OLYMPIC SPECIAL REPORT: Broadband Explosion

When the Torino Winter Games begin on February 10 it ll be easy to get sucked into more than 200 hours of HD Olympics programming but NBC is also doing everything it can to suck viewers into the broadband experience at NBCOlympics.com.

And Evan Silverman, executive producer for the site, says video will be huge part of the online experience. We ll be showing complete runs and routines of every event for the top five competitors, every American, and other notable performances, he says. For longer sports like ice hockey and curling NBC will produce highlight packages of the action. NBCOlympics.com will also have video from the 2002 Salt Lake Games, interviews with more than 75 top Olympians, and even childhood video of select Olympians.

Making it possible for viewers to check into the site and watch virtually hours of online video isn t an easy task. Silverman says 25 producers will be located at the International Broadcast Center in Turino to handle the video, photos and text. We ll have access to hundreds of feeds at the broadcast center so we can monitor what is going on, he says.

Video highlights will be posted to the site as soon as an event is done airing on one of the NBC Universal networks. The only time highlights will be held back is when it airs later that night in primetime. In those instances the highlights will be available once the event s primetime airing is over.

When it comes to what part of the site Silverman thinks will be the hot draw his preference is clear: The video is going to be awesome, says Silverman. Online will be the only place someone will have the ability to see a lot of the full runs and routines.

NBC s site will also provide an opportunity for local NBC stations. Each station will be provided with an Olympic Zone on the site where they can post content related to local athletes. Olympic Zones will include video, slideshows and other content, as well as exclusive reports from Beach Volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh. To date, 213 of the 230 NBC affiliates have elected to participate in the “Olympic Zone” project.

That local presence builds on a relationship NBC stations already have with Internet Broadcasting (formerly IBS). Internet Broadcasting produces the Web sites for NBC’s 14 owned and operated TV stations and a number of their affiliates, including sites in the nation’s top markets: New York (WNBC.com), Los Angeles (NBC4.tv), and Chicago (NBC5.com).

While Internet Broadcasting is helping publish much of the content it will be up to Akamai to handle the server load. Silverman says he believes the biggest burden on the infrastructure will occur around lunch time across the U.S. as many of the most popular events will take place around 8 p.m. in Torino which is 11 a.m. on the West Coast.

Our ultimate mission is to be another channel for our viewers and to enhance the entire experience for the wealth of visitors, says Silverman. And if increase the amount of time people spend on the site during the day it will lead to more audiences at night because they ll know what is going on.

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