In Broadcast - February 2014 - 66
I N T E R N A T I O N A L
WWW.INBROADCAST.COM | ISSUE 28 - FEBRUARY 2014
N E W S
2014 Sochi Olympics TV Everywhere
While the BBC's TV coverage from the 2014 Winter Olympics is a well worn affair limited by lower
budget and low expected viewing figures, the real innovation is happening online...
By Adrian Pennington
he BBC's sports department will
produce more than 200 hours of
TV with coverage ﬁelded by Hazel
Irvine, Clare Balding and Jonathan
Edwards. It will cover every single
event, making them available on six
live streams via tablet, PC, mobile
and connected TV.
The BBC's outside broadcast
workﬂow for Sochi uses the template
established for the Vancouver
games last time out.
It's a split operation between
a mountain broadcast centre
catering for events like ski jump and
downhill skiing and the IBC at the
Presteigne Charter were
contracted to deliver the technical ﬁt
out for both centres which include a
handful of edit suites and are linked
by shared DVS Venice storage,
shared vision lines and circuits.
Presentation is being largely
performed on-site with transmission
galleries and the majority of post
located in Salford. This model keeps
overseas crew down to a minimum
(95) and makes best use of the
corporation's existing facilities.
"We will run eight circuits between
Sochi and London and do all live
streaming and all post, recording
and turnaround in Salford," explains
Richard Morgan, BBC Sport Chief
Engineer on the project. "Those
feeds are split between live sports
(via host broadcaster OBS) and
presentation. Cuts between the two
will happen in Salford.
"Since most of the workﬂow is live
or very near live sending back an
EDL or low-res proxy doesn't work.
We want to be as close to live as
we can. Because we are streaming
it doesn't make sense to send back
two separate feeds."
OBS itself will innovate coverage
with a substantial wirecam across
the Olympic Park and make use
of mini-cams on drones hovering
over the slopes for some unique
The BBC's cameras are a
conventional mix of Sony PMW 500
and PDW 700s, some of which will
be on RF. It won't be using videoover-IP devices StageBox which
relies on a decent GigE connection.
"It doesn't suit our workﬂow in this
case. It's an essentially baseband
For Morgan, the biggest challenges
are the logistics of the Olympic
site given the heightened security
concerns in the region; the limited
number of local English-speaking
Russians and delivering the editorial
ambition of the coverage given the
limit on resources in Sochi.
The real innovation is happening in
digital where the BBC is using Sochi
The live desktop page for BBC Sport's games
BBC Sport's Sochi Olympics digital multiscreen platform
as a trial run for a new live streaming
platform. The web product has
been designed to deliver a richer
experience around live events to
users viewing on mobile devices.
According to Neil Hall, Executive
Product Manager, BBC Sport:
"Content updates will appear almost
a minute quicker than previously
and we're working to optimise that
speed further. This product will
update automatically across mobile,
tablet, and desktop device whereas
in the past that was not the case.
"The second benefit is about
control. We're making it really
simple to access the six live streams
from Sochi from a single url. The
third is consistency of experience
across devices. We know many
of our audience will come to view
the Winter Olympics by checking
progress on mobiles on their way to
work, at lunchtime on the desktop
and at home on their tablet, so it's
really important that it is easy for
them to pick up content," Hall says.
"We've built new capability so
that this product will allow a
consistent user experience across
four companion screens, but we've
also built it in an event-agnostic way
to work for sports in 2014 so it can
be easily rolled out to any other live
news or cultural events," says Hall.
"It's build once, use many times and
so it's generic, ﬂexible and scalable
to trafﬁc requirements."
Whereas the BBC's London 2012
online coverage was centred on a
video player, this revised product
makes greater use of curated text
commentary and data. The service
will also be connected to Facebook,
Twitter, and Instagram. Further
social, personal, and interactive
elements are planned.
"We've reunited the video
experience with the live text
element," explains Hall. The text
is a minute-by-minute text update
Mobile platform for BBC Sport's
from the BBC's editorial team which
incorporates tweets, emails, and
other viewer comments.
Massive Interactive were
employed to help with the design
but the project was built in house.
"Delivering video at scale across
multiple devices was a challenge
but we have great experience in
that area and are conﬁdent we can
deliver," says Hall.
"We learned a lot from London
2012 and on events like Wimbledon
and Glastonbury last year. We
wanted a platform style approach
so it would need to interface with
a range of internal BBC systems,
such as with news. Given all of that,
it made sense for it to be done in
house but we will open it up for
a range of suppliers to work with
us on future events, such as the