The home front: NBC Olympics transmission settles into new Stamford home
The Sochi 2014 Games are a milestone Olympics for NBC Sports Group, marking the first in its sparkling new production facility in Stamford, CT. That includes a brand-new transmission infrastructure that has made exchanging feeds with the IOC in Sochi smoother than ever.
Forty video feeds come in from Russia, with approximately 14 feeds going back. Some are very high-quality JPEG-2000 feeds through AT&T circuits, while others may be IP-based.
It’s not nearly the size and scope that a Summer Olympics typically offers, but, for Tim Canary, VP, engineering, NBC Sports Group, this year’s workflow is a major improvement from London’s operation, which was run out of 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. This marks the first Olympics that all routers are in Stamford.
“We were spread vertically across floors; here, we’re spread out flat and horizontally, which is so much easier to work,” says Canary. “I’ll take contiguous floor space as opposed to elevators and stairs. Plus, everything here is just more dedicated to sports.”
NBC Sports Group has numerous transmission points throughout the country, including Stamford; 30 Rock; Denver; Burbank, CA; and Telemundo in Hialeah, FL. All signals coming from and going to Russia are transmitted over two STM-64 fiber pipes, the AT&T fiber infrastructure monitored by AT&T 24/7 for the duration of the Olympics. According to Canary, satellite uplink is always up for backup but will be used only in emergency situations.
Via the RTS Adam intercom system, NBC personnel in Stamford can talk back to the IBC or the event venues. There are partylines that broadcasters share, and some that are directly point-to-point.
Canary says a major difference is that NBC usually does 50-Hz productions in the host country and all–60-Hz productions back in the U.S. For Sochi, nearly everything being done in Stamford is 50 Hz, which required Canary to swing over the three control rooms in use over to 50 Hz.
Simultaneously, other studio sets and control rooms for other projects, including the Barclays Premier League and early preps for NASCAR original programming, remain at 60 Hz.