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8 TVBEurope London 2012 News & Analysis

BBC streams: The broadcaster transmitted 18 hours a day on its main BBC 1 and BBC 3 channels

most complicated parts actually. You’re not just trying to do your own streams, you’re trying to provide commentaries that are enabling up to five different platforms — and that’s a really major coordination issue.” In terms of archive, Cope said

“we brought about 1,000 hours of previous Games material onto site here to be loaded onto our main servers, and that’s all file-based. Well, 95% of it is file-based! There’s a bit of tape, as we still have a huge tape archive so inevitably there will be some tape around… “For outgoing archive we’re doing a constant rolling archive process, of host edit material and PSC material we’ve done, taking probably about 1,500 hours of archive off-site from here to bring back into our systems up North.” “In terms of the systems we

use,” said Cope, “a lot of the learnings have been taken from [our move] North and replayed into the systems here. It was with good reason that we did a lot of similar things down here.

“When starting [this project],

we had to evaluate from the ground up how we wanted to do it — and really these things are driven by editorial ambition and vision. The key things

were not just TV but the interactive streams and the ambition of the web-faced side of things — which was obviously a very big piece of the jigsaw for our coverage. “We were very nervous about the 24 streams when they went up on the first weekend, just because it was a bit of an unknown,” said Cope. “That has actually, touch-wood, all gone very smoothly. And in general, the operation has gone remarkably smoothly. We have niggles of course, but generally it’s gone remarkably well — as long as the rain stays away!”

Breaking records The rain did stay away — and indeed as we know now, the BBC’s multiplatform coverage of the Games delivered record figures online, on mobile and on the 24 dedicated streams. Video was the driver across platforms, with 106 million requests for BBC Olympic video content, more than double that for any previous event. An average of 9.5 million global and 7.1 million UK browsers logged on to the BBC Sport website each day of the games, easily breaking previous records. The Red Button coverage on Sky, Virgin Media and connected

TVs produced an audience of 23.7 million viewers, with each stream garnering an audience of more than 100,000 viewers. The most requested live video

stream on BBC Sport Online was for tennis when 820,000 people watched Andy Murray and Serena Williams take gold. At peak, BBC television audiences for key Team GB moments were bigger than anything seen before, with 90% of the UK population watching at least 15 minutes of coverage. The TV peaks were the opening and closing ceremonies, followed by Usain Bolt’s win in the 100m final.

Public service: Broadcast players and numbers German EBU Member ZDF

AS ALWAYS, the overall coordination and management of production was the role of Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), which also assumes much of the production. OBS covered Swimming, Diving, Synchronised Swimming, Water Polo, Modern Pentathlon — Swimming, Basketball, Equestrian, Fencing, Handball, Sailing, Shooting, Beach Volleyball and Wrestling. But covering an event of this

scale would be impossible without the support of public service broadcasters. For London 2012 the breakdown of EBU Members was as follows:

BBC (UK) Boxing, Rowing, Canoe/Kayak — Sprint, Tennis, Football; ERT (Greece) Weightlifting; NOS (Netherlands) Cycling — Road Race, Time Trial, Athletics — Walks/Marathon; STV (Slovakia) Hockey; SVT (Sweden) Athletics — Jumps; TVE (Spain) Canoe/Kayak — Slalom, Triathlon, Marathon, Aquatics — Swimming; VRT (Belgium) Cycling - BMX, Track, Mountain Bike; and YLE (Finland) Opening/Closing Ceremonies, Athletics — Integrated, Track and Throws. EBU Associate Members involved were CCTV (China)

Modern Pentathlon, Badminton, Gymnastics, Table Tennis; Fuji TV (Japan) Judo; and ICRT (Cuba) Volleyball Viewing figures outstripped

those of previous Games, with EBU Members reaching much larger audiences for London 2012 than Beijing 2008. In France, 34 million people watched at least an hour of the Games on France Télévisions’ France 2, France 3, France 4 and France O. During the Opening Ceremony, France 2 took a 27.5% market share, its best for seven years, while the next day France 3 won a 19.7% share, its highest since 2008.

averaged 3.59 million viewers for its London 2012 coverage, a market share of 24.9%. Beijing 2008 drew an average audience of 1.81 million, or a share of 22.5%. In Spain 5.68 million viewers, a 47.2% market share, tuned into RTVE for the men’s basketball final between Spain and the US. Use of the EBU’s live

streaming platform,, which provided 47 live feeds from 42 EBU Members every day of the Games, more than doubled since Beijing. The site provided 34 million streams over a total 6.7 million hours of playtime.

BBC Sport races ahead with Olympics workflow By Jake Young

MALCOLM COWAN had a key role as BBC Olympics’ lead editor for London 2012. “We’ve got a very good team of people involved in this,” said Cowan, speaking at an Avid reception overlooking the Olympic Park on Day 12 of the Games. “The BBC ambition has been huge from the very start. We basically wanted to televise every event on just about every platform possible, so we’ve gone hell for leather.” Undeniably, the BBC’s

coverage of London 2012 was enormous. The public service broadcaster made the Olympics available beyond the standard terrestrial channels, as a 3D feed late at night and in Super Hi-Vision (covered in TVBEurope’s August issue). Although its operations

spread across the UK — from Weymouth to Eton Dorney —

BBC Sport focused more on what was going on from ExCeL London, the International Broadcasting Centre (IBC), the Olympic Stadium (five cameras scattered around at key points), Aquatics Centre and Velodrome. “That’s fine if you’re just talking vision,” said Cowan. “If you add audio, communications and data it all gets very complicated very quickly.” To control this workflow, BBC Sport developed a system called ‘packaging’. “We basically take any venue, add together all the elements of that venue and put it together as a package,” explained Cowan. “All of that happens using a BNCS [Broadcast Network Control System] that we have in the IBC. It’s just too big an operation to do without any management of that process.” BBC Sport had eight edit suites, 13 edit desks, its 3D

Malcolm Cowan: “We basically wanted to televise every event on just about every platform possible, so we’ve gone hell for leather”

vast majority of IBC-based television companies used Avid technology in some shape or form. NBC Olympics’ HD nonlinear edit suites were outfitted with seven Avid Symphony and 26 Media Composer systems for editing and 5.1 surround sound. The systems were connected

operation, an ingest area, a transmission area, a co-ordination and support area and more on the ground floor of the IBC. “We have a Harmonic Omneon MediaGrid and an Avid ISIS 7000 set of chassis, so that’s the storage side of it all,” said Cowan.

“Hanging off as edit clients we have 29 Avid Media Composers, a whole load of EVS XT3 transmission servers, eight EVS XS ingest servers and all our data links back in and out of various networks.” According to Tom Cordiner, VP EMEA sales for Avid, the

to Avid Isis shared storage and Avid Interplay production asset management systems. Users were able to browse the Interplay MAM proxy and transfer material faster than realtime for use in Symphony and Media Composer editing software applications. AirSpeed 5000 was used in conjunction with Isis 7000 to create turnkey production islands at venues including the Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Centre. [See David Fox’s NBC Olympics feature for more, page 14] September 2012

Photo credit: Jake Young

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