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NBC, Technology Providers Are Already Higher, Faster, Stronger at Olympics

NBC Universal and an army of technology providers are outdoing themselves making the Beijing Olympics the most monumental media production in the history of humanity.

As described in HD Notebook, viewers will be treated to images captured on 1,000 HD cameras, including such innovations as new aqua-cams for swimming and a bull’s-eye cam in the archery event.

NBCU—the exclusive U.S. broadcast rights holder—is presenting the games on an electronic decathlon of platforms, packaging at least 3,600 hours of 35 sports on its broadcast and cable channels, online, on mobile devices and for wire services. Most will be in 1080i. NBCU is providing more than 100 feeds back to the United States at any given time.

NBCU is also providing e-mail alerts of the games. To measure all that viewing across multiple platforms, it’s making an unprecedented effort using technology from San Francisico-based Quantcast.

For more details on NBCU’s HD plans for the games, read the July 23 issue of TV Technology in print and online.

In an effort to control online distribution of “unofficial” video captured by visitors to the Games, the International Olympics Committee announced earlier this week that a special YouTube channel devoted to Olympics coverage can be viewed in 77 countries where broadcasters have not secured exclusive on-demand viewing of Olympics video. This means U.S. viewers will not have access to the channel.

But other providers are getting in on the games. Dish Network and Charter Communications have both added two specialty HD channels, for soccer and basketball, just for the games. DirecTV will offer 10 titles each week on-demand.

Equipment makers smell gold as well. Panasonic, claiming the title of “Official Worldwide Olympic Partner in the Video and Audio Equipment category,” will provide its largest-ever delivery of equipment at all 37 venues in Beijing. A total of 25 Astrovision large-screen display systems have been installed in 18 venues.

Thomson Grass Valley is providing hundreds of cameras and gear for 30 OB trucks. China Central Television will use 15 GVG Infinity Series digital media camcorders and Edius nonlinear editing software. There’s even mobile TV access to the games, through China’s Administrative Bureau of Radio Stations use of Thomson Elite 100 and Elite 1000 transmission systems.

Sony is also providing a pile of tools with new XDCAM HD 4:2:2 technology including 30 PDW-700 2/3-inch CCD cameras and 170 PDW-HD1500 recording decks. NBCU is also using 42 Sony HDC-1400 studio cameras and several HDC-3300 3x Super Motion cameras. Switchers from Sony are also onsite, including 11 MVS-8000s and two MFS-2000s. Lenses are a mix of Canon studio and ENG lenses, and NBC is relying on Anton/Bauer batteries.

Nucomm microwave gear is relaying signals from the skies above Beijing for CCTV.

Making the whole operation run smoothly will by the people of BOB, the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting committee, that’s running the International Broadcast Centre.