“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.]]>
So everyone who went to Vegas came back talking about 3D televisions, and I guess I probably should as well.
The folks who saw 3D tv and who were awestruck basically fell into two categories: gamers and sports fans. The gamers were really excited about some of their favorite titles ending up in HD, and the sports fanatics were basically just a bunch of drooling jibbering idiots (according to Leo Laporte of Tech TV during one of his posts). Oh yea, and porn too. But we’re not going to go there.
But it might also be about keeping one step ahead of the streaming IPTV services.
Print never had a chance, music took solace (wrongfully) in the idea that mp3’s were of such an inferior quality that people wouldn’t give up CD’s for the sound, and radio went down a long dark road to HD nowhere thinking that was the solution to the problem (as they saw it). TV moved up to HD quality a few years back, forcing everyone to buy a new television and forestalling, temporarily, the IPTV movement. Just when bandwidth got to such a level to support some good quality streaming (such as Twit.tv) they raised the bar to a quality level that as some have said, once you have seen it is hard to go back to standard digital.
But now HD streaming is becoming more and more popular. Hulu is offering HD streams of TV programs, Youtube is as well. There are TV programs such as FILMON that allows HD streaming of content that is pretty impressive for live quality.
Perhaps this whole 3D thing is just another attempt to push the bar a bit higher–to differentiate IPTV from 3DHD. Make it harder for the computer folks to keep up with what the television networks are offering, and you are able to stay in business a few more years as an over the air / cable broadcaster. Stay alive until the new new thing is out, or until TV figures out streaming in such a way as they can make a decent profit from it and avoid the piracy concerns they have.
Or maybe it is just a gimmick.
As for me, no way I’m buying a 3D TV for at least a few product cycles (i.e. until they get a standard, and work out the kinks).]]>
While poking around the app store yesterday, I came across a few new applications that have tremendous promise.
France 24 in the news section offer live streaming of the France 24 (think CNN of France). The buffering is pretty quick and the quality is not bad. France24 is a different take on some of the news out of Europe and this lets you watch them on your iPhone via wifi pretty easily. Free app and worth a download.
France24 is only on limited cable systems in the US, with service in Washington and New York that I know of. They had some great coverage of some stories like the Bettancourt rescue in Columbia and they also have some good culture shows from Europe that are worth watching.
TVU is p2p video streaming company that allows you to watch tons of content from around the world, some of which is probably not authorized by the copyright holder. The app is in beta and released, but will likely have a few new developments that will make it much more useful (such as widescreen, which I haven’t figure out how to use just yet. Lots of Chinese channels (as I’ve said before, the Chinese are light years ahead of the US on IPTV — light years). Amazing what developments can be done when DRM is not the first consideration.
We’re still waiting for livestation.com to come out with their app (in development) and I guess we are still waiting for the Slingbox app, promised for months and months (but no where in sight just yet).