Microsoft Silverlight technology at center of viewer experience at NBC on MSN

By Ken Kerschbaumer

NBC Universal, owner of the exclusive U.S. media rights to this
summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing, China (August 8-24, 2008), has seen the light, literally, and will team up with MSN and Microsoft in an unprecedented
strategic alliance to create “ on MSN”, a
next-generation online experience for Olympic fans across the United
States. At the core of the agreement? Using Microsoft’s Silverlight technology to deliver a quality experience.

“Over the past 20 years, we have continually
expanded our coverage of the Olympics to new platforms as they have
become available, and the Beijing Games will mark another milestone,”
said Gary Zenkel, President, NBC Olympics. “By teaming up with MSN and
Microsoft, we can give both the core fan and casual consumer of the
Olympic Games an amazing online experience, combining high-quality
video with the storytelling and analysis that we’re known for. We
chose to partner with MSN and Microsoft because technologies such as
Silverlight help us deliver the kind of next-generation online viewing
experience that will change the way the Olympics is experienced for
millions of fans in 2008.”

Silverlight has a mass of new features and functionality, but the
standout is the ability to synch live statistics in video
streams. This lets fans create overlays that are the at-home equivalent
of having your own Chyron at home. This feature will become available
by Spring training next year.

For all that, the program has a very small footprint and will run on
very modest systems. The reason why Silverlight is so nimble is because
the software engineers did not start with the full Windows Media system
code. Instead, they worked from the mobile player implementation for
cell phone to arrive at an elegant, efficient product with no hardware

The new alliance was announced during
the keynote presentation of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates at the
Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The two companies will work
together to deliver Olympic coverage to the U.S. online audience,
powered using Microsoft’s Silverlight technology.

As a result of this unprecedented alliance, “ on MSN” will deliver 2,200 hours of live event video coverage, with more than 20 simultaneous live video streams at peak times. More than 3,000 hours of on-demand video content including
full-event replays, highlights, features, interviews and encore
packages will also be available.

Silverlight will deliver an “enhanced playback mode”
that gives users the choice of a high-quality full screen viewing
experience that is as good or better than anything on the Internet today. Unique metadata overlays powered by Silverlight that enable fans
to have access not only to high quality video, but also to the wealth
of related content including results, statistics, comprehensive bios,
rules and expert analysis from NBC’s Olympic digital media team in

are pleased to partner with NBC to bring immersive, interactive video
experiences to millions of sports fans during the Beijing Olympics,”
said Kevin Johnson, president of the Platforms & Services Division,
Microsoft. “Combining NBC’s rich history in covering the Olympic Games
with MSN’s reach and Microsoft’s Silverlight technology will help
change the way people connect to and consume rich content on the web.”

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