The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be the most tech-savvy to date, with huge global companies such as Google and Microsoft to name but a few announcing their involvement in the games.
As the Olympic cauldron was lit on Friday in Brazil, millions of viewers will be tuning in throughout the coming weeks to watch more than 10,000 athletes compete in over 300 events in 42 different sports. The viewing numbers for the Olympics is one only to be rivalled so far by the World Cup, with an average primetime viewership of 21.4 million for the Sochi games alone.
Microsoft Azure are set to provide the cloud encoding and hosting for the Olympic games for the second time. They will be offering live and on-demand streaming services for NBCUniversal and NBCOlympics.com’s 4,500 hours of online content, making is easier than ever for viewers to find relevant content and recommendations at the touch of a button, on any device.
“People will have the flexibility to watch whatever event they want at their own convenience, on their devices as well as their connected TVs”, Sirivara said, such as table tennis and specific gymnastics events.
Despite Rio presenting a challenge to live streaming – with over three times the number of events that were held at the Sochi games, and with the time zone only being an hour behind Eastern time, it will very likely produce a higher level of U.S. viewers. However, Microsoft have said that “the cloud is ready for Olympic-scale events”.
“The other big trend and difference between Sochi and Rio is that beyond mobile devices and tablets, we’re also seeing connected TVs,” Sirivara said. “NBC wants to deliver the highest quality video possible, especially because these sticks are often connected to the biggest TVs in the home”. Because of this, Azure will increase its resolution to 1080p for TV platforms.
In addition to this, Google have also got their brand all over the Olympics:
Google will be adding event schedules, medal counts, and athlete information in its Search function. They will also be allowing its users to get results and view TV schedules in more than 30 countries, and watch official broadcasters’ event highlights on YouTube in more than 60 countries. Users of the Google app on Android and iOS can get automatic updates of top event and medal wins.
The streets of Rio and the freshly built Olympic venues are now available for viewers to virtually explore on Google Maps, along with 360-degree panoramas using Street View. Google also partnered with eight of Rio’s top cultural institutions to create an interactive online collection of the city’s famous art exhibits and landmarks.
It’s great to see technology taking a front seat at the Olympic Games, it has never been so easy to watch the events and take part in the celebrations!