2018 Winter Olympics to be Broadcast in 4K HDR and Virtual Reality

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

In two weeks, the world will come together in PyeongChang, South Korea for the XXIII Winter Olympic Games, and NBC will show us all the action with over 1800 hours of continuous coverage across five networks, as well as streaming online.   And viewers will not only be able to enjoy the games live this time around, but in 4K HDR and Virtual Reality.

“The Olympics has always been a platform for the introduction of new broadcast technology,” said Gary Zenkel, President, NBC Olympics. “The availability of 4K High Dynamic Range coverage of Olympic ceremonies and competitions through our participating multi-channel distribution partners, will be a great showcase for this emerging advancement in the quality of televised sports coverage in the United States.”

Image Credit – NBC Sports

Traditionally, NBC broadcasts the feed provided by provided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Olympic Broadcast Services with support by Japan’s NHK, which will also be broadcasting the 2020 games in 8K two years from now in Tokyo.

“This is yet another first at an Olympic Games, and OBS is proud to continually provide and facilitate the very latest technology to its broadcast partners,” said Yiannis Exarchos, CEO of Olympic Broadcasting Services. “The performances of the best athletes in the World deserve to be captured with the best broadcast technology available.”

Events can be seen live on NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC andUSA networks, which usually air content in 1080i. This year, however, represents a huge shift as the broadcaster will showcase the games in ultra high definition. NBC will also stream the games through the NBC Sports app to game consoles, streaming media boxes, and mobile devices. Coverage won’t be in HDR for every single event, mind you, but will be featured in the opening and closing ceremonies, hockey, figure skating, ski jumping, and snowboarding. There full schedule of coverage can be found here.

In addition, the broadcaster will also stream over 50 hours of the games in virtual reality. The content will be delivered to pay TV customers and users must log in with their subscription credentials to be able to stream the content live. NBC delivered nearly twice as much VR coverage during the 2016 Summer Games in Rio just four years ago, but most of that was on tape delay. This time around, all coverage, whether in 4K HDR broadcast or through virtual reality will be available live, as it happens (though some events will be delayed).

VR Volleyball coverage in 2016. Image credit – VRScout

The VR stream is being powered by Intel True VR technology, and will be featured during every day of the two week athletic event (save February 18) and will highlight events such as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, alpine skiing, curling, snowboarding, skeleton, figure skating, short track, ski jumping, ice hockey, big air and events. There will also be behind the scenes content that has been captured into the run-up to the games, highlighting preparation and athletic training.

The coverage will be imaged using which will use multiple camera arrays to create a 360 degree environment for users to experience. Users will be able to enjoy the games through a wide range of VR platforms provided by Samsung, Google, Windows, as well as Android and iOS mobile devices through NBC Sports VR app. Even Google Cardboard fans can use their mobile phones to enjoy the action.  You can find NBC’s VR schedule of events here.

This is where VR gets exciting for me. Not all of us can travel overseas to enjoy an international spectacle like the Winter Games, and thanks to virtual reality and 360 video, it’s the next best thing to being there.

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About James DeRuvo 179 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

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