2006 Olympics Unwired

Posted by Sam Churchill on

After 62 days and over 10,000 kilometres, the Olympic Flame has reached Torino, Italy for the start of the Winter Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee says everything is ready to go for the Opening Ceremony which kicks off Friday, February 10th. Here’s the Olympic Theme – (MP-3) and photos of the opening ceremony.

Wikipedia has a backgrounder on the the XX Olympic Winter Games, which is being held in Torino [or Turin], Italy from February 10 to February 26, 2006. Some 2,500 athletes from 85 countries will battle for 252 medals while some 10,000 journalists, 10,000 security personnel and 70,000 fans jostle for position. An estimated 2 billion people are expected to watch the Olympic Games on television (in a variety of screen sizes).

Some 500 network servers, connect 4,500 desktop and 600 portable computers, using over 400 km optic fibres with over 34,000 km of coax and twisted pair. They feed twelve thousand land line telephones and 9,000 television sets, while 6,000 digital walkie-talkie radios are used to link the venues.

For the first time, the entire event is being shot and transmitted in HDTV. The television signal, once picked up in the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) situated in the Main Communication Centre at the Lingotto Hotel in Torino, is converted in different standards (standard and high definition) to then be distributed in the whole world through fibre-optic cables and/or satellite.

Panasonic provided the Torino Olympic Broadcasting Organization with P2 solid-state memory devices as well as DVCPRO HD (tape) and DVCPRO50 recording equipment for the Torino Games. Panasonic will also be providing 25 Astrovision giant outdoor video screens at various Olympic venues, including the Stadio Olympico, where the Opening and Closing Ceremonies will be held. The official Torino2006.org website has info on the venues and competitions, complete with animations explaining each sport.

NBC, “America’s Olympic Network,” owns the exclusive U.S. media rights to the Olympic Games. NBC Olympics.com will have exclusive competition video of complete runs and routines, with real-time results and medal counts. NBC has profiles on the athletes, video clips and photos online with many free video clips also available at Google Video. MSNBC.com also has a special Winter Olympics news section that covers event results and other information.

Sun is powering the NBC Olympics site with Sun Fire x64 (x86, 64-bit) servers, Sun Fire V490 servers and T-1000 and 2000 blades running open source Solaris 10. Video, scores and other broadcast components are stored on Sun 5310 NAS and 6130 Fibre Channel SAN drives. In 2004, NBC had more than 13 million unique visitors at their Olympic site.

NBC Olympics.com features 213 different “Olympic Zones”, local websites produced in partnership with 213 NBC affiliates and integrated into NBC’s website after you type in your zip code. Many affiliates sent reporters to cover the local angle and write daily blogs.

SPORTSSHOOTER.COM has advice on covering the Winter Olympics.Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, owns 3 of the 4 private national stations and, as prime minister, controls all 3 state-run networks in Italy, cumulatively known as RAI. With the acquisition of Mondadori, he became Italy’s most important publisher of books and magazines.

RAI is working with Swiss set-top supplier ADB to distribute MPEG-4 compressed HDTV to 6800STX set-top boxes located in various public locations. ADB’s boxes incorporate DVB-T (terrestrial) and DVB-S2 (satellite) tuners. It’s distributed through RAI’s terrestrial network and Eutelsat.

International Broadcast Coverage is available from Italy (broadcasters), Australia (broadcasters), China (broadcasters), France (broadcasters), Germany (broadcasters), Spain (broadcasters), Japan (broadcasters), Korea (broadcasters), many other countries and non-US networks.

DIRECTV and NBC as well as DISH Network and NBC are carrying Olympic coverage in standard definition and HD.

EchoStar will feature a multiple picture-in-picture showcase. The mosaic, based on TV middleware from OpenTV, allows viewers to monitor six channels on a single TV screen and select the one they want to view full-screen. DIRECTV will dedicate its Sports Mix channel (channel 104) as an interactive hub for NBC’s Olympic coverage.

The DISH Network will broadcast the NBC Olympic coverage in high definition to all DISH Network HD viewers. DIRECTV will offer more than 100 hours of high-definition coverage from Universal HD and up to 200 hours of NBC network coverage in HD, as well as more than 15 hours of on demand NBC Olympics content available to DIRECTV DVR customers.To watch the Winter Olympics through cable providers like Comcast or Time/Warner, you generally must subscribe to their HD tier. Cuban’s HDNet is not carrying the Olympics.

