Just 2 years after a US broadcaster offered a hi-definition feed of its Olympics coverage, NBC is bulking up its HD payload for the ’04 Games. The Peacock successfully completed an inaugural run two years ago, collaborating with HDNet on its presentation of the Winter Olympics from Salt Lake City. This time NBC is doing all the heavy lifting itself, running a separate, delayed HD feed of the entire 17 days of competition, beginning Saturday. With Sony aboard as sponsor and main provider of broadcast gear, the network’s HD coverage will encompass the opening and closing ceremonies, and key swimming, diving, gymnastics, track and field events in between, as well as medal rounds of basketball and the men’s soccer gold medal final. The HD events will be looped in consecutive 8-hr segments, thrice daily, on a 24-hr delay for cable and satellite providers. While some hi-def buffs have expressed disappointment that the Athens games won’t be telecast in live HD, NBC Sports’ Cameron Blanchard suggests fans are lucky that the Peacock is able to offer an HD feed at all. "This was a last-minute addition, basically," Blanchard says. While she declines to specify on why NBC seemed to waver in its commitment to HD, Blanchard says the network merely had been "operating under the constraints of the host broadcaster," Athens Olympic Broadcasting. With just a handful of HD trucks, AOB only wired 5 Olympic venues for HD, although they are by all accounts the places where the most popular events are held. That said, NBC fully expects that all its coverage of the ’06 Winter Games in Torino, Italy, will be available via a single 1080i HD feed, which means hi-def viewers will hear the same broadcasting team as their SD counterparts. NBC cable nets providing additional coverage of the games, including MSNBC, CNBC, USA, Bravo and Telemundo, will not carry HD feeds, which will instead be beamed to NBC’s 124 HD affiliates, covering 86% of the country. While news reports suggest that Athens lacks the infrastructure to pull off a successful Olympiad, word from Greece is more or less upbeat. Michael Goldman, a code jockey who does contract work with NBC Olympics, says this is his 3rd go-around with the net. (He helped set up a trial 802.11b network at the ’00 Games in Sydney to see how wireless would work in a production environment.) Before departing for Athens, Goldman worried that preparation was going to be overwhelming. "In terms of tech, Greece is still pretty much a 3rd-world nation," Goldman says. "But I was pleasantly surprised. Things are running much smoother than I anticipated." Goldman credits the cooperative efforts of the AOB and Greece’s International Broadcast Center, but reserves prime kudos for the NBC team: "Some of the guys are on their 4th Games. They’re looking ahead to Torino; Athens hasn’t even begun yet. It’s the ultimate future-proof." Broadband Bits Ultra-wideband products soon will be available for consumer use with the FCC’s certification of Freescale Semiconductor’s "XS110" chipset. UWB allows consumers to create a home theater environment without cables and provides wireless HSD transmission from an array of digital devices. ABI Research predicts worldwide shipments of UWB-enabled devices could reach 315mln units by ’09. Freescale is the1st such company to get the nod from the FCC. — As part of an initiative to standardize interoperability, the SCTE Mon introduced 3 Digital Program Insertion projects. The new standards will regulate targeted ads and ad insertion operations. — Bright House Networks’ Detroit and Tampa divisions will deploy CSG Systems’ "Care Express" account management platform, which lets subs manage bills and activate new services online.

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