Throughout the Olympics, every sport has been streamed live, in HD, across the internet. And not just on the BBC’s website – globally, Olympic broadcasters have been offering the streams, from Terra in South America, to CTV in Canada, to Francesport in… yeah.
With demand for live online video higher than ever, delivering so much content in high definition is an incredible feat. But the broadcasters aren’t working alone; they’re all using a company called deltatre to deliver the experience (the interactive players, the data, the timelines, the overlayed news etc) and another company called Akamai to deliver the streams. So let’s hold back on the praise for the BBC; the really impressive stuff has come from deltatre.
Deltatre’s interactive player allows for an immersive experience. The livestream can be broken up into events, and can be freely controlled, making it possible to pick out specific clips or goals before returning to live. With some extra work, these clips can then be shared on social networks.
Data abounds too, and has been well integrated. The basic stuff is to be expected; medal tables, scores, time remaining in the match. A live medal table is also not that impressive, but more of a nice touch to pull out within the player. However, information on the athletes on screen, detailed stats on the event in play, and recommended video and bulletins from other events take things up a level.
Further data has been used to construct in-depth schedules and rankings for all events.
It all looks and sounds very impressive, but how does the investment in data and slick interactive players translate? Deltatre claim that an average viewing session across their different partner sites varies between 8 and 30 minutes. They also asserted that 20-30% of viewers were mobile or tablet, thanks to adaptive streaming (where the quality of the video adjust according to the quality of your connection), and responsive design (the page layout changing depending on your browser type).
Interestingly, the average time spent viewing on desktops and laptop browsers, matched that of mobile and table viewing times.
Olympic broadcasters also asserted that there was 0% cannibalisation of broadcast TV – which is obviously a concern if you’re going to offer all your content online, on demand. If anything, providing a conclusive online experience is supportive of broadcast tv, creating a more immersive experience for better numbers for both digital and broadcast, they said.
However, who uses all these features, and all this data? It’s nice to have, but the only people I’ve seen that care enough about medal tables in relation to gender, or the details of the greco-roman wrestling tournament, or career information about those on screen… are journalists. When developing new media products, I think we can get swept up in all the possibilities; often the best products are those that do fewer things better.
That said, I still think the Olympics has been a glimpse of TV’s future. What do you think? Comment or tweet @wannabehacks.
Photo courtesy of sualk61.
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look