CBC Olympic Coverage, in its 50th year, will provide more than 1,000 hours of coverage of TORINO 2006 — more than any other network in North America. CBC’s coverage, starting Friday, with live coverage of the Opening Ceremony, also marks the first time Canadians can experience the Games in High Definition.CBC Radio One will have a series of updates five minutes every hour. BBC tv coverage is available on handhelds and BBC Radio will provide coverage in a variety of languages.

So far, upwards of $110 million has been spent on security for Turin. Several foreign dignitaries are expected to attend, including first lady Laura Bush. The security force includes 9,000 police and paramilitary who will guard entrances to the venues, the Olympic and media villages. About 300 snipers on skis will be patrolling many of the alpine venues.Air space over the Olympics will be closed, with AWACS providing surveillence and the Italian air force providing missile protection. NBC will use a Goodyear blimp to provide aerial coverage for US television of the Winter Olympics.

“Everything that can be done is being done,” said Peter Ryan, security chief for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the Athens Games and an adviser to the Turin Games. “The venues are as secure as we can make them”.

Google Earth can fly you to Torino virtually. If you have Google Earth installed (free), you can fly to Torino then check out the Olympic events. Make sure you turn on the “terrain” layer and then tilt your view so you can see the mountains.Google Local and Google Local for Mobile, the free address mapping and location service, features high resolution photos of the Winter Games. Microsoft’s Virtual Earth can also show a wide shot of Turin. Here’s Google and Microsoft side by side. Google Maps Mania has the mashups.

About $1 billion in advertising
will come in four sizes: small, on cell phones; medium, on computers and airplanes; large, on television sets; and extra large, in movie theaters. NBC expects to meet a goal of $900 million in ad revenue, which would be a gain of 21.6 percent from the estimated $740 million in ad revenue during the 2002 Winter Games.

Visa USA will debut a campaign with the theme “Life Takes Visa,” which replaces its 20-year-old slogan, “It’s everywhere you want to be.” Coca-Cola plans to run 275 television commercials with a Web site featuring 6 students blogging from Torino.

Sprint Nextel will run daily video cell phone reports about the American skiers and snowboarders, which can also be downloaded from their Web site. A member of the U.S. team, Seth Wescott, on the US Snowboard Team, will be blogging on Sprint’s site. Sprint TV uses MobiTV, taking live television feeds and sending them over cellular networks.

Verizon’s EV-DO based Vcast, includes packaged video clips between one and four minutes in length and may have something on ESPN mobile. Mobilcast delivers Olympic updates to GSM phone users in the United States and Canada. The official mobile phone game of the Olympic Winter Games is Torino 2006 by i-Play. They also make Olympic Hockey for cell phones.Matt Croydon explains how to get Olympic news on your cellphone. NBC has RSS feeds while Digg and Feedster have story links. Flickr and TextAmerica have picturephone coverage while Google and Yahoo have picture search.

Dozens of Olympic-related fan sites are also available like Torino2006Blog, TheTorinoBlog, Journey to Torino and OffthePodium.com which highlights the athletes’ lifestyles. Technorati links to all of them.

MobileBlogs (Moblogs) can use PDAs and Camphones to upload or download multimedia. Audio from Odeo can be recorded on a cellphone from anywhere and downloaded to desktops, iPods, and mp3 players. PocketBlogger lets you upload a Moblog from a PocketPC while FeederReader, Melodeo and Pod2Mob deliver the latest podcasts to a PocketPC or cell phone. The StreetTorino Podcast uses ComVu, enabling live video webcasting from PocketPC phones like Sprint’s 6700.

NBC and the CBC have alert widgets for your desktop. Firefox extensions might also be handy.

Other popular sites include The US Olympic Team and the 2006 Torino Paralympic Games. Additional Olympic coverage is available from ABC News, ESPN, The CBC, CBS Sportsline, Fox Sports, USA Today, Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, C/Net, Newsweek, Time, Eurosport, Ski Magazine, Ski Racing, Snowboard, Snowboarder Magazine, USA Hockey, Google News, Yahoo Olympics, Yahoo’s Olympic News, Yahoo Full Coverage and Olympic Trivia.The IOCs main threat may soon be attacks on their revenue stream. Free mobile services like Google Mobile, Yahoo’s Go Mobile and Skype’s mobile video phone with Web 2.0 services could be connected with Mobile WiMAX everywhere you want to be at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Bejing.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Thursday, February 9th, 2006 at 10:12 am .