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Over the last three weeks, NBC Olympics, a division of the NBC Sports Group, has been enthralling millions of sports fans with its extensive coverage of the Tokyo Olympics, which draws to a climatic conclusion on August 4.

Of the many technology solutions that powered NBC Olympics’ production of the XXXII Olympiad, the selection of MediaKind to provide video contribution and distribution solutions proved to be a pivotal decision.

Christopher Connolly, VP of Transmission Engineering and Operations, NBC Olympics, explained, “Based on MediaKind’s innovative solutions for the media industry, we were excited to once again partner with them for our production of the Olympic Games.

“With their partnership, we were able to maximise our resources to deliver the highest quality content to all platforms.”

Since the Tokyo Games commenced on July 23, thousands of hours of sporting content have been broadcast on NBC and NBC affiliates CNBC and USA, as well as Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service. Having previously provided encoding solutions for NBC Olympics’ coverage of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, MediaKind extended the partnership by providing a range of video processing and advanced modular receiver technologies for the Tokyo Games.

Matt McConnell, CEO of MediaKind, said, “The Olympic Games continue to captivate viewers all over the world and the enduring appeal of this prestigious live event underlines the critical importance of high-performing, ultra-reliable broadcast delivery.

“By providing our leading compression solutions and services, including our market-leading encoder and receiver technologies, NBC Olympics benefited from a high-quality, satellite distribution solution that realises the immersive viewing expectations of today’s audiences.”

Creating more meaningful engagement with sports fans  

For so long a staple on cable-TV networks, sports have in recent times, made a not-inconsiderable transition to over-the-top (OTT) streaming services. Having not disguised the intention of making the Tokyo Olympics a showcase for Peacock, NBCUniversal announced “strong viewership” for the Games, with over three billion minutes of Olympics coverage streamed across NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

Drawing on key insights from MediaKind’s 2021 Sports D2C Forecast report, McConnell said, “I think we are seeing the natural shift in evolution of the content owners who own the rights looking to create a deeper and richer relationship with their end-customers through direct-to-consumer (D2C), and certainly in sports, which is a very connective and emotional kind of connection to the content.”

Almost all the 40 sports-rights holders analysed in the MediaKind report regarded D2C platforms as an essential part of their future distribution strategy for live sport and building direct touchpoints with fans.

As these sports-rights holders look to augment their linear distribution and strengthen engagement with viewers, quality and latency becomes even more critical, McConnell highlighted, because even a 15-second delay in transmission can fracture the engagement with viewers.

To allow sports entities, broadcasters, channel originators and content owners to build new and supplement existing revenues with new D2C offerings that increase fan engagement opportunities, MediaKind recently launched MediaKind Engage, an end-to-end D2C solution for video contribution, production, streaming and audience engagement. 

A cloud-native technology service, MediaKind Engage speeds up time-to-market, lowers set-up costs for fast and efficient D2C service delivery, and provides stability at scale. Built on a broadcast-grade framework, MediaKind Engine is also structured around Platform and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models, enabling new OTT innovations to be launched with greater control.

Believing that D2C will continue to grow as the media landscape takes a more outward-looking perspective due to the pandemic, McConnell added, “It’s clear broadcasters, service providers and content creators are changing the way they operate. As their businesses evolve, we have devised strategies and additional resources that we believe will best support this market transformation.”

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