Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

BBC Offers View of TV's Future with Olympics ; Live Coverage of Events and New Technology Pull in Millions of Viewers

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

BBC Offers View of TV's Future with Olympics ; Live Coverage of Events and New Technology Pull in Millions of Viewers

Article excerpt

Unlike its counterpart in the United States. the BBC is providing marathon live coverage during the Games, with 24 live feeds from different events.

While some U.S. television viewers are grumbling about the retro feel to the NBC network's Olympic coverage, with tape-delayed broadcasts of the opening ceremonies and other events, audiences in Britain are getting a more contemporary -- even futuristic -- TV Games.

There, the BBC is providing marathon coverage -- 2,500 hours of programming during more than two weeks of the Games. At the touch of a button on their remote controls, viewers can choose among as many as 24 live feeds of various events, whether basketball or fencing.

"We wanted to give people every venue, from first thing in the morning to last thing at night," said Roger Mosey, director of the BBC's Olympic coverage.

London Olympics have provided a variety of television "firsts." The last such Games, in 1948, were the first to be televised to people's homes, for example.

This time, the BBC and NHK, the Japanese public broadcaster, are testing a new technology -- so-called Super Hi-Vision television, which they describe as providing 16 times the resolution of conventional high-definition television.

Super Hi-Vision is not available in homes yet and may not be until 2020 or so, executives say. But the technology is being used to film a number of events for closed-circuit broadcasts on giant screens in London and Bradford, England; Glasgow; and Tokyo and Fukushima in Japan. A feed has also been provided to NBC for a screen in Washington.

"It's better than 3-D," Mr. Mosey said. "It's like looking through a glass window at an event."

3-D broadcasts, which have been around for a few years, are the only ones among BBC Olympic offerings that have not lived up to expectations, Mr. Mosey said. Viewer numbers for other services have been strong, though there have been some glitches: technical problems, for which the BBC blamed the Olympics organizers' broadcast services, marred coverage of a cycling event.

Through the first six days of the Games, 45.4 million Britons had tuned in to at least 15 minutes of the BBC's coverage -- more than during the entire three weeks of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 or the Athens Games in 2004. More than 16 million people have used the so- called Red Button service, which provides the simultaneous live feeds. …

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