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NBC's Olympic Channel Ready To Go for Gold

15/07/2017

NBC's Olympic Channel Ready To Go for Gold Carriage in 35 million homes is only the beginning By Ken Kerschbaumer, Editorial Director

Friday, July 14, 2017 - 2:53 pm

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Tomorrow at 6 a.m. ET, the Olympic Channel will become the latest sports network to hit the nation's cable and satellite boxes. The new channel - the result of a partnership between NBCUniversal, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) - promises to give Olympic sports a more consistent presence among sports fans who typically tune in only every two years.

To put it simply, the Olympic Games will now have a home between the Games being played, says Mike Tirico, primetime host, NBC Olympics. Those sports and those athletes will have a home where we can not only appreciate their talents but watch the best in the world continue to compete. The next generation come along.

NBC Sports Group's Gary Zenkel: These platforms form a powerful content-distribution system. This is an exciting day for us.

According to Gary Zenkel, president, NBC Olympics and Business, NBC Sports Group, the network will launch in more than 35 million homes.

These platforms form a really powerful content-distribution system where we will bring, again, the great content of the three parties together and make it accessible to this broad U.S. audience as we lead into and lead out of each of the next seven-plus Olympic Games, says Zenkel. This is an exciting day for us.

The programming strategy will be wide-ranging with an emphasis on live Summer and Winter Olympic Sports events and will also feature Olympic-themed original content produced by all three parties. Content will comprise original programs commissioned by the global Olympic Channel and produced by filmmakers from around the world, rich archival footage from the IOC and NBCU libraries of Olympic features and documentaries, and original Team USA programming produced by the USOC.

The opening weekend will be highlighted by coverage of the IAAF Diamond League this Sunday from Rabat, Morocco.

The IOC launched the Olympic Channel on the day of the Closing Ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Its technical operations are based at the OBS technical facility in Madrid, where control rooms and editing suites are used to produce a wealth of content from sports federations around the globe. The goal for the original channel is to give sports that may not have TV coverage a greater visibility around the globe and more relevance in the digital age.

But the launch of the Olympic Channel in the U.S. signals an important step forward for the service and its role in giving U.S. athletes greater visibility.

The Olympic Channel's Mark Parkman: This is the first step, and it speaks volumes of the commitment that NBC and the USOC have in the Olympic movement.

When we launched the global digital Olympic Channel at the close of the Rio Games, we said that it was going to be an evolutionary product, says Mark Parkman, GM of the IOC's global Olympic Channel. And Saturday is one of the major milestones of our evolution, when we come with a linear-channel launch in the USA in partnership with our wonderful partners, the NBC and Team USA, USOC organizations. This is the first step, which we think will continue to grow the Olympic Channel, its brand throughout the world, and it speaks volumes of the commitment that NBC and the USOC have in the Olympic movement.

The Technical Side of Things

Much of the content will be produced by the Olympic Channel and NBCUniversal will leverage technical and production assets in Stamford, CT; Denver; and Englewood Cliffs, NJ, bringing content in from the Olympic Channel and preparing it for U.S. distribution. Tim Canary, VP, engineering, NBC Sports Group and NBC Olympics, says that the technical and production efforts have been coming together during the past six months and one of the anticipated changes will be a large increase in the amount of content that will originate in Denver.

The Olympic Channel control rooms in Madrid

We were able to leverage our connectivity between Denver and Englewood Cliffs and use Evertz MPEG-4 encoders to get that content back and forth, We added two outbound lines from Denver and two return lines so they can see the master control return back in Denver, he explains. We can also get those outbound lines and see them in Stamford. If Denver wants to send us some content, we can see what they're doing as well, which is very helpful.

The ramp-up in Denver did not require much in the way of additional equipment with only a couple of updated ChyronHego Mosaic systems and an additional EVS XT3 server required. One key enhancement is that personnel in Denver can access Stamford's asset-management system and transfer content using Aspera or FileCatalyst.

It a lot of file movement of content for both live and archival content, adds Canary.

Additional work in Denver included adding three AWS Elemental streaming encoders to complement three Ateme encoders. NBCUniversal also changed the network configuration to allow the encoders to transit existing connectivity to iStream Planet and have content sent over to the Olympic Channel in Madrid.

This arrangement gives us more flexibility with our digital offering for the channel, says Canary.

He adds that the team in Denver, largely the former Universal Sports team, is phenomenal at doing events and those skills have been an asset. Live event coverage will rely on everything from world feeds that can be voiced-over in the U.S. (primarily in Denver) to more-important events, where trucks or flypacks could be used to add unilateral enhancements to a world feed.

There are some events coming up this month where we will deploy the NEWBERT remote-controlled flypack that is then con
LINK: http://www.sportsvideo.org/2017/07/14/nbcs-olympic-channel-ready-to-go...
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