Cisco To Power NBC’s All-HD Vancouver Olympics Coverage

At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, Cisco announced that it will provide significant video-network infrastructure for NBC’s coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. For the first fully HD Winter Olympics, Cisco will collaborate with NBC to provide a medianet, an IP video-network infrastructure that will provide a real-time, three-screen Olympic experience for the fan.

“This year, we’re expanding our IP contribution to distribution,” says George Tupy, manager, service provider marketing, for Cisco. “We view the entire food chain in four parts: IP contribution, then production, distribution, and consumption. In these Olympics, we’re moving more towards an end-to-end solution.”

That solution begins with video production, which NBC will handle from every angle during the 17-day event. Using a file-based workflow, Cisco IP video infrastructure, medianet technology, and a private network, NBC will be able to select shots and distribute them to postproduction editing facilities on-site, in New York, and in Las Vegas. A high-bandwidth connection between Vancouver and New York gives shot selectors and editors the ability to edit video as it is being captured, before an event is completed. Priority on the network is assigned to real-time video footage, ahead of highlights or feature packages.

“We are moving from an analog world to an IP world,” Tupy says. “We enable NBC to ingest the content in Vancouver and send it to New York or even Las Vegas for editing. With the coupling of those two functions, you have significant savings because you’re not moving people around the world.”

Using the Cisco backbone, NBC will deliver the equivalent of 100,000 feature-length movies worth of Olympic video in HD, which amounts to more than the entire Netflix library. In addition to highlight snapshots, fans can create their own schedule of Winter Games events on their PC, mobile device, or TV.

“There is a high-value add where you don’t have to look through the whole two-hour ice hockey match for highlights,” Tupy says. “You can get the highlights immediately, and you can search by goal or player name, so it will enable overall a much richer experience. With IP, you can expose the metadata, so, if you’re an end user, you can do your search the same way editors have done in the past.”

As with the Beijing Games, fans will be able to use DVR features while watching their favorite Olympic video, play back content on-demand, request highlights and encores, and view scoring results. Video and results will also be available on mobile devices.

NBC is also testing the Cisco Media Data Center and Cisco’s Unified Computing System to support production and video archiving in Vancouver.

“We are testing a lossless version of the Ethernet for the Media Data Center, where we take the Ethernet from the networking world and tweak it to make sure that we’re not losing any packets,” Tupy says. “We are working on archiving the content for NBC in the test mode.”

Coverage on NBCOlympics.com will rely heavily on Cisco Flip Video cameras. Analysts and bloggers will shoot on-the-fly video of the action outside the arenas and post it online to enrich the Olympic experience.

“The NBC network powered by Cisco technology is a medianet in action, making a great example of what a network optimized for extreme video traffic and rich-media applications can handle,” says Pankaj Patel, SVP/GM of Cisco Service Provider Group. “NBC’s multiplatform video coverage of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games gives viewers the chance to be up close and personal with all the action. Whether you want to watch on TV, PC, or mobile phone, you can be in control of your own experience to tune in when you want from wherever you want.”