NBC streamed 4.4 million hours of Olympic video

Posted by Emory Kale

The company that killed, nay, murdered, Law & Order, makes kissy face with Microsoft and Silverlight.

I am ashamed to have to write this up because, I am disgusted by NBC's decision to cancel Law & Order at the end of its 20th season. One more and the show would have beaten Gunsmoke. Would it have killed you Zucker to have kept it on for one more season, you heartless Conan-hating bastard?!

I am sorry. I am very upset by all of this.

Anyhow, on to better and brighter and things. The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver gave NBC 4,485 hours of events in HD that were delivered via IIS (Internet Information Service) Smooth Streaming to a Microsoft Silverlight video play for the enjoyment of 15.8 million unique visitors.

The whole process was an orgy of nerdy, unhip companies coming together to suck up to the Jay Leno of computing, Microsoft, in support of stuff that was happening in Canada, in the snow and ice, and being broadcast by the network that gives you the crappiest show on television, The Marriage Ref.

You can read the case study here. To be fair, it is quite interesting, despite my hatred of all things NBC, other than 30 Rock and Community. I wish that Microsoft was less self-conscious about this sort of thing. If Apple did this case study, which it would never do, it would be a 2 minute QuickTime video starring two rappers, a burlesque queen, and someone, always somemone, in khakis.

Among the highlights on the technology front: avertising technology. Deltatre, out of Torino, Italy, built a CMS with tools that allowed NBC to inset ads into live and on-demand streams very precisely and to change the ads based on consumption and fulfillment. Most interesting because of the ability to deliver ads into live streams. For the Summer Olympics from Beijing, the ad system consisted of a preroll ad in conjunction with a companion ad, and that was it.

In addition, NBC also used the Silverlight Rough Cut Editor built by Southworks. The production crew could place markers quickly in to feeds to separate out highlights, and deliver the list of start-stop points like a playlist. So, as a stream began, editors could begin to immediately mark the highlights for delivery while the video was in progress.

Apparently, the Olympics were never subjected to the blue screen of death so, everyone is happy. Except people who love Law & Order.