Romero: OBS — Along With Rightsholders and Vendors — Aims To Inspire in Vancouver

The Winter Games are mere days away, which means it’s crunch time for Manolo Romero, CEO of Olympic Broadcast Services (OBS), and his team. This year’s Games signifies a major milestone as well as a turning point for Olympic coverage. The following article was written by Romero and explains the goals of the major changes for this year’s Games.

The Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver mark a new era in coverage of the Games. For the first time, OBS is fully in charge of the host broadcast operation. This new phase in our development puts our work in advancing the art and efficiency of media technology front and center. Our hope is that this will spur innovation in the larger broadcast community. That, in turn, will bring future improvements to Olympic broadcast coverage.

The host broadcast of the Vancouver Games is the fulfillment of a strategic plan that originated when the International Olympic Committee created OBS in 2001. Historically, the production of the host broadcast had been an ad hoc affair created for each particular Olympics. Having to start time and again from the ground up had inherent limitations.

The primary aim in creating a single organization that operates across successive Games is to ensure quality and consistency of coverage. The need for this is clear, given the scope of OBS’s responsibilities. The production requires the creation of a massive broadcast organization mobilizing thousands of professionals who work together intensely for a brief period. Alongside this, we also install and integrate facilities for all broadcast organizations working at the International Broadcast Centre. As overwhelming as this sounds, it is only the start of what we must accomplish.

Now the OBS concept enables broader capabilities. Because of the continuity of our efforts, we are better able to learn from the experience the Games offer. Research and development efforts take on a new significance. In fact, innovation has become the heart of what we do. We are constantly at work with our broadcasters and vendors to find new, better ways to communicate the Olympic Vision. In this light, the Games become the ultimate testing grounds for the techniques and technology we develop.

This methodology delivers new offerings and approaches to provide an exceptional value for our broadcasters. A good example is the development of the Olympic News Channel (ONC). The need to provide a headline news channel for the Games is clear. Producing highlights and clips is a basic task that benefits all Olympic broadcasts. The idea is to provide a flexible service to suit the needs of all our broadcasters. Those with fewer resources can utilize the entire 24-hour feed, while those with more may incorporate elements to enhance their own production.

The ONC concept was field-tested at the Beijing Games. The pilot project delivered proof of concept and provided a reference point for our broadcasters to respond with suggestions for improvements. Such feedback is the foundation of our development process. Building on the Beijing pilot, ONC Vancouver will have a far greater scope. While this will be a significant advance over ONC Beijing, the full flowering won’t occur until the 2012 Summer Games in London. Ultimately, this fulfills our goal of taking care of core tasks and allowing our broadcasters to deliver more for their audiences.

At the coming Olympic Winter Games, we have numerous other innovative projects in various phases of development. These range from content protection to virtual technologies to multiplatform delivery. Our success in each largely depends on the commitment of pioneering vendors and our broadcasters to advance the art. For Vancouver, as part of OBS’s development, we are making a special outreach to the larger media community. We welcome innovators who wish to join us in realizing our Vision for media coverage of the Games: to achieve feats as remarkable and inspiring as those of the Olympians.

The Sports Video Group will be in Vancouver beginning Tuesday Feb. 16 and will report live from the Games through Feb. 26. Be sure to check the SVG Website for all the latest news and to learn more about OBS activities as well as those of NBC Olympics, CTV, BBC, and more.

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