The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics start tonight, notes the Washington Post. But if you’re among the 9 percent of U.S. households who have broadband but don’t subscribe to paid television, it will be nearly impossible to (legally) watch the games online this year.
That’s because while NBC is streaming all of the events live online, full access to the livestream will only be available to paying cable subscribers. NBC gives subscribers a 30-minute “free pass” to Olympics video before they are asked to verify that they are paying customers.
Since the acquisition of NBCUniversal by Comcast in January 2011, NBCUniversal owns 19 broadcast/cable networks and more than 60 websites.
C/Net explains how to stream the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. To get started visit the NBC Olympics Web site and verify that you are an existing subscriber by entering your username and password. Service providers that have partnered with NBC include Xfinity, Time Warner Cable, Direct TV, Dish, Verizon FIOS, COX, Charter, AT&T U-verse, Optimum, Suddenlink, Mediacom, Cable One, Brighthouse and RCN, among others. But you CAN bypass region blocks in less than a minute, for free, using a proxy, explains Digital Trends.
NBC paid $4.38 billion to the International Olympics Committee (IOC) in 2011 for the exclusive broadcasting privilege in the U.S. through 2020, so cord-cutters don’t have a lot of options. NBCUniversal paid $775 million for the media rights to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but is all but certain to recoup the cost of its original investment.
NBC Sports will live-stream every event of the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The Opening Ceremony on Feb. 7, however, will be reserved for primetime.
Here’s the full list of U.S. Sochi Athletes, or the entire list of tweeting competitors from around the globe.
Aggregators and social media include Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Flickr, Mashable, Blog Runner, TechMeme and Yahoo. C/Net reviews the top apps, while The Verge and Engadget have Olympic stories for nerds. The NY Times Firehose has a real-time live stream of photos. AdWeek has the numbers.
Projection-mapping on robotically controlled moving surfaces is part of the tool kit.
MegaFon’s pavilion features photo booths that scan faces then display them on the side of their Olympic pavilion using 10,000 actuators that move to produce a 3D view. Five pictures are taken of each face. For display, each “pin” actuator can be extended up to two meters.
Broadcom, Elemental and NTV-Plus designed and deployed an end-to-end 4K HEVC workflow using Broadcom-enabled real-time decoders (using the BCM7445 UHD chip), Elemental Live video encoders, NTV-Plus satellite link and Sony PMW-F55 4K cameras. SportsVideo.org has more Olympic broadcasting news.
NBC will endeavor to stream over 1,000 hours of live Olympic action on NBCOlympics.com, boosting its streaming capacity with partners like Adobe, Microsoft and Akamai. NBC will use Windows Azure Media Services, hosted in Microsoft’s datacenters, to publish and stream more than 50 live high-definition streams and on demand content.
NBC Sports is providing two mobile/tablet apps with live streaming content and up-to-the-minute news. An NBC Sports Live Extra app and a new NBC Olympics Highlights and Results app, both enabled by Adobe. In addition, customers can access digital-only original programming, including Gold Zone and Olympic Ice, which are exclusive video channels on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports Live Extra apps.
Now in its fourth Olympics after debuting at the 2008 Beijing Games, NBCU’s Billion Dollar Lab will measure consumption of Sochi Olympics video content via TV, computer, mobile, and tablet in hopes of reaping insight into the everyday video-consuming habits of the average Joe.
The Gorki Media Center houses the International Broadcasting Center, which will serve as the main broadcast hub for the Games. It is expected to host more than 2,000 media representatives worldwide and more than 6,000 television and radio broadcasters from around 70 countries.
The Olympic Broadcasting Service supplies neutral pool video to rights-holders worldwide.
NBC is using mobile broadcasting facilities from NEP, and Avid’s Interplay Media Asset Management system. About 288 TB of Avid Media Grid storage and 85 TB of EVS storage is on-site at NBC’s IBC operations, and more than 5.5 PB of archived material is in Stamford, CT.
