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More choices announced for BBC Olympic viewers

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Roger Mosey | 13:10 UK time, Wednesday, 18 April 2012

So '100 Days To Go' was marked with a soggy media event in London's Kew Gardens.

In England we know we're in the middle of a drought, while to the world's journalists it confirmed it always rains in London.

Here at the BBC we're marking the day with our special preview programme tonight but also with more announcements about ways you'll be able to view our content during Games time.

This morning we reported that Virgin Media has become the latest platform to sign up for the 24 BBC Olympic channels - so they'll be available to cable viewers in HD or SD and via the BBC Red Button or channel numbers in the EPG (Electronic Programme Guide).

This is in line with the agreements with Sky and Freesat and the 24 streams will also be available on the BBC Sport and 2012 websites.

Now we can also tell you about some good news for Freeview HD viewers.

Thanks to some newly-released digital space, the BBC will be broadcasting an additional high definition service on the Freeview HD platform over the Games period.

This will be a simulcast of the BBC's main Red Button service on Freeview, also available on channel 301, delivered in glorious HD.

The Aquatics Centre at the Olympic Park.

Viewers will be able to watch live action from all the Olympic venues including the Aquatics Centre. Pic: Getty Images.

Capacity limitations mean we would be unable to deliver 24 streams to Freeview audiences through their TVs, but this extra service will bring the number of high definition services available on Freeview HD over the Olympic Games period to three.

It's worth noting that the Freeview red button service will be picking the best of the action from the sports not being covered on BBC One and BBC Three, so we'll deliver more top-quality Olympic action from a range of venues in subscription-free HD.

BBC One HD and BBC HD can be found at Freeview HD EPG positions 50 and 54 respectively.

For ease of navigation, Freeview HD viewers will be able to access the additional temporary high definition service directly via the red button from these channels and it will also be listed on the Freeview HD EPG at position 304 with the other BBC Red Button services on Freeview (301 and 302).

That means viewers with PVRs (Personal Video Recorders) will be able to record even more BBC Olympics coverage in high definition.

Juggling these multiple platforms is pretty complex, as you'll have spotted by now.

But the pledge on 100 Days To Go is simple: more choice on more platforms. This includes more HD than ever before, including the first Olympics in HD on Freeview, and big live moments plus daily highlights in 3D.


  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks Roger, sounds fantastic. With the constant updates really feels as though the main event is around the corner.
    Mind you, we'll have the usual "im avoiding any mention of the Olympics at all costs" crew on soon to give their default-setting negative view on the latest Olympic news. A funny way to avoid it, by commenting negatively on every item.....

  • Comment number 2.

    Sounds great. How will this work for FreeSat users?

  • Comment number 3.

    The Games are going to be fantastic - especially based on the recent test event at the Olympic Stadium...

    People were smiling - young and old - they all wanted to be there. The click of consciousness was loud. Talk of tickets, of project costs; of inconvenience and disapproval were soundly beaten into second place. We were all going to the Olympic Stadium. In London. In 2012. Who knew?

  • Comment number 4.

    How much of the extensive web content will be available to users outside of the UK?

  • Comment number 5.

    Sounds good!

    With Freesat, will they be stand alone channels, or something that can only be accessed via the red button?

    You mention the ability to record more of the BBC's coverage, but from my experience, it is not usually possible to record red button coverage (at least not on the Freesat I have), while it is possible to record normal channels.

  • Comment number 6.

    @SportingNonsense in #5 (and linked to @Iain in #2): we're expecting cable and satellite platforms will offer navigation by the red button, but there will also be EPG positions for the 24 channels. So those EPG channels should contain a schedule and be recordable, which marks a change from what was possible previously.

  • Comment number 7.

    @steve mc-p in #5: none, unfortunately. We're required to geo-block online content so it can only be seen within the UK.

  • Comment number 8.

    Not the most surprising news though I would prefer the extra Freeview HD channel to not be a simulcast of the limited channels we already have - or an extra 2-4 SD streams for Freeview HD viewers.

