Systems Integration For Beijing Olympics’ International Broadcast Centre

THE CUSTOMERS

BBC Sport

BBC Sport covers a range of high profile sporting events, broadcast on the BBC’s television channels, as well as on BBC Radio, and online. Holder of exclusive terrestrial rights to show both the Summer & Winter Olympic Games, the UK’s public broadcaster has captured and transmitted live footage of every Summer Olympics since 1960.

Siemens IT Solutions Services provides information technology (IT) solutions. The company specialises in consulting, systems integration, software engineering, & IT infrastructure management.

THE PROJECT

Beijing 2008, the Summer Olympic Games of that year, was held August 8-24 and saw a total of 10,942 athletes from 28 different sporting codes compete across 302 separate events at multiple venues.

During the run-up to this hotly anticipated Olympics, technology project managers Siemens IT Solutions Services selected broadcast solutions specialist Gravity Media – then branded Gearhouse Broadcast – to ensure all its core objectives were met.

Specifically, the challenge was to provide BBC Sport with systems integration of the BBC’s International Broadcast Centre (IBC), which was located within the main Olympic IBC in Beijing.

Additionally, Siemens & BBC Sport relied upon Gravity Media to produce a bespoke flyaway solution suitable for its track and field coverage.

THE APPROACH

August 2008 saw all eyes on China for 17 action-packed days, as the Olympic Games were beamed to television screens across the globe.

Multiple broadcasters were tasked with capturing and delivering the action live as it happened, to a combined worldwide audience of billions. It was crucial for well-respected broadcasters like BBC Sport, to ensure high-end production values were met and seamless, faultless coverage was achieved.

Gravity Media, with its focus on reliability, flexibility, cost-effectiveness & innovation, as well as its access to the very in latest in broadcast technologies, made use of the vast experience of its team when tackling this important project.

The BBC’s IBC area covered around 5000 square feet and housed a control room for the main HD production, interactive internet and mobile-phone services. There was a large audio control room and a sub audio control room, from where all audio and communications were controlled.

The control rooms were supported by 18 edit rooms, production offices and two big servers, all connected to the venues and the BOB EVS server.

OUTCOME

A record breaking 4.7 billion viewers worldwide were estimated to have tuned in to television coverage of Beijing’s Olympic Games at some point during the 17 days.

Advancements made in so-called “new media” since the Athens Olympics four years prior upped audience expectations of broadcast content, which was now expected to be viewable on social media, mobile web, & catch-up services like BBC’s iPlayer.

Speaking in 2008, BBC Sport's Head of Major Events Dave Gordon noted that Beijing presented a “much more complex” challenge for those working behind the scenes. "At any one time there could be up to six TV channels going, different types of services on radio, clips to look at on the website, action to download onto iPlayer, clips possibly to mobiles – it's very much a 24/7 Olympics.”

Gravity Media’s experienced team was able to identify the best, most innovative ways to ensure every requirement of this complex project was met, to budget.

The BBC screened 300 hours of footage across the BBC1 & BBC2 channels - double that of the previous Games. In addition, 2,450 hours featured on BBCi, whilst there was also more online content and more live coverage screened on BBC’s HD channel.