[SatNews] With the XXII Olympic Winter Games officially opening last Friday in Sochi, Russia, the global satellite industry is working to bring media coverage of the Games to people around the world.
More than 11,000 media representatives and 90 broadcasters from 123 countries are covering the 18 different sports and 98 Olympic events. Commercial communications satellites will carry television and media coverage from the Games to an anticipated global audience of 3 billion people - live and as it happens.
Satellites will play a role in virtually all the Games coverage, both in the U.S. and abroad. Commercial satellite operators SES, Intelsat, Eutelsat, and Telesat, who collectively operate more than 150 geostationary satellites, are providing satellite connectivity to broadcasters and news organizations so they may transmit live video content of the events as they happen to locations around the world. NBC Olympics, the U.S. rights holder for Olympic programming, will rely on SES satellite capacity during its planned 1,500 hours of live coverage of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. U.S. Olympic viewers can then watch either via direct-to-home satellite TV companies, such as DIRECTV, or via cable TV services that receive Olympic coverage from satellite feeds delivered via their terrestrial cable head-end facilities. TV channels and service providers have also booked almost 5000 hours of satellite transmissions from Eutelsat Communications to bring around-the-clock coverage to viewers throughout Europe.
Communications satellites have been transmitting coverage of the Olympic Games since 1964, when the very first commercial geostationary satellite, Syncom 3, beamed the world’s first live color television broadcast of the Tokyo Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies back to the U.S. This was the first time that U.S. viewing audiences could watch an overseas sporting event in real time, replacing the need to physically ship recorded tapes for viewers to watch, often days after the event.
Every Olympiad since has relied on communications satellites to broadcast ever-increasing coverage of the Games to an audience that now totals billions of viewers around the world. Satellites orbiting the earth will provide additional coordination, logistics and security support for the Sochi Winter Games, beyond carrying media coverage of the events.
Past Games organizers, broadcasters, security personnel and emergency first responders, have relied on satellite telephones and satellite data terminals provided by companies such as Iridium and Inmarsat for telephone and broadband connectivity throughout the Olympic site. In addition, U.S. Olympic team members and officials, such as coaches of the U.S. Biathlon team, have purchased satellite telephones for enhanced safety while in Sochi.
Satellite imagery of the Winter Games venue will provide Olympic organizers with high resolution photography in and around Sochi to enhance security, forecast weather conditions and track the environmental impact before, during and after the Olympics. U.S. satellite remote sensing company, DigitalGlobe, will capture high resolution imagery of the Olympic venues from space daily throughout the Games, and will provision its collected imagery to customers for security planning, logistics, risk assessment, and monitoring of staging areas, as well as emergency response and disaster recovery. In addition, Russian imagery satellites have been taking pictures of the Olympic development sites and surrounding areas for two years ahead of the 2014 Winter Games to help reduce the impact on natural habitats during construction of the various venues.
The global satellite industry was worth nearly $190 billion in 2012, according to the Satellite Industry Association’s 2013 State of the Satellite Industry Report. The industry has nearly tripled in size since 2001, with average annual growth rates of 10 percent since 2008. About one third of the estimated 1,000 active satellites on orbit are owned and operated by commercial companies.
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