen that will allow you to add a 'SOCKS 5' proxy. The IP address should be '127.0.0.1' and port 3333.


Firefox proxy configuration


Internet Explorer proxy configuration


Internet Explorer proxy configuration

Now that the browser is ready to go, test everything by going to www.hostip.info to verify that the IP address that the web server sees is your new one in Canada.


VPSVille IP address in Toronto

If everything is working then go to ctvolympics.ca. If all is happy, then you should see:


2010 Winter Olympics Live streaming through a machine in Toronto

By Jonathan Last updated: 3 April 2010, 23:40

© irondojo · 2010 · Jonathan Camp