NBC's Ambitious Olympics Coverage

Storage vendors Omneon and Isilon will handle a record 3,000 hours of hi-res and low-res video at the event.

NBC is busy putting the finishing touches on its near-round-the-clock coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games that debut Aug. 8, and IT storage will play a significant role in the success or failure of the effort.

Since the international event was first televised live by ABC in 1960 from Rome, no network has ever attempted to produce this much footage of an Olympiad.

When the Games host the closing ceremonies Aug. 24, the network will have broadcast just shy of 3,000 hours of swimming, track and field, gymnastics, volleyball, baseball, basketball, fencing, water polo, horseback riding, and numerous other competitions. About 25 percent of it will go "in the can" for archiving.
NBC's Beijing TV schedule, released July 8, includes about 2,900 hours of live TV coverage. That live coverage, broadcast over NBC and MSNBC, will exceed the total number of U.S. television hours-which now stands at 2,562, to be exact-for all previous summer Olympic Games combined.
About half of this expected footage will be shot in high-definition video. Consider that 96 hours of HD (4MB per second) footage comprises about 1 raw terabyte of storage capacity; that means about 11TB of storage will be necessary for HD alone.
The remainder of the footage will be shot in standard format (2MB per sec) to be distributed for Webcasts and handheld devices. That footage will take up somewhere around 6TB of storage.
Most of what will be filmed won't be thrown away during the event. Basically, NBC and its partners will be doing in Beijing what the big movie makers do every day in producing computer-generated films: file-based supercomputing, only with no special effects outside of many "intros" and "outros." The "special effects" will mostly be provided live, courtesy of the several thousand world-class athletes gathered in mainland China.
The network will be storing all that raw and edited digital footage in impressive storage data centers that include Isilon Systems and Omneon Video Networks hardware and software packages.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...