Live From Rio 2016: A CCTV Olympic First as Digital Team Makes the Trip

China’s public-broadcasting sports network, CCTV, is onsite at the Rio Games with a team of nearly 400 people creating 19 hours of content locally that is matched up with five hours of content created in Beijing. That double punch gives Chinese viewers 24/7 coverage of the Games on TV as well as content delivered via the CCTV app, thanks to a digital-content–creation team that is onsite at an Olympics for the first time ever.

Junhong Xue, CCTV Olympic head of technical operations, inside CCTV's studio.

CCTV’s Junhong Xue inside the broadcaster’s studio

“Normally, the new-media team would be in Beijing,” says Junhong Xue, head of Olympic technical operations, CCTV, “but, this year, they are here.”

CCTV has a main studio in the IBC as well as one in the Olympic Park. Getting those studios constructed was the first challenge for the Chinese national broadcaster, which used local workers for the build-out.

“That delayed our plan and was the first difficulty we had,” says Xue. “Another one is the long distance for our transmission circuits. We have two STM4 circuits and one STM1 circuit, and, because of the long distance to China, we have had some problems with the transmission. I have heard that the Koreans have also had issues.”

CCTV is relying on the OBS VandA+ package of 55 video and audio signals to cut a complete ready-to-air program, which is then sent to Beijing for airing. There are also editors onsite editing feature stories and highlight packages.

The CCTV control room in Rio for CCTV-5, the Chinese national broadcaster's sports channel.

The CCTV control room in Rio for CCTV-5, the Chinese national broadcaster’s sports channel

The next three Olympic Games will be much closer to China: Korea will host the 2018 Winter Games, Tokyo the 2020 Summer Games, and Beijing the 2022 Winter Games. The Asia locales also will put coverage much more in line with China’s time zone (it has only one, despite its massive size) and give CCTV a chance to maximize production value.

“In Sochi, we had less than 200 people, and we expect to have a larger amount of people in Korea than we did in Sochi,” says Xue. “The space we will use is the same size as we have here in Rio.”

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