NBC’s Olympics - The Technology Behind The Triumphs

NBC’s Olympics – The Technology Behind The Triumphs

With 180 commentators covering over 7000 hrs of footage, NBC’s coverage of the Tokyo Olympics was the largest of any media organization. While relying somewhat on the Olympic Broadcasting Service, NBC also provided a lot of its own infrastructure and team, including over 3000 employees across the world, and dozens of broadcast booths both in Tokyo and their American base in Stamford, Connecticut. 

NBC's Tokyo Live Set


The Raw Numbers

NBC’s 2021 effort included:

  • 8,000: Number of miles that the “Rings Across America” marketing activation will drive across the country
  • 7,000: Total programming hours across NBCUniversal
  • 6,745: Miles between Stamford, Conn., and Tokyo, Japan
  • 5,500+: Hours of coverage across NBC Sports Digital platforms (NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app)
  • 1964: Year that marked NBC’s first-ever coverage of an Olympic Games — for the Tokyo Olympics
  • 1,800: Approximate number of domestic-based NBC Olympics employees
  • 1,600: Approximate number of NBC Olympics employees on-site in Tokyo
  • 180: Number of commentators on NBC Olympics’ talent roster
  • 41: Number of sports that will be contested in Tokyo, comprising 339 medal events
  • 28: Broadcast booths located at NBC Sports’ International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn.
  • 17: Consecutive nights of primetime coverage on the NBC broadcast network
  • 13: Number of hours Tokyo is ahead of the U.S. Eastern time zone
  • 4: Production trucks based at NBC Sports’ International Broadcast Center

NBC's Tokyo Live Production Room


The Technology Behind The Visuals

It may be surprising to learn, but the technology used to film NBC’s Olympics coverage has the same brand logos you’d see on our own camera equipment. NBC partnered with a number of camera companies but relied heavily on Sony for its state-of-the-art 4K digital cameras that could stream directly to their base at the press center. Over a hundred Sony cameras were used throughout the weeks, and were complemented by thousands of sony monitors for viewing at events, in the broadcast center, and back in America.

Of course, while enjoying the best in digital video capturing from Sony, NBC also recognized that the best lenses for their cameras may not come from the same company. Instead, they reached out to Canon, who supplied them with next-generation UHD lenses, the only of their kind to allow for long-zoom fieldwork.

At Decibel Event Management, we have yet to have the opportunity to implement underwater cameras or dozens of concurrent 4K systems. However, we are strong believers in ensuring the technology we use is right for the task at hand. With a large inventory of equipment and trusted rental partners we can rely on for unique projects, we always bring the best event technology – including sound, video, and lighting for your needs.

Now That’s A Lot of Data!

NBC’s main broadcast center in Stamford is the primary center for editing and production before much of the Olympics coverage went to air, which required dozens of hours of high-definition video to be sent across the globe every day. Imagine downloading all of Netflix every day and you wouldn’t get close to the data they moved. For this, NBC relied on Signiant intelligent file transfer software for low latency transfer. 

With more audiences tuning in online than any Olympics before it, NBC partnered with Amagi to make streaming possible through NBCOlympics.com. Amagi also provided help to seamlessly connect this new site with Peacock streaming services and normal broadcast services.

While your events will not *likely* need the sort of data streaming that the Olympics do, it is within your reach to have online viewers partake in the experience as well. Here at Decibel Event Management, we are experts at combining live and online experiences, and develop bespoke platforms to showcase your speakers both in real-time and on-demand. To learn more about how we do it, check out how we approached the 2020 National Book Festival as it went online-only. 

NBC's Tokyo Live Production Room

Source: Twitter/sportsvideo

The Olympics would be impossible to organize, except…

There are some incredible technological solutions when it comes to organizing massive events. For NBC, the solution came in the form of Xytech’s ScheduALL. Having worked with NBC for the last eight Olympics, they knew the system would work perfectly to manage video router assignments and satellite uplink scheduling, pass information to downstream systems, and facilitate on-air coverage for each feed. 

Without strong management systems and experienced leadership, organizing with hundreds of employees, event staff, and vendors would be impossible. Like NBC, we believe in tailored solutions. Decibel Event Management has long perfected our own management systems to ensure the smooth running of events large and small.

NBC’s coverage of the Tokyo Olympics may end up in the record books. With a global pandemic and greater support from Olympic Broadcasting Services, over three hundred events were watched by more online viewers than any previous sporting event ever. While your event may not be of the same scale in terms of cameras, or viewers, that doesn’t mean you can’t expect the same level of quality in film, production, or organization. By having the same strong belief in quality technology and event management systems that NBC had for the Olympics, Decibel Event Management can offer you the same quality of coverage for your events.