The French Connection: A New Era of Olympic Broadcasting

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Gallic and Global: Streaming for the Gold

The announcement that Peacock, an American OTT streaming service owned by NBCUniversal, will stream all 329 medal events live during the 2024 Olympics marks a watershed moment for broadcasting. This monumental shift towards streaming platforms underscores the changing landscape of how audiences consume sports content. Peacock’s commitment to stream over 5,000 hours of live coverage, including full-event replays, curated clips and exclusive programming, ensures that more sports will be covered than ever before.

Paris, the second most-visited city in the world, is hosting the Games, with events spread across France and even reaching Tahiti. The geographical diversity of venues presents unique logistical challenges for broadcasters. However, it also offers a unique opportunity to showcase the rich cultural tapestry and scenic beauty of these locations, enhancing the viewer's experience through the power of content, be it streaming, local TV or radio, or on social channels.

Parisian broadcasters will approach the Olympics with a perspective distinct from their international counterparts. For the French media, the event transcends traditional sports coverage, emphasizing the broader implications for Paris, including the significant impact on urban life. This encompasses keeping locals, residents and visitors informed about transportation logistics, crowd management, parking and other concerns. In recent years, broadcasters have significantly invested in advanced remote technology, allowing individual reporters to efficiently capture and share content such as street interviews and quickly distribute content across all platforms.

The scheduling of premier medal events during the U.S. afternoon hours, given Paris's time zone advantage, promises live action in ways previously unachievable for American audiences. The outdoor Opening Ceremony airing live along the Seine River will set the tone for an Olympics that breaks the mold in presentation and viewer engagement. Following live coverage, a three-hour enhanced primetime show will provide a behind-the-scenes look at each Olympic day.

Due to the extended disruptions to regular local news broadcasts, NBC will also provide its affiliates 90-second windows to produce cut-ins during its Olympics coverage. Most will air around 5 p.m. local time when many stations normally begin their early evening newscasts. Expect to see hyper-localization, such as stories featuring hometown athletes. France will highlight the most current breaking stories as well as inform Parisians about the events’ local impact. To do this, broadcasters will need technology that allows them to quickly find the most compelling content, including archival footage, to hold viewers’ attention – all in real time.

Cloud, AI and Metadata: The Backbones of Modern Broadcasting

Local broadcasters, whether in Paris or beyond, will maximise their unique and localised content on social media and digital outlets. This approach not only caters to viewers’ changing consumption habits but also opens new avenues for engaging content that can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. For the first time, Olympics viewers will have the ability to customise their live feed and access multi-view features to watch events simultaneously, on whatever device they choose.

A lot has changed in the four years since the last Olympics – and those changes benefit broadcasters and viewers alike. Given the massive amounts of content, frame rate conversions, localization and new distribution channels, the use of agile cloud-based platforms to handle the immense load of data and content is another testament to the technological leaps being made. The ability to scale ingest, acquisition, storage and media processing requirements on-demand reflects a significant move towards more flexible and efficient broadcasting models.

Agile cloud-native platforms can optimise costs by automatically adjusting and scaling the infrastructure, almost in real-time, based on the workload demands. It is not that the cloud is inherently less expensive, but that applications can be designed so that you only pay for infrastructure as needed, thus optimizing operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Today, many European and global broadcasters are adopting hybrid cloud approaches, combining on-premises infrastructure with cloud-based services to scale capabilities for major events like the Olympics. This allows them to balance the benefits of both on-premises and cloud-based solutions.

Integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into sports workflows sets the stage for more dynamic and engaging content. Perhaps the biggest challenge will be handling the specificities of Olympic-related metadata. Each sport has its own statistics, data feeds and models, logging requirements, and integration with Olympic data feeds. The move towards utilizing AI with sophisticated metadata systems is perhaps the most exciting technological leap. Viewers now expect content tailored to their individual preferences, whether that's by their country, sport or even a particular athlete, delivered with unprecedented speed and accuracy.

AI enables reporters to quickly find relevant content throughout the event thanks to metadata tags, commentary transcription and object recognition, eliminating hours of searching. AI can also suggest relevant archived content to further enhance a story, for example, identifying a previous world record. AI-powered video editing tools can quickly assemble a highlights package for a day or a given sport. These are just a few examples of AI’s promise to dramatically reduce the time and effort needed to build a single story, therefore enabling storytellers to create more compelling content to keep audiences engaged across any and all consumption platforms.

Behind-the-Scenes and Beyond

Perhaps one of the most significant impacts of technology on the Olympics is the ability to bring viewers closer to the athletes and action. With a huge contingent of freelance journalists and plans for more behind-the-scenes coverage than ever before, fans will gain real insight into what it means to be an Olympic athlete. This unprecedented access, facilitated by new technologies and digital platforms, adds a new dimension to the storytelling aspect of the Games, allowing for a deeper connection between athletes and audiences.

The 2024 Paris Olympics are a beacon for the future of sports broadcasting, driven by a blend of traditional spirit and cutting-edge technology. From the comprehensive live streaming on Peacock to the innovative use of AI and metadata, the next Olympics are poised to offer a viewing experience unlike any before. These technological advancements will not only enhance the way we watch the Games but also ensure that the Olympic spirit continues to inspire and unite people across the globe in new and exciting ways.

[Editor's note: This is a contributed article from Dalet. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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