In Broadcast - March 2014 - 22
I N T E R N A T I O N A L
WWW.INBROADCAST.COM | ISSUE 29 - MARCH 2014
N E W S
Streaming Sochi Games Not About The Money
With the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi all eyes were
on screen with streaming media playing a key role in
the coverage of the events...
By Michael Grotticelli
equipment manufacturers have
endeavoured to sell broadcasters
on the idea that streaming video
content to the web and mobile
devices could provide a new source
of revenue, but many have been
hesitant over concerns that online
content takes eyeballs away from
the main linear TV broadcast.
NBC Olympics executives, who
have had extensive experience with
new media related to its multiple
years of summer and winter
games coverage, see streaming a
Jim Bell, an executive producer
with NBC Olympics (a division of
the NBC Sports Group, responsible
for producing, programming and
Olympic coverage from its new
facility in Stamford, Connecticut),
has said that this year's Winter
Games in Sochi, Russia represent
a chance for the network to crosspromote its new shows and expand
the reach of NBC's Olympics
coverage beyond primetime.
To that end, the network promised
to stream every event (or roughly
1,000 hours of coverage), and
make it available across its many
distribution platforms (OTA, cable,
satellite, online and mobile).
As part of its "hits factory," NBC
offered only short VOD clips of the
2010 Vancouver Winter Games,
which were viewed primarily on
desktop screens (via a subscription
pay-TV service). Indeed, the Apple
iPad came out in March of 2010, a
month after the Vancouver Olympics,
so the Sochi Games represented
the ﬁrst time content was produced
and distributed specifically for
Speaking prior to the opening of
the Sochi Games, Bell said NBC's
experience with the Summer Games
in London revealed how important, if
not as a moneymaker, the Olympics
is to NBC's bottom line. He said he
was not concerned that streaming
video would upstage the main
broadcast. He added that they
found people who watched live
video streams during the day were
also more than likely to watch the
main broadcast on their living room
televisions during primetime hours.
Bell said offering viewers more
content results in more hours of
programming watched. Personally
engaging audiences with cell phone
apps, a website, social media and
other distribution (On-Demand)
platforms is looked at as an allencompassing campaign to ﬁnd
and engage the viewer, wherever
they might be. From NBC Olympics'
standpoint, you have to have all
these bases covered, and they
do seem to help each other. The
coverage was available via two apps.
"We took a big chance," Bell said.
"But as it turned out, not only did it
not hurt our primetime rating, but
by streaming all that content and
putting more hours live on the cable
networks, those people came to
watch in bigger numbers and for
longer hours in primetime than
With the nine-hour time difference
between Sochi and New York, TV
ratings could suffer (unlike the
Vancouver Winter Games which was
mostly shown live) but the network
said that the Games are not just
"There are plenty of things this
Olympics will be about besides
a number," Bell said, adding that
sporting events at the Olympics like
Figure Skating will subsequently be
a great promotion tool for NBC's 24hour Sports Network's coverage of
Figure Skating going forward after
the Games. Bell said it provides a
"unique opportunity to build an asset
with a sports audience".
The hope among NBC executives
is that engaging online audiences
during the Games will strengthen
the NBC Sports brand for the future.
And, if it makes some money along
the way - NBC expects to earn one
billion in ad dollars from the Sochi
games - so much the better.
$775 million for the exclusive rights
to broadcast the Games in the U.S.
More than 217 million Americans
watched the London Games across
all of the NBC Universal networks,
which was the most-watched
event in U.S. television history to
NBC's Sochi 2014 ident
"Our charge here is to take chances and take advantage of the technology
wherever and whenever we can to enhance the viewers' experience,"
said Jim Bell, an Executive Producer with NBC Olympics.
That included the use of an Avid Interplay MAM system, which will
maximise operational efﬁciencies and streamline collaboration across
multiple production locations worldwide.
The NBC Olympics International Broadcast Center (IBC) in Sochi was
also outﬁtted with Avid Media Composer and Symphony editing systems
connected to an Avid ISIS 7000 with 384TB of shared storage system.
The venues are each equipped with a 64TB ISIS 5000, AirSpeed 5000,
and Interplay Production systems with connectivity back to the IBC.
The IBC also feature a Pesa Cheetah 864XR coax and ﬁbre HD video
routing switcher, which served as an integral part of the system that
provided live and pre-recorded video feeds for local distribution, as well
as satellite feeds to the U.S. for re-broadcast.
Designed for multi-format routing needs and supporting signals up to
1080p/60, the router was populated with 800x800 BNC and 64x64 ﬁbre
I/O in a 41 RU frame.
ChyronHego provided 12 Lyric PRO-powered Mosaic XL on-air graphics
systems to NBC Olympics. The Lyric PRO system offers support for
Windows 7 64-bit playout, native support for stereoscopic 3D, scriptless
transitions, and touch-screen-enabled graphics.
Ericsson and Harmonic each supplied video contribution and distribution
systems to NBC Olympics. This included a variety of video processing
solutions and advanced modular receivers.
Harmonic also provided its MediaGrid shared storage and Spectrum
MediaDeck integrated media playout server systems to NBC Olympics
to support the network's "highlights factory" at the broadcaster's NBC
Sports Network facility in Stamford, Connecticut. Staff were able to
quickly access event footage, create highlights, and make them available.
NBC Olympics also used Snell's Alchemist Ph.c-HD system for frame
rate conversion from 50Hz to the 59.94Hz U.S. television standard.
The NBC Olympics International Broadcast Center in Sochi