Until this year one could watch every world cup ski race online for free. The website that posted was owned by NBC, official Olympic broadcaster. Just like ESPN allows you to stream live events or watch later whenever you want (which is how I watch college football since I work on Saturdays).
Another reason this is important is because the channel that broadcasts skiing is, for some unknown reason, not carried on cable or satellite. That's right, not Comcast, not Time Warner, not Cablevision, & in my case, not Directv. It's only available as one of those odd digital subchannels. You know, like here in the Bay Area, NBC is ch. 11, & the aformentioned sports channel is 11.2 or something like that. Never mind that almost nobody watches over the air, 70% or more watch via cable. Especially here where the geography forces you to have cable or a dish to get decent reception (lots of hills & valleys that block signals).
So if you purposely limit your audience, wouldn't it behoove you to give people a reason to watch online? Go ahead show commercials, CBS does. Then again, CBS has every show online within a couple of days of broadcast. I watched Monday's Hawaii 5-0 on Friday. No issue at all. I can watch any event ESPN shows online at any time. No registering, no paying.
Now let's review the payment setup. $4 to watch a single event like today. $9 to watch the World Championships in February or $30 for all 71 events over the season. Who's going to watch that? That means all men & women's events, downhill,slalom,super g,combined (multiple runs in some events). Who has time for that?
You know what this is about. Next Olympics charge even more for online coverage, & since Comcast will own NBC by then, maybe an extra charge to watch the cable coverage. What's to stop them?