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NBC-owned stations step up Sochi presence, tie into NBC News Channel and network news, share content

February 17th, 2014 By Ken Kerschbaumer, Executive Director, Editorial
Jamie Simmons of the NBC owned-and-operated station group says a dedicated WiFi network has improved the signal quality of Dejero camera systems.

Jamie Simmons of the NBC station group says a dedicated WiFi network has improved the signal quality of Dejero camera systems.

The Olympics are almost as much a news event as a sports event so it’s not surprising that NBC-related news properties are out in force during the Games. And, this year, the NBC-owned stations, the NBC News Channel, and NBC network news are working more closely together than ever.

“London [2012 Summer Games] was the first time where we were all in the IBC, and we learned a lot from that,” says Jamie Simmons, director of technology and operations for NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations. “So here we have five Avid editing seats that are sharing content with network news and the NBC News Channel.”

The 10 NBC-owned news properties have about 25 people on-site and are sharing an Avid Interplay server system, making it easy for everyone to share interviews, clips, and other content without having to use drives and tapes (although a couple of stations are using Grass Valley Edius, which requires content to be dumped on a drive for transfer the good old-fashioned way). And, once packages are completed and ready to be shipped home, the Latakoo file-transport system is used to compress and transfer the content.

“They also have a cloud-based access system so something can be turned around here and then pushed out to all 10 stations at the same time,” adds Simmons.

The newest addition to the NBC station group’s Olympics equipment arsenal is the Dejero cellular and WiFi-based transmission system. The stations share three of the systems, and Simmons says demand currently exceeds capacity so the units are busy being used to grab images at both the Coastal and Mountain Clusters.

“We told Dejero what we had planned and the guaranteed 100%-delivery rate, and, instead of just working with cellular connectivity out in the [Olympic] Park, we have a private network they set up at the park and in the mountains that guarantees bandwidth,” says Simmons. “It’s been great, and we are close to a 100% success rate with Dejero.”

The use of such a system has changed the nature of news coverage because the crews have been able to capture many more spontaneous moments in the park than would be possible via a satellite truck.

Simmons says the successful use of a private network is a major lesson.

“That can be applied to many different news situations and big events,” he points out. “And it allows a perspective we never had in the past.”

Overall, things have been going smoothly for the stations, thanks not only to their being in the IBC and sharing content but also because of the ease with which they can move from venue to venue in order to capture stories.

“When you localize the Olympics, you have to be on-site,” says Simmons. “You need more of a personal touch with the athletes.”

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