NBC’s Server and media-asset–management (MAM) technologies moves files back and forth across the Atlantic via Level 3 circuits. NBC will use NSS-7 to link directly from venues to the IBC.
A portion of the capacity provides emergency backup to North America over the SES NSS-7 satellite, if necessary. The Georgia-Russia Submarine Fibre links the Sochi to Europe and onwards to Iran, Central Asia and East Asia.
Sony is supplying NBC more than 70 Sony HD studio and portable field cameras, using the XDCAM, HDC, HSC and HXC-100 models for 1080p HD coverage as well as its F55 4K camera to capture footage at various venues.
Panasonic will record the opening ceremony in 4K and is supplying nearly 7,000 security cameras among other gear.
Rossiya 1 is the host broadcaster in Russia. Russia’s ANO Sports Broadcasting (Panorama) production company is using four 16-camera OB vans and seven ENG vehicles. Their Moscow Logging System, based in Moscow, is used for logging and remote editing. Russian telco Rostelecom will deliver feeds from Sochi to AT&T, which is supplying 55 HD feeds to the U.S. and 14 HD feeds back to Sochi from the U.S.
Rostelecom has switched on its LTE network in Sochi. The state-backed operator has deployed around 40 LTE base stations in the mountain range and coastal clusters using 791-820 МHz, 821-862 МHz, 2530-2620 МHz and 2650-2690 МHz basestations. During the Opening ceremony, MegaFon uploaded and downloaded more than 400 Gb in their 2G/3G/4G network. MegaFon’s LTE covers 50 regions of the country, about 37% of Russia’s population. Megafon’s Alisher Usmanov is Russia’s richest man, with a fortune estimated at $17.6 billion.
Russia was called a virtual “mafia state” by WikiLeaks cables, although fraud and corruption is not a foreign concept for U.S. defense contractors, either.
MegaFon and Rostelecom have exclusive LTE rights in Sochi until December 31, 2016.
VimpelCom (Beeline) and Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) also have begun LTE coverage across Russia.
Where Sochi appears to have dropped the ball is consumer access to DAS & WiFi. Vancouver (2010) and London (2012) seemed more progressive by comparison. iOS 7 supports both 802.11u and Hotspot 2.0 as does Android. That allows the SIM card on a smartphone to be used on different Wi-Fi networks. Perhaps jurisdictional disputes between spy agencies effectively killed it at Sochi.
Avaya’s network will serve 30,000 athletes, administrators and staff, media, IOC officials, and volunteers with data, voice, video, and full Internet access. There will be a total of 2,500 access points just for the Olympic family, compared to 300 in Vancouver. There will be one WiFi network for the athletes, two for media (one free, one paid), one for Olympics staff, and one for dignitaries. With some 8,000 athletes and 5,500 broadcasters registered, it’s said to be the largest guest network in the world.
The Federal Security Service provides the SORM-1 system which captures telephone and mobile phone communications, SORM-2 which intercepts Internet traffic, and SORM-3 which provides long-term storage of all information and data on subscribers, including actual recordings and locations.
The Sochi International Airport has 550 HD video surveillance cameras and 3D facial recognition from Broadway 3D. A network of Terrestrial Trunked Radios with 100 user groups and capacity of 10,000 subscribers provides security.
2014 Winter Olympics broadcasters include the BBC, CBC, CTV, Sky News, France 24, Al Jazeera, TeleSUR, Foxtel, Telefónica, European Broadcasting Union, Cable TV Hong Kong, NHK, All-Russian State Television, Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, and others. Personal live streams are available from Ustream, Justin.tv, LiveStream and others. Liquid Image has an inexpensive LTE-enabled streaming sports camera.
Color TV came to the Olympics in 1964, 1080p HD in 2008, and 3D in 2012. This year Ultra HD will be recorded, a first for the Winter Games.
It’s a social Olympics now. Some 1.4 billion people now own a smartphone, 22 per cent of world’s population. The IOC will have a tough time containing cloud computing, 2 billion smartphones and LTE-enabled video at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
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