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We wrote earlier this week about the fact that NBC is planning to require would-be Vancouver Olympics watchers to authenticate in the U.S. Once users have proved they are paying TV customers in good standing, they’ll also have to download the latest version of Microsoft Silverlight if they don’t have it already. But once you get past the setup, the 2009 Olympics is going to be a state-of-the-art high quality video experience, and you know the content won’t be too shabby either.
Today, the U.S. Olympic video tech team is being formally named (though we’ve written quite a bit about some of their participation already). Here’s the full roster:
iStreamPlanet is taking the live video feeds from NBC (s GE) in New York and feeding them through the stream preparation process. Inlet Technologies‘ Spinnaker will encode each stream into six different bitrates for Microsoft’s IIS Live Smooth Streaming and send them to Microsoft’s Windows Servers. Akamai (s AKAM) will deliver and cache the content around its network. Viewers will tune into a version of the Silverlight player customized by Vertigo, which brings in a data feed from Deltatre for play-by-play and stats. Conviva contributes monitoring software to immediately report any issues with the streams to NBC and Microsoft.
While Akamai and Microsoft are established giants, that’s mostly a list of startups, which seems fitting given the Olympic spirit of amateur competition. From what we’ve seen, these companies are the best of the best in live streaming.
What does that mean for viewers? In addition to a more stable platform, higher quality video (full 720p) and a better experience provided by adaptive bitrate streaming that adjusts to fluctuating bandwidth conditions, streaming improvements over the last Olympic Games in Beijing include features such as fast-forward, rewind and slow motion capabilities and the ability to jump to key moments within an (on-demand) stream. There will be 23 different video feeds: nine venue feeds, four broadcast feeds, one Olympic News Channel, six “Beauty Cams,” two victory ceremonies and one press conference.