News Release

Cisco IP Video Technology to Enable Groundbreaking NBC Coverage of Beijing Olympic Games

Powered by Cisco, NBC to Provide Olympic Experience Anywhere, Anyplace, Anytime to Multiple Delivery Platforms
Aug 06, 2008

SAN JOSE, Calif. - August 6, 2008 - Cisco announced today it has been selected to provide Internet Protocol (IP) video network infrastructure and video-encoding solutions to NBC during the network's coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Aug. 8-24. Cisco's IP video infrastructure will enable NBC personnel in New York and Los Angeles to edit video as it is captured in Beijing and deliver it to three screens: TV, PC and smartphone.

Described as one of the most demanding network environments in the world, the groundbreaking trans-ocean network powered by Cisco will enable the transfer of gigabyte-sized files between Beijing, New York and Los Angeles. In previous Olympics, NBC staff had to work from videotapes to add graphics and captions to event shots. In one of the single most ambitious media projects in history, NBC will present more than 3,600 hours of broadcast coverage during the 17-day event. It would be impossible to use a tape library to replicate enough video copies for use at eight different networks as well as Using a file-based workflow for shot selection, the network can select shots and distribute them to affiliates even before an event is finished.

"With the Cisco network solution, we've achieved the Holy Grail of digital video, which is the ability to perform shot selections on low-resolution files and extract high-resolution material from those files even as they are being recorded. That is a huge accomplishment," said Craig Lau, vice president for Information Technology, NBC Olympics. "Cisco is a trusted partner, and in the demanding IT environment of the Olympic Games, we depend on trusted relationships. We have absolute deadlines for when Olympics coverage begins and ends. Cisco technologies help us exceed expectations and meet our timetables in an unforgiving environment."

Viewers of NBC's coverage of the Beijing Olympic Games will be able to use their PCs and laptops to access 2,200 hours of video that they can play back on demand, as well as 3,000 hours of highlights, rewinds, encores and scoring results. Individuals will also be able to watch video and view results on their smartphones.

"We are making broadcast history, executing the creation, management and distribution of digital video in a way that's never been achieved before," said Tony Bates, senior vice president and general manager, Cisco Service Provider Group. "We are entering the visual-networking era where video changes everything, especially the way people connect with the Olympic Games. The Olympics is all about the experience. The next best thing to being in Beijing is to be able to see the event coverage. This year, not only are thousands of hours of Olympic coverage being transmitted in real time, but Cisco's IP video network and encoding technologies are also giving people the ability to access hundreds of event videos on demand using their PCs, laptops and mobile devices for an unprecedented Olympic experience anywhere, anyplace, anytime."

Through the comprehensive Cisco IP video network infrastructure and video-encoding solutions, NBC was able to address the following technical challenges:

  • Creating a high-bandwidth, high-performance connection between Beijing and NBC studios in New York and Los Angeles to give shot selectors and editors in the United States the ability to edit video as it is being captured in Beijing.
  • Providing the quality of service (QoS) required to assign priority to real-time Olympic Games video footage over the trans-ocean network
  • Encoding and transmitting low-resolution (low-res) video from Olympic venues for broadband viewing. Low-res video uses far less bandwidth, which enables NBC to provide Internet coverage of more Olympic sports.
  • Using a single, converged IP infrastructure for a wide spectrum of services ranging from the video delivery to data-intensive logistics applications.

About NBC Olympics

NBC, "America's Olympic Network," owns the exclusive U.S. media rights to the Olympic Games, television's most powerful property, through 2012, which includes Beijing in 2008, Vancouver in 2010 and London in 2012. From August 8-24, 2008 NBC Universal will present an unprecedented 3,600 hours of coverage, highlighted by NBC in primetime with live swimming, gymnastics and beach volleyball. In August 2004, 203 million viewers watched s the networks of NBC Universal-NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, USA, Bravo, Telemundo, and NBC's HD affiliates-offered a then record 1,210 hours of Olympic coverage from Athens. For additional information, go to, a year-round destination for fans of Olympic sports, featuring news, Beijing previews, athlete features, expert blogs, photos, Olympic video from the NBC archives and social tools enabling users to build communities around their favorite sports, post comments and blogs.