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SBD Global/October 29, 2013/Media

OBS CEO Yiannis Exarchos Says People OK With Watching Sports On Smaller Screens

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Olympic Broadcasting Services CEO Yiannis Exarchos said that the host broadcaster’s assessment of new technologies is based on the premise of "what makes sense for the rights holder and the end user." Exarchos told SBD Global at the recent Sportel Monaco, "The desire for better quality, more resolution, is, of course, a normal, never-ending desire that we as the host broadcaster absolutely share. We follow, of course, the developments on 4K, and we also follow the developments on 8K and Super Hi-Vision, which is a technology developed by the Japanese public broadcaster NHK." During the London Games, OBS and NHK teamed up to provide coverage of the Opening Ceremony and some other events in Super Hi-Vision, and they will do it again in Sochi. Despite those, and other tests, it has been nothing more than an experimental effort, Exarchos said. He added, "It would be too soon, it would be premature."

TIME TO CHANGE?: In its 12 years of existence, OBS has set the level for production standards very high, and therefore it cannot easily switch or adapt a new technology such as 4K -- not to mention the costs for new equipment. Exarchos: "4K is a technology that is being developed. However, a lot of components that we would need to bring a production to the level that we usually do are not there yet. First of all, there’s not even enough gear around to cover the Olympic Games. Second, there are a number of specialty cameras, RF applications and transmissions, which are not yet developed, but I’m sure they will be developed. I don’t believe that we can at this point speak really about a technology that will substitute." While talks about new developments continue, we should not forget that even in Europe, HD is not a fully adopted standard. Exarchos: "It’s not like 100 percent of the people in Europe, which is perceived as one of the most developed broadcast areas of the world, have access to 100 percent of high-definition programming, nowhere near. We wish it were like that."

GO SMALL OR GO HOME: Another obstacle that prevents OBS from fully committing to a new standard is the fact that people tend to watch more and more sporting events on smaller screens. Exarchos said, "The clear tendency that we see is that people feel comfortable following sporting events on much smaller screens such as tablets and mobiles. It’s not like they are looking for larger and larger screens." However, in the case of 4K you would need a screen of at least 65 inches to really tell the difference from HD, Exarchos added.
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