Olympic Games to Serve Up Video for Mobile Users

By Troy Dreier

July 22, 2008

NBC will stream 2,200 hours of live coverage of the Olympics and will offer over 3,000 hours of on-demand video, including full-event replays, highlights, and interviews. China's CCTV will produce lower-bandwidth mobile-friendly video, as well.

In a show of the deepening impact of online video to mass culture, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games will include thousands of hours of online video. Discover what will go online as well as the tools organizers are using to prepare.

NBC will stream 2,200 hours of live coverage of the Olympics and will offer over 3,000 hours of on-demand video, including full-event replays, highlights, and interviews.

Silverlight takes the gold

To deliver that video, NBS is going with a Silverlight 2-powered player created by Schematic. The player is currently up and running on the official site, delivering live coverage of U.S. Olympic trials and athlete background stories.

The NBC site represents the highest-profile deployment of Microsoft Silverlight 2 yet. All video will be available free-of-charge and the player will feature more than a dozen live streams at peak times to ensure that fans will be able to watch their favorite athletes go for gold in 25 Olympic sports.

"Fans are going to be truly amazed at both the quality of the live video and the comprehensive menu of sports available for viewing," said Trevor Kaufman, CEO of Schematic. We believe that Silverlight’s powerful and distinctive capabilities were critical in enabling us to build such a fluid and satisfying user experience."

The Silverlight interface will allow viewers to watch up to four live streams from the same event at once. A picture-in-picture feature will let viewers watch a program displayed in inset windows while another program is displayed on the full screen.

Other features of the Silverlight player include the ability to access metadata such as results and athlete information, the ability to receive alerts for favorite events, and multiple bit rate streaming which automatically matches the quality of the video to the viewer's connection speed.

Flash delivers mobile streams

Adobe Flash video isn't shut out of the games, however. On2 Technologies announced that China’s nationwide broadcasting network, CCTV, will use the On2 Flix Engine to encode and publish video coverage of the games on its domestic Web site, www.cctv.com.

CCTV, the official Internet and mobile phone broadcaster of the 2008 games, will deliver an exclusive video-on-demand service using On2’s VP6-based Adobe Flash video across its network of more than 1,000 servers, bringing 24/7 accessibility of the 2008 Beijing Olympics to China’s Internet users.

By using On2, CCTV will reduce the bandwidth needed by as much as 40 percent. Following this initial collaboration, CCTV intends to expand the use of On2's solutions to deliver video across multiple screens.

“Our bandwidth costs are very high as we need to support a large number of concurrent downloads, and this will inevitably increase during the Olympics,” says Shan Xiaolei, director, technology management commission, CCTV “On2 have helped us quickly address this problem by contributing the Flix Engines we need to publish our sports coverage.”

With the games only three weeks away, it's clear that they'll mark a turning point in public access of online video. This year, look to your browser for the best Olympic coverage.

Article adapted from Web Video Universe.

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