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Advice: Overcoming Olympic obstacles with technology

The global spectacle of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris will be groundbreaking in several respects. Sure, it’s breakdancing’s debut as an Olympic event, but it will also be the first Games to feature an identical number of female and male athletes. The Paris Games will also see advancements off the field, with unprecedented coverage including 24-hour streaming, the trial of an AI-powered end-to-end 8K live streaming system and daytime broadcasts of swimming, gymnastics and athletics finals.

Stephane Guez, co-founder and director, Dalet

Speaking of firsts, Peacock, NBCUniversal’s U.S. OTT streaming service, will livestream all 329 medal events, a remarkable evolution in sports broadcasting. This crucial move to streaming platforms highlights a major shift in the way audiences interact with sports content. With more than 5,000 hours of live coverage, full event replays and new multiview features, viewers can watch what they want on the device of their choice.

Fan engagement is the key to winning in today’s competitive world of global sports. With an explosion of content to manage, distribute and often freelance teams to coordinate, multiple locations and countless distribution platforms to feed, technology will be key to helping journalists overcome the many hurdles required to produce winning reporting .

Producing Olympic Gold: A Data-Centric Model

Media outlets have the opportunity to reform their reporting and diversify the agenda, diving into stories and reporting on athletes who are often overlooked during regular sports seasons. A more explanatory, data-driven approach will help the public understand non-mainstream disciplines. Extensive coverage will inform what’s happening on the ground alongside the results, with post-event interviews with athletes.

To captivate Olympic audiences, media organizations must navigate an overwhelming flood of information with seamless management and collaboration strategies. The challenge is to produce a steady stream of diverse, fact-checked and engaging content for different platforms, while managing the exponential increase in both input and output.

French broadcasters will provide 24-hour coverage of the Games and their impact on Parisian life. not only from a sports perspective, but also from a news perspective, from pre-match preparation to the closing ceremony. France Télévisions has exclusive free-to-air rights to broadcast the Games, with dedicated streams for each sport on all screens. Other channels that do not have broadcast rights, such as regional channels and 24-hour television news channels, will focus on highlights and urban impacts, as well as background stories and athlete profiles. Seamless collaboration is required when sharing packs so that affiliates can localize and rebrand them.

Historically, broadcasters operated around a single data model focused on linear television, with fixed schedules driving the process. However, the dynamic nature of today’s sports and news cycles – exemplified by events like the Olympic Games – requires a more multifaceted approach. Content is now distributed across multiple platforms, including apps, radio, websites, social media and podcasts. The once clear division of labor between editors, videographers and producers has faded, replaced by the need for real-time updates and instant accessibility. Adapting to this fast-paced environment requires a fundamental change in organizational dynamics and information flow.

Broadcasters must now efficiently produce platform-optimized versions of content. Tasks such as recording, scripting, editing, localization, digital versioning, and graphic creation all revolve around the event. So most media outlets will use news workflow concepts for sports broadcasts. This streamlined process not only reduces costs, but also improves collaboration, visibility and access to media assets. Consequently, producing platform-tailored versions of sporting events becomes significantly more efficient and cost-effective. This workflow is supported by an AI-driven data model that aggregates content types, enriches them with metadata, and provides the structure needed for workflow automation. Task assignments and notifications ensure smooth operation. As linear and digital media continue to converge, this robust data model bridges the gap between editorial decision-making and automated technical processes, having a critical impact on media production.

Olympic performance in the cloud: transforming sport with technology

The increasing reliance on cloud infrastructure for sourcing, processing and distributing content has led to a reassessment of system designs and associated infrastructure costs and scalability requirements. The cloud provides geographic flexibility and complements on-site physical infrastructure. More fundamentally, a cloud media workflow is a software-defined infrastructure, enabling unprecedented flexibility and operational efficiency.

This means that news and sports reporting is no longer limited by physical infrastructure, nor confined to a single geographic location. Virtual media operations can respond almost instantly to any demand or change in circumstances, as adaptable as the news itself. In the past, broadcast systems were sized based on the ‘worst-case scenario’, with a large number of expensive ingest ports, media processing nodes and storage.

The challenge of absorbing and processing resources at the Olympic level provides the perfect use case for cloud elasticity. Cloud-based video recorders are up and running in seconds and adapt to requirements such as streaming protocol, encoding format and bandwidth. Because they only capture feeds for the duration of an event, they are an ideal replacement for on-site equipment fleets, especially when recording needs vary widely within the day. Workload elasticity also applies to media processing. Auto-expanded resources allow content creators to simultaneously work on expanding files from many sources with enough remote rendering power to deliver content instantly from anywhere during live story development. Cloud-native platforms can optimize costs by automatically adjusting and scaling infrastructure, near real-time, based on workload requirements. Cloud-native applications can be designed so that you only pay for infrastructure when needed, optimizing operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness. However, many broadcasters are using hybrid cloud approaches, combining on-premises infrastructure with cloud services. This strategy balances the benefits of both, helping with major events like the Olympics while gradually reducing technical debt.

AI-powered broadcasting: the future of sports reporting

The worlds of sports and data are closely intertwined, with AI playing a central role. Since the 2018 PyeongChang Games, AI has been supporting judges and referees in making accurate decisions. Intel’s AI-powered 3D Athlete Tracking (3DAT) revolutionized the fan experience at the Tokyo Games by providing near real-time insights and overlay visualizations. Looking ahead to Paris 2024, AI will improve scoring accuracy and provide judges with real-time performance analytics, redefining the way we understand athletic performance.

For broadcasters, AI is often more pragmatic. With hyperlocalization an important consideration, AI is essential to simplify or eliminate basic or repetitive time-consuming tasks, and to assist in information gathering and content preparation. Integrated AI at scale can handle the complexity of multiple languages, automating translations of subtitles, images, voiceovers and more. AI can support every stage of the production chain, analyzing and indexing incoming content so it is discoverable and recommending relevant content without journalists having to waste time logging.

For example, if a gymnastics accident occurs, AI-powered recommendations can suggest material and then repackage the content so it’s ready for distribution on any platform, rather than a journalist searching for a similar incident from the last Olympics. AI can help quickly repackage highlights with different branding for each affiliate or distribution platform, using consistent branding templates, and localize and customize content for different audiences and platforms.

In just four years, technology has made tremendous strides over traditional workflows that often required separate teams to use different tools and repositories for the same content on each platform. Hours would be spent on technical tasks to manually exchange content, modify and process different versions. AI-powered automation can accelerate workflows to “do more with less.” Produce once, then use AI to automatically create multiple versions. For example, crop a 16:9 interview of an athlete to 1:1, add digital images and on-screen text, and prepare to send it to Facebook.

Technological innovation and human cooperation are at the heart of the Olympic Games. The 2024 Olympics will not only be a display of athletic prowess, but also a testament to advances in media technology. Media professionals who embrace story-centric workflows and AI-driven cloud infrastructure will once again crossing the finish line in the race for innovation. Successfully Navigating the complexities of modern Olympic coverage will ensure audiences around the world experience every moment of the Games like never before.