Big Blue TV, Anyone?

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-06-17 Print this article Print

In its own way, this is rapidly becoming a viable alternative viewing network, only a lot more portable than television. Big Blue TV, anyone?

"What most people don't realize is how complicated it is to stream all these various digital feeds to all the different platforms; plus, we do a backup stream for each of them," Kent said. "We can't afford to go down at any time, certainly. So this is where the cloud system becomes so valuable. Changes can be made very quickly on the fly, and the viewer notices nothing."

Can Quickly Make Fixes on the Fly

For example, Kent said, a NIC (network interface card) went dark during a key segment of a recent digicast, and IBM monitoring staff caught it immediately to reroute the feed through another server. No big deal. Making the changeover was simply a matter of dragging and dropping an icon on a screen from one place to another in the cloud setup. The new connection was made in a matter of merely a few (three or four) minutes.

In the old days of only a few years ago, that one operation alone might have taken a couple of hours or more to make all the connections, test and go live. "It's taken us a lot of time and effort to get to this level," Kent said, in a major understatement.

IBM's sports cloud has data centers located in three U.S. time zones: Mountain, Central and Eastern. They are accessed from all over the world for these events, as well as for many other non-television uses.

In putting these systems together in cooperation with Apple and Google for the iOS and Android apps, Kent said -- to the surprise of no one who knows how Apple operates -- that it had a much easier time adapting to Google's system than Apple's system.

Kent also said that in making fixes or upgrades to Big Blue€™s digicast software for the online appstore, it€™s much easier for IBM to work in the open-source Android world than it is the tightly guarded Apple environment.

The freely downloadable apps for iOS and Android are available now on the Apple and Android app stores.

New U.S. Open Website Now Online

For the 2012 event, IBM and the USGA also redesigned and launched an entirely new Website powered by IBM's cloud and featuring -- in addition to live-streaming video -- live scoring, interactive PlayTracker and access to Web and mobile applications. 

Why doesn't the USGA and IBM charge a bit and make a little money on the apps, instead of giving them away for free? Serious fans certainly wouldn't mind shelling out a few dollars to enjoy the convenience.

"We're collaborating with the USGA to connect fans to the U.S. Open, no matter where they are located," said Rick Singer, vice president of Client Executive Marketing for IBM, the official Information Technology partner of the USGA. "Our goal is to help golf fans feel like they're on the course and part of the action in every round -- from the first tee shot to the last putt on the 18th hole."

Editor's note: This story was updated to include new user engagement statistics for streaming video coverage of the U.S. Open.

Chris Preimesberger is eWEEK's Editor for Features and Analysis. Twitter: @editingwhiz


Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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