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August 19, 2008

Digital Rapids Clears Hurdles Behind Unprecedented Summer Games Streaming Experiences

Markham, Ontario: Technology from Digital Rapids – a leading developer of solutions for bringing television, video and movie content to the latest generation of viewing devices – is one of the key enablers of the unprecedented live Internet coverage of the Summer Games currently being enjoyed by U.S. audiences.

Over 2200 hours of video will be streamed live on the Internet at, powered by Digital Rapids' encoding and streaming systems. The unprecedented scale of NBC Universal's online coverage created new challenges going far beyond typical streaming scenarios.

In the past, the live streaming of major international events typically started with the satellite transmission of a single main feed from the source location to the destination country, where that single feed would be encoded, streamed, and distributed. The content of that feed – the switching between camera angles, viewpoints, and storylines – was controlled at the source. In contrast, for the Summer Games, dozens of simultaneous live event feeds are being encoded in Beijing and streamed to the U.S. for distribution to web audiences. In doing so, NBC Universal is putting the control in the hands of the viewer, letting users watch multiple events concurrently while interactively switching between streams through a rich media experience enabled by the cross-platform Microsoft Silverlight technology.

Bringing this number of streams to audiences at high quality all starts with Digital Rapids encoding systems, which transform source video feeds into web-friendly streams. An array of Digital Rapids DRC-Stream encoding solutions is deployed in Beijing, capable of ingesting and encoding over 100 live video sources. Each source is encoded in three combinations of resolution and bit-rate, tripling the amount of encoding to be performed. The high volume of streams to be encoded in a fixed number of systems, combined with the unpredictable and varying visual nature of the content – from fast-moving events with extensive camera motion, to close-ups and wide shots with minimal movement – created numerous encoding challenges. Leveraging the inherent advantages of the DRC-Stream encoding hardware and software alongside custom development working closely with Microsoft, Digital Rapids is leaping these hurdles to enable this breakthrough online video experience. 

"NBC Universal's coverage of this year's Summer Games is raising the bar for live event streaming. From the volume of live streams and the massive amount of on-demand content to the quality of the end-user experience – everything about this initiative is changing how content consumers will look at live event coverage from this point forward," said Brick Eksten, President of Digital Rapids Corporation. "Never before have live event viewers had this much control over what they watch and how they watch it, and we're ecstatic to be part of this phenomenal effort. The future of online event coverage is brighter than ever, and we look forward to our next challenge as multi-platform distribution continues to revolutionize viewing experiences."

Digital Rapids' DRC-Stream encoding solutions combine powerful hardware for video and audio capture and pre-processing with the intuitive Stream software interface, delivering reliable, high-quality, multi-format media encoding and streaming for professional applications such as high-end Internet TV and IPTV. The advanced, hardware-based video processing features enable superior quality and the most efficient use of bandwidth in the compressed result.

Beyond the United States, Digital Rapids solutions are playing key roles in the online coverage of the 2008 Summer Games worldwide, with leading broadcasters in additional countries including China, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand depending on Digital Rapids encoding, transcoding and streaming systems.


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