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New Tech to Change How Consumers Watch the Rio Olympics


2012 was so four years ago. Those London Games? Might as well have happened on a different planet. I guess the fact that Rio is half a world away basically means these 2016 Summer Olympics are happening on a different planet. But in all seriousness—technology has evolved so much in the last four years that those of us who will be watching the Games over the next few weeks will, in some instances, have completely different viewing experiences than our selves of four years ago.
Here’s a look at some of the technology that will be introduced to the watching world throughout the 2016 Summer Olympics down in Rio.

Olympics in Virtual Reality

In just the past few months, virtual reality has gone from a gamer’s paradise to a consumerized market thanks to the launch of products like Google Cardboard, Samsung’s Galaxy VR device, and the myriad other headgears available out there. As such, the Olympic Broadcasting Services—the IOC’s official body responsible for coordinating TV coverage of the Olympics—will have VR footage from different venues in Rio, enabling viewers to transport themselves from their living room to Rio. NBC and the BBC already said they will take advantage of the 360-degree footage being made available by the committee.

Drones Return to Rio

As big as the drone explosion has been in the consumer space, it’s been equally impressive among content providers. The spider cam at football games has essentially lost its tethering wires and can present all kinds of different angles—near and wide—for viewers to experience. In Rio, drones will be deployed to cover a lot of the open water events (rowing, for example), among other things. Drones were at the Sochi games in 2014, and made headlines when one nearly took out an alpine skier. Here’s hoping they avoid a similar fate in Rio.

4K Ultra HD Video

Shipments of the latest and greatest in TV tech has more than quadrupled in the past three years to just over 48 million units in 2016—and we’re not quite done with the calendar year yet. Needless to say, people are ready for 4K content to catch up with the times, and the Olympics will be the first real showcase event for the technology. NBC will air plenty of (tape delayed) 4K content, but users will only benefit if they happen to subscribe to one of the few content providers who are 4K ready (Comcast and DirecTV are two names you might recognize, and that’s about it).

First 8K Broadcast

Forget about 4K though. The Rio Games will see some of the first 8K broadcasts hit the airwaves. The OBS will record 130 hours worth of 8K content throughout these Summer Games, and Japan’s NHK network will be the only broadcaster to make use of that 8K content. As for consumer-ready 8K TVs, the only thing close to that right now is the $133,000 85-inch Sharp LV-85001 that went on “sale” last October.

Streaming Content

For those who’ve either cut the cable cord or are just looking for an altogether different way to experience the Summer Olympics, streaming channels will be the way to go. Google, for example, is sending a bunch of their YouTube stars (15 in total) to capture the essence of the Rio Games. Then, of course, there are the apps like NBC Sports, the BBC’s online-only channels, and more. Cord cutters and login sharers will have plenty of options available to them to watch the action in Rio while they’re on the go or at the office.

Article written by Rob Scott and re-printed from Dealerscope August 5, 2016

Rob is Content Editor for CTPG at NAPCO Media.

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