Viasat fires up nine channels of Sochi coverage for rookie Olympics campaign
Viasat is making quite a splash in its first Olympics effort in Sochi, delivering the Games to Swedish viewers on a whopping nine HDTV channels and on its Viaplay streaming service. It’s no surprise Viasat is making a concerted effort to win over Swedish viewers, who have received free-to-air Olympics coverage from pubcaster Sveriges Television (SVT) for six decades and will now need to tune into Viasat’s pay-TV channels to get their Olympics fix.
“It is a very a big event in Sweden so we want to go all in. It’s been great so far,” says Viasat Technology Producer Mikael Krantz, referring not only to the production but also to Sweden’s nine cross-country medals thus far. “This is the first time Viasat has done the Olympics, and we want it to be special.”
One channel is Sochi, eight in Stockholm
In an effort to capture the on-site ambiance of the Games, Viasat is producing live coverage (6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily in Sweden) for its primary channel, TV3, out of a snug control room at the Sochi IBC. Meanwhile, content for the remaining eight channels (24/7 Olympics coverage on TV10 and additional coverage on seven Viasat OS cable channels), and the Viaplay service is being sent to its Stockholm Broadcast Centre for packaging and distribution.
“With [the high profile] of the Olympics and having our editorial and technical [teams for the TV3 production] on-site would bring a lot to the show,” says Krantz. “That is the thinking behind it, and up to now it has been great.”
Sweden is relying on redundant 10-GB fiber pipes to tie its IBC operations to Stockholm, feeding 12 video paths to Stockholm and receiving a single return path. In addition, Viasat has established a 300-Mbps Ethernet line for file transfer, allowing editors in Sochi to dip into Viasat’s entire library of content at home at any moment.
Viasat is also producing radio coverage from Sochi, for which it has allocated a 10-Mbps line to Stockholm.
Included in the 100-member team on-site are about 10 ENG teams, eight running on Sony XDCAM and two on Panasonic P2. A handful of Canon EOS-60 DSLRs are also making their way around the Sochi grounds.
Virtual studio a notch above the rest
Although dozens of broadcasters at the Sochi IBC are also using similar grand-scale file-based workflows and providing hundreds of hours of coverage, Viasat is aiming to set itself apart with its trio of studios in Sochi: at the Bolshoy and at the alpine and cross-country skiing venues.
Viasat is using Vizrt and StypeGrip 3D virtual-studio and augmented-reality technology to add virtual graphics to its studio shows with the added bonus of remote pan, tilt, and focus.
With the Vizrt virtual-studio software and [StypeGrip] tracking software for the camera and lens,” says Krantz, “We can pan and tilt with the crane and add virtual graphics to the screen that actually look real.”