NBC Coverage of the Vancouver Olympics: More coverage with less staff

Things are a bit more advanced than the first televised Olympics in 1936

“NBC sucks” is a constant drone you hear each and every Olympics.  “They didn’t show enough of the Tajikistan entrance, ergo they are biased against Tajikstan” and other silliness often is heard on the messageboards and other sites (and no, I’m not kidding about the Tajik reference–it happens).

So now that we’re done with that, let’s talk about some real live numbers behind this year’s Olympics.

NBC is going to have 835 hours of coverage across multiple platforms (and I believe that includes online coverage as well).  This is way up from the 419 hours of Torino coverage in 2006, and 375.5 hours in 2002 Salt Lake City.  It will also be the first Olympics produced entirely in HD (though my local WRC coverage got messed up last night due to a glitch with Comcast that I had, so I watched most of the Opening Ceremony in Standard Definition.  How 2003 was that?)

NBC is doing all this coverage with a significantly lower staff this year.  2168 employees which is down from the 2,768 they sent to Torino and 3,260 in Salt Lake.  You would figure more advanced technology might require more personnel, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

But if you really want to get into the technical bits of the coverage, you need to read this amazing piece in BroadcastingCable magazine that goes into some massive details, such as What type of Cameras are they using for Vancouver?

NBCU will use more than 100 cameras, all equipped with Canon lenses, to supplement OBS’ coverage. They include Sony HDC-1400, -1500 and -3300 units, and for ENG applications, Sony’s new PDW-F800 XDCAM HD optical-disc camcorders.

Um, ok.  It also goes into some details about how the streams are being processed directly in Vancouver instead of backhauled to their HQ and redone there (as they had to do with the China Olympics).

Anyway, it’s a pretty interesting article if you like technical details of television sports broadcasting.