U.S. audiences watching the Olympics online via either NBC Sports' YouTube channel or their cable providers' authenticated app will be thinking about the athletes, not about how the telecast of their feats reached their devices. But several providers are linking the puzzle pieces:
Production and post-production: EVS, Harmonic, Avid
EVS' XT3 server, top and IP Director playlist panel, bottom. (Source: EVS)
While EVS is handling live production workflows for the broadcast coverage of the Games by NBC--deploying 70-odd servers at strategic locations including the International Broadcast Center in Sochi and NBC's production centers in Stamford, Conn., and New York City, other providers are helping to manage and distribute the massive amount of digital video flowing in from the venues.
Harmonic is helping to power NBC's "Highlights Factory" at the Stamford location, where NBC staff is turning raw event footage into highlight clips and making them available to mobile devices. "Using extensive live logs and stats, scoring, and timing information embedded as metadata, editors will be able to make shot lists that can be quickly and automatically conformed in proxy resolution for streaming along with live multiscreen services, or conformed in high resolution for use in NBC Olympics' traditional broadcast edit suites in Stamford and other U.S. facilities," the company said in a release announcing its participation.
The provider has integrated its MediaGrid storage product with EVS' workflow so that producers at any location during the Games can access footage as needed.
Avid, meantime, is using its Interplay Media Asset Management system to help store and manage Olympics content, which will speed up production and distribution of NBC's coverage throughout the Games.
Video processing and transport: Brevity, Ericsson
Got graphics on your TV or mobile device screen detailing the score, run times, or other details of an Olympics event? Brevity is responsible for rendering those graphics files so they can be integrated with the live video element.
"With Brevity, NBC Olympics will render graphics on the fly while seamlessly transferring those graphics files into the Avid DNxHD format for editing," the company said in a release.
Brevity's solution simultaneously transports and transcodes RLE (Run Length Encoding) files into the needed Avid format so that NBC can quickly move the file into its Avid editor.
Ericsson, meanwhile, is tackling the complexities of HD broadcast, providing "a range of video processing solutions and modular receivers" to NBC during the Games.
Distribution and authentication: Adobe Primetime, Synacor
Primetime overview (Source: Adobe)
Among the vendors enabling viewers to log in to NBC's Live Extra app and website are Adobe and Synacor.
Adobe first partnered with NBC for the 2012 Olympic Games, providing a viewing platform for multiscreen and mobile devices, and that relationship continues with the Winter Olympics. Its Primetime platform enables the broadcaster to stream video to multiple screen types, from TVs to smartphones. Additionally, Adobe is handling authentication across devices and is using the Olympics to promote its in-home and cross-domain verification offerings.
The vendor added a few new features to its Primetime offering during the Games. Most noticeable, particularly to non-authenticated viewers, is the 30-minute viewing window for first-time users. Once the trial period is up, users can only view 5 minutes of content on the Live Extra app or website at a time, before being asked to sign in and authenticate their subscription to a pay-TV provider.
Subscribers to certain providers--including Comcast Xfinity, Cablevision Optimum, Cox Communications and Midcontinent Communications--who are accessing the Live Extra app inside their homes will be verified automatically, Adobe said in a release, without having to go through the login process. The auto authentication service cross-references the user's IP address with the home address on the subscriber account to confirm that they're using the service at home.
Likewise, users of Adobe Pass only need to authenticate once, thanks to its cross-domain verification service, which verifies users across each of their devices once they have authenticated their cable subscription on an NBCUniversal website or app.
Synacor, which has signed on with the broadcaster since the 2010 Vancouver Games, is also working with NBC Sports to provide TV Everywhere authentication services for nearly 40 pay-TV providers. The vendor has also deployed its Cloud ID auto-authentication with Midcontinent Communications. In addition to recognizing a viewer's pay-TV account while they're in their home, the auto-authentication service "connects via a user's familiar social media login, wherever the location," the company said in a release.
Updated Feb. 14 to reflect Synacor's participation in delivering the Games to viewers.