Case study: Olympic red button

The London 2012 Olympics showcased not just some of the greatest sportsmen and women from around the world, but also the best in broadcasting and creative talent from the BBC. We examine how the BBC Red Button team was able to deliver content to 24 streams.

From the dramatic opening ceremony to the thrills of 'Super Saturday', the BBC’s coverage was widely praised around the world, and we have brought together our own highlights in our new collection of case study films, taking a detailed look at how the Olympics were brought to you, from build-up to broadcast.

From their base in the interactive gallery in the broadcast centre (IBC) in Olympic Park, the BBC Red Button team looked after all interactive streams broadcast during the London 2012 games. The small team of only four producers, editor and sound engineer were responsible for delivering nearly 2,500 hours of sport, broadcasting up to 24 live sports at any one time across BBC Sport and its associated platforms, Virgin, Freesat, Sky and other connected TV services.

The team’s main job was to transmit all the video coverage from each venue. However, for Matt Millington, video portal editor and commentary manager, matching the video with the commentators was the more complex task.

"It’s quite a big upscale from anything that we've ever done before." – Matt Millington

"Matching the right commentary at the right time, and getting the balance right between the clean effects and the commentator, [was] a much harder part of our task here," he says.

During the games, BBC One and BBC Three were transmitting every day from 8.30am to midnight, which meant that the team had to be on the ball. Channels would change their schedule at the last minute, and events often ended up over-running.

Nevertheless, the results were outstanding. From offering only six streams for the Beijing Games, the BBC was able to deliver content to 24 streams, with viewing figures to match. Over 20 million viewers watched the Olympics on red button services, outstripping the estimated 12 million viewers in Beijing.

 

Note: All London 2012 Olympics content contained within bbc.co.uk/collegeofproduction is for original purpose only and under rights agreement is forbidden to be used or sub-licensed elsewhere.