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Volume 25 No. 196

Olympics

Chinese online retail and cloud computing giant Alibaba has delivered its first major tech project for the IOC in its 12-year sponsorship: A cloud storage tool designed for the intensive data needs of Olympic broadcasters like NBC and Eurosport. Olympic Broadcasting Services, the IOC subsidiary that produces the basic feed of the Games and coordinates with the rightsholders, will launch the tool at the '20 Tokyo Games. No rightsholders have promised they will use the cloud so far, but Alibaba GM for the Global Strategic Accounts & Sports Business Unit Joey Tan said the Asian Broadcasting Union worked closely with the tool at the recently completed Asian Games. The basic proposition of the OBS cloud is simple -- it will be big and strong enough to handle live sports. In recent Olympics, the explosion of digital media channels has put intense demands on Olympic content producers, but cloud computing technology is not fast enough or reliable enough to use during live sports broadcasts. Today, broadcasters have to ship physical servers to the host city and operate them at extraordinary cost. “The idea is for them to send less equipment, less stuff, and less presence to the host city but at the same time deliver more content to their viewers,” said OBS CEO Yiannis Exarchos. OBS will distribute standard visual and audio assets to rightsholders via cloud, and rightsholders will also be able to build their own content management systems on the cloud, giving them the option to disassemble them or keep them up for the next Games without physical shipments. Tan said the OBS Cloud project is “an exciting initiative to expand the reach and accessibility of the Olympic Games content” and will continue to be tested at smaller events before Tokyo, such as the upcoming Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.