Magazine article Variety

Olympics Coverage: Bigger, Better, Faster

Magazine article Variety

Olympics Coverage: Bigger, Better, Faster

Article excerpt

most Olympic games generate controversy, but this year's edition in Rio de Janeiro seems to offer an even more generous dose of negativity, including the dust-up surrounding the doping of Russian athletes and fear of the Zika virus, which is keeping some athletes away - all set against the backdrop of Brazil's ailing economy and ongoing political crisis.

But perhaps the biggest non-sports story at the Olympics is one that will generate little publicity in and of itself: the behindthe-scenes logistics and sheer complexity of producing the television and digital coverage that will bring the games to the screens, big and small, of billions of viewers around the world.

The numbers are staggering. About 25,000 broadcasters, journalists, and other media pros from more than 200 countries will cover the games, which start Aug. 5 with opening ceremonies at Maracana Stadium. Approximately 15,000 broadcast and print journalists will be based in the Inti. Broadcasting Center and Main Press Center, located side-by-side in Rio's Olympic Park in the Barra neighborhood, where the bulk of the competition will take place. Another 10,000 media reps will work out of the Rio Media Center in the center of town.

The IBC boasts 12 full-blown TV studios, and is adjacent to the headquarters of Olympic Broadcasting Services, created in 2001 by the Inti. Olympic Committee to serve as the host broadcaster for all Olympic Games. The OBS content is delivered to nearly 100 broadcasters that hold rights to the Games in their respective countries and have paid the IOC to use the facilities.

Olympic Broadcasting Services will produce and transmit a combined 7,100 hours of live coverage from every sports venue, using a workforce of more than 7,000 people - up from the 6,000 who worked the London games in 2012. More than 1,000 cameras will be deployed.

Media companies are sending massive teams to Rio. Besides Brazil and the U.S., Germany, Japan, and China will have the most reps, with China's Xinhua News Agency dispatching 119, according to the agency's Rio office director Chen Weihua. "This will be the largest Xinhua team to cover an edition of the Olympics," he says.

NBCUniversal will handle U.S. coverage, -»* «- as it has since 1988 (when it was NBC), and will deliver broadcast content and will feed other outlets owned by parent Comcast, including USA Network, MSNBC, Bravo, and Telemundo.

The Olympics have always pushed the limits of technology, and this year is no exception, with the biggest strides being made in the delivery of 4K and streaming. …

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