BBC Keeps Things Simple In Vancouver But Knows 2012 London Games Will Be Very Different

The BBC has a small workforce of 70 staffers here in Vancouver for the Winter Games that is working closely with BBC staff in London. Charlie Cope, BBC Sport, technical executive, says the time difference between London and Vancouver, 8 hours, is part of the reason for the smaller staff as the on-location crew is primarily in place to add commentary to European Broadcast Union (EBU) HD feeds that are being received in London.

“We are working in all SD here for making features and commentary but the content is transmitted in HD back at home,” says Cope. “The key part is to have a visual presence here to bring the viewer to the games.”

Three stand-up positions, two in Vancouver and one in Whistler, are used for coverage that begins at 5 p.m. on BBC2 and BBC HD in London and continues through to 6 a.m. There is also a highlights program that airs in the late morning. “In terms of hours its more coverage than we have ever done before,” says Cope.

Of course, 2012 is a big focus for the staff as well, as BBC will broadcast a summer games that will take place in London. BBC executives are in Vancouver meeting with broadcasters, in particular CTV, to learn about workflows, staffing strategies, and more.

“It’s been great to go visit the different venues and broadcasters here,” says Cope. The expectation, he says, is that the evolution of digital platforms like the Internet, mobile devices, and IPTV, will be a big driver of content creation and distribution in 2012.

“Those platforms tend to drive everyone to reassess how they make content, not just a single platform that drives the production process,” says Cope. “The CTV Web site has been fantastic and a good benchmark to see how content can be integrated and production processes can be used efficiently.”

And while 3D appears to be on the BBC roadmap for the 2012 Olympics, Cope says there is still much work to be done to figure out just how that will happen. “There is no 3D distribution platform so maybe that is where something like IPTV is a potential carrier of content,” he says.

As if the challenge of broadcasting an Olympics held on home soil is not enough the BBC will also broadcast the games following a move of its base of operations from London to Manchester. The good news, says Cope, is a new building will mean new technologies that will make it easier to deliver and create content.

“It’s going to be a busy few years,” he adds.