Beijing Olympics to Be 100 Percent HD

Oct 26, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Though the Olympics have aired certain games in high definition for several years, the 2008 games in Beijing will represent the first time the Olympics will be shot and broadcast entirely in HD.
The network’s go-rounds with HD Olympics coverage in Salt Lake City and Athens were “boutique” offerings, “not at all meant to circumvent the main coverage,” said David Neal, executive producer of NBC Sports and executive VP of NBC Olympics. “The business has really taken off in the past couple years. Between 2004 and now, the difference between the penetration and availability is a quantum increase.”
During the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, NBC offered only seven events in HD—five out of the 15 sports plus the opening and closing ceremonies. The broadcaster struck a deal for those games with its 32 digital affiliates, which covered 42 percent of the country and Mark Cuban’s HDNet to televise the games, making NBC the second Olympics rights holder worldwide to provide HD coverage. (Japan’s NHK was first, during the 1992 Barcelona Games.)
While the arrangement made NBC the first American broadcaster to offer HD ski jumping, the network still had to shoot two separate feeds-one in HD and another for standard-definition viewing.
By Athens in 2004, NBC had 124 affiliates on board, with the potential to reach 86 percent of the country with HD programming. HD coverage of swimming, diving, gymnastics, track and field, soccer and basketball totaled 399 hours. But again, NBC had to produce an entirely different broadcast for HD viewers.
Two years later, in Turin, Italy, in collaboration with the host broadcaster, NBC and Universal HD offered seven sports—figure skating, long- and short-track speed skating, ski jumping, freestyle aerials and moguls, and hockey—simulcast in SD and HD for the first time, featuring the same announcers and graphics.
Finally, completing the journey begun with its first HD Olympic venture, NBC will offer all of its coverage of the 2008 Summer Games from Beijing in HD. The host broadcaster, Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Co., is set up to capture every sport in the format.
Universal HD will also pull Olympic duty again in 2008, simulcasting much of the SD cable coverage being shown on MSNBC, CNBC and USA.
This article is part of TVWeek.com’s High Definition newsletter, a weekly source of breaking HD news.


  1. Whilst the Olympics will be shot in HD what is the preferred resolution 1080p 24,25,30 1080i or 720p 25 or 50.
    Your thoughts please.

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