The Associated Press is signing up television stations for its online Olympics news service for the 2004 Olympic Games starting later this month.
AP Summer Games Online is designed to be a so-called “turnkey” solution for TV stations and newspaper Web sites to offer news, photos, schedules, results and interactive content, or any combination thereof, online.
The service, which can be customized to match the look and feel of each station’s site, was first introduced last month, and so far AP has signed up Belo’s four NBC stations for the service, said Mark Cardwell, executive producer for the digital group at AP. He expects a flurry of stations to sign up as the Olympics draw closer.
Mr. Hart anticipates one of the key areas of interest in the service will be its 40 different flash animations that explain the various Olympics sports. “It makes it easier to understand some of these sports,” he said. The animations will even cover sports that are widely understood, like swimming, but will demonstrate how each different stroke is done as an animated figure swims across the screen. The cycling animations will explain how the equipment works and how different riders compete, he said.
The package includes an interactive component that shows the torch’s path around the world. Finally, the service features results for all the different sports, the medal standings and photo galleries. The AP information is designed to be incorporated into whatever stations are already planning for their Olympics coverage online, Mr. Hart said.
He added that AP’s goal is not to compete with NBC’s online coverage. But given that many stations are doing double time to cover the Olympics, the political conventions and the election, they may not have the resources to keep up with the Olympics, he said.
NBC emphasized that its site at www.nbcolympics.com, and the local station sites that affiliates can build from that, will be the only online destinations with real-time results and actual competition video. NBC said it expects 750 million page views of its site in August and 20 million unique visitors, a 330 percent increase over the network’s coverage of the 2000 Games.
The site contains about 8,000 pages and will include about 250 exclusive video highlights during the Games. The AP service is designed to be “modular,” so stations can
pick and choose parts of the service. “If [the station] is interested in cycling you can see what the latest, best pictures are for cycling,” Mr. Hart said. As an example, an NBC station in Texas might want to focus on gymnastics results because many gymnasts are from Texas.
The service is also hosted by AP, which means it resides on AP’s servers rather than on the stations’. “It’s transparent to the user that it’s being served from AP. We do all the work,” he said.
The service also includes pre-event coverage from AP’s team of reporters now in Athens, Greece, such as preview stories and multimedia packages on security and qualifying rounds. News, headlines and event coverage will be on tap once the Games start.
WFLA Installs ENPS in Converged Newsroom
Media General plans to use the ENPS news production system from the Associated Press at the group’s NBC station WFLA-TV in Tampa, Fla. The installation, starting this month, is noteworthy because the newsroom is a so-called “converged newsroom,” since it houses both TV journalists from WFLA and print journalists from the Tampa Tribune.
On the Move
Fox-owned WTXF-TV in Philadelphia said Holly Gauntt has joined as VP and news director. She’ll start Aug. 9. She hails from Fox-owned WTTG-TV in Washington, where she served as assistant news director.
At Houston’s Fox-owned KRIV-TV, Jan Jeffcoat has been named the weekday co-anchor of the morning news from 5-9 a.m. She joins from Jefferson-Pilot-owned CBS affiliate WBTV in Charlotte, N.C., where she co-anchors the weekday morning and noon newscasts.
NBC affiliate WDIV-TV in Detroit has hired Neil Goldstein as its VP news. He joins from New York, where he served as VP, news, at Fox-owned WNYW-TV and UPN station WWOR-TV. He’ll start Aug. 23. He replaces Deborah Collura, who was promoted to VP news for Post-Newsweek Stations.