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Building the BBC's Olympic site (bbc.co.uk)
80 points by aspratley on Sept 2, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 10 comments

I was really blown away by how awesome the BBC's coverage was. You could watch every event, live and delayed, and they would even bookmark the live stream as you watched it (and preserved for replays) with event markers. This was particularly useful for track and field where you might want to skip around on various qualifiers and other events.

We never had a single issue with buffering or playback, and it was truly better than TV. It definitely felt like the future. I was really sorry our American friends in the USA couldn't experience the coverage like we had in the UK (without a VPN).

I agree. When I first thought about watching the Olympics online I was just expecting to see a version of iplayer with the usual BBC1 and 2 coverage. What they pulled off was incredible. The people behind it should be very proud for actually delivering something that pushes beyond just replicating the TV experience.

My only issue was with Flash. I'm not into bashing Flash just for the sake of it, but my only frustrations were caused by Flash just not living up to the rest of the delivery experience. I think it was the hardware acceleration issue that is already mentioned in their FAQ. Geting the video to play was sometimes a case of throw a 6 to start.

I was particularly impressed by the event markers. For example, it was quite the novelty to click on a marker and be taken back to the beginning of a particular persons dive, then jump back to the live stream.

To my mind the mechanics of live streaming and streaming archived content are completely different and you usually have to wait ages for a live broadcast to be archived off for on-demand playback, yet the BBC somehow managed to blur the distinction. It might not be that difficult in reality but it was impressive to me.

I used a VPN to watch some of the Olympic coverage on the BBC's website. While the video playback sometimes failed, I was simply blown away by all the options they provided. One aspect I never dug into much at all was on the data side. The infrastructure to input, compile and output it all is quite a amazing. I'll bet it was a fun project to work on!

For those of you interested in hearing more about this, there's a great episode of the podcast Framerate where they talk to Andy Armstrong, who was behind all of the streaming of the BBC olympics.

There's some really interesting tidbits in there and he offers a candid perspective of how it went and the future of streaming TV, etc.


The interesting part to me was the fairly heavy use of RDF triple stores. The BBC have used these to good effect before on the world cup site and waxed lyrical at the time about what a difference it made modelling the data in this way. AFAIK they use BigOwlim from Ontotext as their store, run in cluster mode.

I see they are talking about this at Velocity Europe http://velocityconf.com/velocityeu2012/public/schedule/detai...

PHP - another victory.

The Paralympics coverage is abysmal by comparison. It's really sad.

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