Let the streaming begin

CBC sees Beijing Olympics as broadband tipping point

TORONTO -- The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. has unveiled a major streaming video initiative it believes will make the upcoming Beijing Olympics the first to fully exploit Canada's emerging broadband technologies as profit centers.

Scott Moore, executive director of CBC Sports, said he envisions the Olympics as the first in which major Canadian advertisers "will shift significant marketing dollars to the Internet or mobile platforms," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "Advertisers are very interested in being associated with our Web site. We can show Olympic highlights on the Web site with an exclusivity that is worth more to an advertiser."

The CBC, which owns the domestic broadband rights to the 2008 Games, has a deal in place with domestic phone giant Bell Canada to distribute video content on its cell phones and via its high-speed Internet service. Bell Canada also will provide high-definition TV feeds of specific sports on its direct-broadcast-satellite TV service, Bell ExpressVu.

On the mobile side, the broadcaster plans to provide hourly highlight reels for cell phone users, depen-ding on which sports are in competition.

On the Web front, Canadians can be expecting to see a revolution in online delivery of video content, as the CBC pushes lesser-known Olympic sporting events to its Web site for live streaming, he said.

"I don't believe our main network coverage will change significantly. But sports like badminton or table tennis will be huge online as we provide full-length coverage on the Internet," he explained.

The CBC also will stream a host of major Olympic events at its Web site, CBCSports.ca. The key, Moore said, is that the CBC will go beyond interviews and highlight reels to stream entire sporting events for the first time.

The CBC's online video player already delivers entire hockey games and carried the recent world track and field championships, so Canadians are getting used to viewing sports online.

Moore said that the video streaming on the pubcaster's Web site will be ad-supported rather than a subscription model.

The CBC sports chief said that the online traffic will support the ad-supported model. "There was little, if any, video a year ago. Now we're getting on the sports side up to 40,000 hits a day watching various video on our site," Moore said.

Moore argued that as Canadians gain increasing access to broadband content, they want to watch what they want and when they want it, and that trend is likely to get a significant boost during the Beijing Games.

He added that CBC's on-air delivery of Olympic events is unlikely to change from previous Olympics. The main network will provide telecasts of the opening and closing ceremonies in Beijing along with more popular sporting events.