Wimbledon Is Here and We’re Giving The Championships To You Live

Can’t make it across the ocean to see The Championships, Wimbledon next week? Don’t worry, neither can we. But we’re not going to let a few thousand miles get in your way of still having an up-close and personal experience this year.

NBC Sports and the All England Lawn Tennis Club announced on Monday the all-new Live at Wimbledon, which will be powered by Silverlight. As of yesterday, Live at Wimbledon will be providing streaming video access to The Championships; plus, matches will be streamed live beginning with NBC’s coverage on Saturday, June 27. This is the first time that coverage of The Championships will be widely available in the U.S. via FREE live online streaming, made possible by Microsoft’s IIS7 Smooth Streaming technology.

When we first started talking about streaming The Championships, Wimbledon, we were definitely excited, but knew it was going to take a village to make it possible. Wim1_thumbAfter agreeing to work with NBC Sports back in April of this year, we had only two weeks to figure out not only if we could pull it off in time, but who we needed in order to do so. Given that we only had eight weeks until The Championships started, you can only imagine how fast we had to put the pedal to the metal.

We already had a solid foundation to start from, with the successful broadcast of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on NBCOlympics.com, and Live at Wimbledon presented an opportunity to begin to take advantage of the features of Silverlight 3 as we prepare for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics Games.

For this adventure, we first needed someone to manage the encoding of all theWim2_thumb live content that will be offered. We knew immediately  to turn to iStreamPlanet (see the full press release) for their history in managing some of the most highly-visible online events, including the Presidential Inauguration, SXSW and Masters Golf Tournament, just to name three of the thousands that they have been involved in.

We also chose iStreamPlanet to not only encode all of the media content, but called upon their design prowess as well to create and deploy a custom Microsoft Silverlight-based media experience, which will leverage the latest Microsoft Internet Information Services 7.0 (IIS7) Smooth Streaming technology. Additionally, iStreamPlanet’s digital asset management product, iStream Director will manage all the file-based transcoding for match replays and highlights.

So what does this all mean exactly? Well, some pretty cool features and functionalities all at the tips of your fingers, including (but certainly not limited to):

· Live HD Smooth Streaming

· Video-On-Demand HD and SD Smooth Streaming (which will be used for highlights and match replays)

· Integrated Advertising

· Instant Replay (in case you want to see Roger Federer’s forehand one more time), and

· Deep-linking via RSS feed (which provides the ability to link to the media player from external sources and invoke playback of the desired media clip you’d like to watch).

Wim3_thumb The most exciting part about this project and in partnering with iStreamPlanet is that together, we are bringing tennis fans a high quality viewing experience that has never before been offered online. Through all of these technologies, we can actually address how people want to consume media – online, all free, sliced and diced however you want it, and all beautifully delivered to match the quality that you would get from an HD feed on TV. That’s a tall order, and we’ve linked arms with some amazing companies and thought leaders to make it all happen.

And when we said this kind of project takes a village, we meant it. In addition to iStreamPlanet, we also had to call upon content delivery network (CDN) partner Akamai to provide the media delivery, Inlet Technologies to provide the encoding technology, NBC’s partner IMG who is managing the event logistics at Wimbledon, and their partner Perform Group, who is handling the encoding of the 4 WMV court feeds and providing archives of the matches.

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We’re thankful to all our partners who made this event come together. Be sure to check out the court action at NBCSports.com or Wimbledon.org. Tennis fans can also follow Live at Wimbledon on twitter.com/NBCWimbledon.

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