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NBC Pursues Mass Streaming Initiative

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NBC Clears Hurdle for Beijing

A Big Job for BOB

TVT Newsbytes - Olympics

DTV Debut for GamesBEIJING
The 2008 Olympics marks the first time that streaming is designed to be an equal companion to the Olympics’ television broadcast, and is certain to be one of history’s most ambitious streaming projects yet.

That’s why NBC has devised a well-rounded game plan devoted to covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics via non-broadcast means.

NBC’s Olympic Web site——will give users access to more than 2,200 hours of streamed live video. Viewers can also get access to on-demand video clips, and receive programming via their mobile devices.

The goal is to make many of the NBC and the host broadcaster, BOB (Beijing Olympic Broadcasting) feeds available on most new media devices available in the U.S. While the Web site will be the primary driver, content will also be available on cable companies’ SD and HD video-on-demand systems, mobile phones, NBC2Go, electronic sites like Amazon, and a real-time application from LiveHive.

To facilitate its plan, NBC has created the “Streaming Factory,” which is designed to stream more than 25 simultaneous feeds of live competition; and the “Highlights Factory,” which was devised to create clip-based new media content.

“Covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics requires us to capture every moment of every competition at every venue in China,” said Dave Mazza, senior vice president of engineering for NBC Olympics. “And our audiences now expect the choice to see all of those moments. With this huge increase in new-media requirements, we needed a way to produce all of that content differently than we had ever attempted before.”


(click thumbnail)The site will offer as many as 20 live streams simultaneously.
The network’s new media solution revolves around technology from Omneon, who worked with NBC to create a long-distance file-based transportation system that would support its broadband coverage on

The transportation system includes 20 Media Deck media servers located in China that will digitize SD and HD feeds. Files are transferred to MediaGrid active storage systems, and then using ProCast CDN transport engines, low-resolution files are transferred from Beijing to a MediaGrid in the U.S. The Omneon system also interfaces with Avid editing and storage systems and metadata-management software from MOG Solutions.

For the encoding, transcoding and streaming portions, NBC will rely on firms like Digital Rapids, which will provide its DRC-Stream encoding and streaming solution to encode streams in VC-1 compression. Microsoft Silverlight technology will be used as an end-user browser platform.

The technology supports Windows Media Video 9 and offers enhancements to improve the Olympics streaming experience, such as a picture-in-picture option that allows viewers to watch live action of one event, while another event happens in a full-sized window. The site will offer as many as 20 live streams simultaneously.


NBC will use the Digital Rapids Transcode Manager, the Markham, Ontario-based company’s high-volume media file transcoding system, to convert affiliate-provided content between compression and file formats for domestic distribution.

Live streams aren’t the only draw, as NBC will boast a mix of archived video that can be reviewed on demand. A comprehensive package of highlight and clip packages—most likely up to 400 hours worth���called Olympic “High-lights,” “Rewinds” and “Encores.”

To manage the massive amount of material in its possession, NBC will use asset management technology from Blue Order Solution AG. For the Beijing Games, Blue Order revamped its enterprise Media Archive media asset management platform for NBC, and will have systems installed in China and the United States. to allow editors to select recorded events and provide introductions for repackaged clips, with proxies, keyframes and metadata replicated in both sites. Relevant pieces of metadata timelines will be added into the log.

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.