With Live Streaming and New Technology, BBC Tries to be Everywhere at the Olympics

While some American television viewers are grumbling about the retro feel to NBC’s London Olympics coverage, with tape-delayed broadcasts of the opening ceremony and other events, audiences in Britain are getting a more contemporary — even futuristic — TV Games.

here, BBCis providing marathon coverage — 2,500 hours of programming during the more than two weeks of the Games. At the touch of a button on their remote controls, viewers can choose among as many as 24 live feeds of various events, whether basketball or fencing.

“We wanted to give people every venue, from first thing in the morning to last thing at night,” said Roger Mosey, director of BBC’s Olympics coverage.

London Olympics have provided a variety of television firsts. The last such Games, in 1948, were the first to be televised to people’s homes, for example.

This time, BBC and NHK, the Japanese public broadcaster, are testing a new technology — so-called Super Hi-Vision television, which they describe as providing 16 times the resolution of conventional high-definition television.

Super Hi-Vision is not available in homes yet and may not be until 2020 or so, executives say. But the technology is being used for a number of events with closed-circuit broadcasts on giant screens in London and Bradford, England; Glasgow; and Tokyo and Fukushima in Japan. A feed has also been provided to NBC for a screen in Washington.

“It’s better than 3-D,” Mr. Mosey said. “It’s like looking through a glass window at an event.”

Such broadcasts, which have been around for a few years, are the only ones among BBC’s Olympics offerings that have not lived up to expectations, Mr. Mosey said. Viewer numbers for other services have been strong, though there have been some missteps: technical problems that BBC attributed to the Olympics organizers’ broadcast services marred coverage of a cycling event.

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