2012 Olympics Begin

Jason Gaedtke, the director of software engineering for YouTube’s live streaming efforts, doesn’t expect to get much sleep over the next two weeks, explains Janko Roettgers on GigOm. YouTube is live streaming the London Olympics for NBC, and Gaedtke is about to go on a time zone-induced around-the-clock work binge, communicating with the NBC folks on the East Coast and keeping everything running smoothly in California.

YouTube is streaming the Olympics to 64 countries on behalf of the IOC.


YouTube started talking to NBC about a year ago. “They were looking for a live video platform partner,” he said, and the two sides quickly got into business with each other. Since then, a relatively small team has been working on YouTube’s efforts, with a heavy focus on optimizing the video quality. “Some of the live events are very challenging to encode,” explained Gaedke. Think of the moving water during a swimming contest, for example.

The second challenge is to deliver the best possible quality every viewer, regardless of their connection and device of choice. YouTube is utilizing adaptive bitrate streaming for this, and will prepare a total of seven different bitrates to gracefully scale from a audio-optimized stream on mobile devices all the way up to 1080p. The highest-quality stream will come to consumers at just under 5Mbps, with some spikes for those hard-to-compress moments.

The player used on NBCOlympics.com will look familiar to most viewers: YouTube essentially used its own Flash player, but added some extra functionality on top of it. For example, viewers will be able to instantly rewind 10 seconds and jump back and forth to key moments of any competition.

To make this easier, there will be chapter markings for any highlights — a feature that’s enabled through something that Talwar called “storyboarding the competition.” There will also be an option to switch between English and Spanish-language audio commentary, and the site will display live viewer counts for any ongoing competition to show viewers that they’re part of a crowd. “It’s a lot more fun to watch a live stream when you get feedback that it is live,” explained Talwar, who hs been in charge of the live player for this project.

A partnership with the IOC put YouTube in charge of the online video feeds for 64 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, including India, Singapore, Kenya, Ghana and Malaysia. Google had to review its local peering agreements to prepare for the potentially huge audiences in some of these countries, and conducted extensive traffic modeling exercises.

If you want to enjoy NBC’s coverage of virtually every event online, you’ll need to have a cable subscription that gives you access to both CNBC and MSNBC. Cord-cutters will have to make do with what’s being broadcast over NBC network TV.

On Friday, the 27th of July, the opening ceremony began broadcasting to billions of people, worldwide. Here’s How to Watch TV on Your PC, How To Watch The Olympics Without A TV and mobile options.

Ban.jo is an app for IOS and Android that aggregates and maps social media at the Olympics. Reuters Olympics app delivers the best live photos (IOS only). Panasonic has a Facebook Flag Tag, which crops a transparent flag onto your face in pictures.

The Guardian has interactive features, including Second Screen — a live, visual dashboard for the computer or tablet that displays live blogs, results, pictures and tweets. Their worldwide network of Olympic experts brings together Olympians, bloggers, coaches and up-and-coming athletes from all 26 disciplines.

NBC has A Social Guide to the 2012 Summer Games with dozens of twitter hash tags. The IOC’s social hub has accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and Flickr.

As Media Shift summarized; “Glory will be shared, and secrets will be spilled. Just as many businesses have realized that ignoring or banning social media just doesn’t work. The Olympics — and the media outlets covering it — are leaping off the high dive and plunging into risky, revealing, and hopefully rewarding new territory.”

Related Dailywireless articles include; London: The Biggest Small Network in the World, Tweet-driven London Eye Lightshow, The Social Olympics, Robot Olympic Cameras, HTC: Olympic Torchbearer, London Olympics: 100 Days, NBC Partners with YouTube for Olympics, The 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Mobile Olympics: Better Than Anything, Producing Olympic Multi-Media, Social Olympics, 2008 Summer Olympics, 2006 Olympics Unwired, 2004 Olympics, and 2004 Olympic News Feed

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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