MIPTV 2012: BBC to Air Live Online Olympic Coverage on 24 TV Channels in HD

10:57 AM PST 04/03/2012 by Kate Bulkley

Satellite TV operator Sky quickly snapped up the offer.

The Olympics TV coverage provided by the BBC was already set to be big, with some 2,500 hours of coverage both on BBC TV channels and full coverage of every single sport online. But Tuesday the BBC took its Olympic commitment a step further, announcing it will also offer all of its planned live online coverage as a suite of 24 TV channels both in standard and in high definition -- an offer that was immediately snapped up by satellite TV operator Sky. Sky said it will offer 48 new BBC-branded channels of Olympics coverage -- 24 channels in standard definition and 24 in high definition -- to its subscribers.

The new TV channels will be available through the main Sky TV lineup on its TV electronic programme guide (EPG) to all 10 million Sky customers. In addition, Sky will offer the HD versions of the new BBC Olympics channels to its 5 million customers who are equipped with HD set top boxes.

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U.K. cable operator Virgin Media was also in talks with the BBC about offering the Olympics channels on its main EPG but said that it's already planning to provide all the online versions of the BBC Olympics channels as a red-button option to its TiVo set top box-equipped customers. At the moment, that stands at about 500,000 Virgin subscribers out of a total subscriber base of 3.8 million.

We want to ensure that our customers have access to as much Olympics coverage as possible," said Virgin Media spokeswoman Michelle Gordon. "We have a pretty full Olympic suite of services already coming through the IP (online), which we announced last December."

Roger Mosey, who is over seeing BBC's London coverage, said: "We're delighted to be able to offer this opportunity to cable and satellite providers to extend our online service to millions of TV viewers across the UK. BBC One and BBC Three will remain the flagship channels for the Olympics. But, as the London 2012 Olympic Games will be the first truly 'Digital Games,' we wanted to offer an unprecedented amount of live sporting action to the widest possible audience through these 24 live streams, giving vastly more choice than ever before."

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