Broadcasting: The 2020 Olympic Games

Broadcasting: The 2020 Olympic Games

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28% of the world’s population watched or listened to some form of coverage of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. That’s around 1.9 billion people actively spectating one of the largest and most complex sporting events in the world. Put simply, it’s a phenomenon taking place every 4 years. In order for this phenomenon to occur, viewers rely on reliable broadcasting operations to showcase their country’s sporting highs and crumbling lows.

The first official example of Olympic Games broadcasting dates back to the 1930’s – where the 1936 Berlin Olympics were broadcast via closed circuit television to various dedicated viewing halls within the capital of Germany. Despite the restricted nature of this initial broadcast, it was a significant turning point – contributing towards the phenomenal scale in which the Olympics is now shown across the world on countless numbers of local and national programming schedules.

The Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS) produces the television and radio coverage which is provided to regional broadcasters. As expected, the world feed is neutral and unbiased, ensuring the content is relevant to all countries and territories. In order for the Olympics to be shown in your territory, it’s the job of Rights Holding Broadcasters (RHBs) to strike a deal, exclusive or not, with the OBS. In the US, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be broadcasted via various NBCUniversal networks – who have held Summer Olympic Games broadcasting rights since 1988. 

The Olympic Channel

The worldwide broadcasting of the Olympic Games has proven to be a key driving force in the funding and overall awareness of the Olympics. To further increase the reach of the games in the digital age, the Olympic Channel was established in 2016. The Olympic Channel acts as an over-the-top online streaming service operated officially by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The main focus of the Olympic Channel is to sustain interest year-round, outside of the Games – you’ll be able to view everything from qualifying events to original content focusing on athletes and their stories. Schedules are streamed all day, every day – despite being off-season! By incorporating an over-the-top streaming strategy, the IOC hopes to inspire younger viewers across the world and maintain their interest in the Games with an easily accessible online platform. No subscription required here – it’s supplemented through advertisements via their sponsors.

How The Cloud Will Revolutionize Olympic Games Broadcasting

The sheer scalability of cloud-based broadcasting will take centre stage as billions worldwide tune in to view the Track and Swimming finals in Tokyo. This year’s Games will represent a significant milestone for cloud-based broadcasting at the Olympics, thanks to a partnership between the OBS and Alibaba Cloud – OBS Cloud. Through this new platform, the majority of video and audio coverage from Tokyo will be offered to RHBs through the OBS Cloud. This could ultimately see RHBs descaling on-site broadcast activities in Tokyo, taking full advantage of the speed and reliability we’ve come to expect from the cloud. We’re excited to see how this development plays out, and welcome the shift towards embracing digital transformation in sports broadcasting.

8K At The Olympics

NHK, a Japanese Broadcaster, has recently announced that the 2020 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games will receive coverage in 8K. 8K coverage is expected to extend to specific events such as track and field, and of course, the opening and closing ceremonies. NHK began broadcasting 8K UHD in 2018, labelling the development as ‘Super Hi-Vision’ – and they’ve been planning an 8K Olympics spectacle for years. It’s expected that home viewers in Japan will have full availability to 8K coverage and 22.2 channel audio. In Italy, Rai is set to become the first European broadcaster to offer 8K broadcasts – showcasing this ability with their own 8K coverage of the 2020 Olympic Games.