    I've given up on this issue though - and the really frustrating thing is I was happy enough to get Sky for the games and beyond for the BBC Olympic coverage until the BBC announced that their answer to the complaints about the poor Freeview interactive service was to slash Sky's down to just one stream after the games too.

  • Comment number 9.

    Whats the betting they still only show about ten minutes of waterpolo and about 4 weeks worth of athletics and swimming heats?!

  • Comment number 10.

    Roger - why do you have to Geo-Block for the UK only? In 2010, the Vancouver coverage was shared by the EBU so we could get streams from across Europe, and through the EBU's dedicated website. I thought the 2012 Games were also an EBU purchase?

  • Comment number 11.

    Glad to see that both Virgin and Sky will be showing over 100 hrs 3D coverage thanks to them including the Eurosport 3D coverage.

  • Comment number 12.

    @JordanD in #10: the EBU site should exist for London, yes, but otherwise rights are sold territory-by-tetritory - so BBC online feeds can't, for instance, be watched in the US; and NBC won't be viewable here.

    @keronwanya in #9: there will be live uninterrupted coverage of Waterpolo within the 24 channels.

    @Brekkie in #8: understood. I know it's got limited availability at the moment, but I can recommend the BBC Sport app as it's rolled out across platforms. That seems to be the best long-term solution.

    In comment #7, I meant to refer back to #4. Apologies.

  • Comment number 13.


    Can you confirm that there will be a commentary free feed of the Opening and Closing ceremonies available on Freeview and also that we will get to see the pre-show to the Opening Ceremony as well?

  • Comment number 14.

    Roger, when will the commentators be announced?

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi Roger,

    Thank you very much for keeping us informed, it's appreciated as always. As a Freeview HD customer this is great news. However i still want all 24 streams so i am a little bit alarmed that YouView may now apparently miss the games according to some press reports. I'm not going to buy a new connected TV for it. Do you have any news on this?

    Also will all 24 streams be available via mobile (iPhone specifically in my case)?

  • Comment number 16.

    @magnificentpolarbear in #13: I'm told there will be two commentary options on channel 301 for the Opening Ceremony - (1) audio description and (2) no commentary. As for the pre-show: our understanding is that not of all it will be for broadcast, but we're expecting further discussions soon.

    @David Shield in #14: the BBC media launch for our Olympics coverage is in mid-May, so we'll publish pretty much everything then.

    @Robinho02 in #15: I'll come back to you with a definitive list of where you'll be able to find the 24 streams, but the 'heart' of that will be on and

  • Comment number 17.

    I cannot wait to be watching so many different sports on so many streams. Most looking forward to rowing, athletics, swimming and equestrian.
    Roger; watching the BBC videos that are currently showing online of Steve Redgrave, Kelly Holmes & Greg Louganis brought back memories of watching a BBC programme just before the 2004 Olympics. I think it was the 100 greatest olympic moments? I remember enjoying this immensely and wondered if you and the beeb were thinking of doing somthing similar before the London games?

  • Comment number 18.

    @bersaglio - there's an Olympic compilation show being planned for BBC Three. This is in addition to the Olympic history series on Two and some special sports documentaries on One.

  • Comment number 19.

    Not getting much luck with BT when sorting out my broadband speed pre-games - absolutely wrong that customers in more urban areas are getting faster and faster speeds while rural areas are left behind. Testing the BBC streams with the snooker and it's a non-starter thanks to constant buffering unless you offer a low speed version. (Worth noting other streams though I can watch fine - e.g. the Diving on FINA TV).

    Switching to Freesat or Sky isn't worth it for two weeks and cable is sadly not an option around here. Looks like myself and many more Freeview viewers will have to accept a 2nd class Olympics from the BBC then. Wasn't so bad when we had 4 of the 6 Sky streams, but 3 of the 24 is a joke.

    That said though I'm having to trust you'll generally make the right decisions in what is on BBC1, BBC3 and 301 - as great as the ambition to broadcast all events live may be, it might be a little bit too much choice for the viewer, with 6-8 selected streams probably the better option.

  • Comment number 20.

    Thanks for the reply Roger, can't wait for mid May then!


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