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The Internet and the Beijing Olympic Games
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By Wang Wenbin

General Manager of CCTV.com

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Beijing hosted a spectacular, uplifting, and distinctive Olympic Games. Statistics from an online survey showed that 231 million or 89.9 percent of Chinese Internet users watched the Olympic Games online; over one billion hours of live and recorded broadcasts were played on CCTV.com and its 100-odd partner websites during the 17-day Games, averaging 60 million hours per day; Chinese online media published over 3.3 million items of Olympic news, averaging some 20,000 per day. These are unprecedented statistics.

Results of a survey conducted by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) showed that 85 percent of Internet users were satisfied with the online coverage of the Olympic Games in terms of the amount and accuracy of information, the timeliness of the coverage, the variety of forms in which the coverage was presented, and its interactivity.

Online TV has expanded the territory of TV broadcasting

During the Olympic Games, CCTV provided nine channels delivering live and recorded broadcasts of 2,715 hours of coverage of 1,944 Olympic events, and CCTV.com provided a separate channel for all 28 Olympic sports and covered all events live – a total of 3,800 hours. CCTV.com also delivered 9,732 webcasts totaling 4,013 hours. Online broadcasts far exceeded conventional TV broadcasts in terms of total hours, and CCTV.com became the world's first new media organization to deliver live and recorded broadcasts of an entire Olympic Games.

CCTV.com broadcast the Games in cooperation with other eight domestic websites including Sina.com.cn, Sohu.com, 163.com, and QQ.com, forming the biggest broadcasting platform in the Olympic history. 90 percent of China's Internet users accessed the nine websites during the Olympics, resulting in an average of 6.329 billion page views (PV) and 138 million unique visitors (UV) per day, greatly outnumbering the 65 million TV viewers per day during the same period. Online broadcasts made a record impact on Olympic broadcasts.

Internet technology delivers a fresh user experience

Unlike live TV broadcasts, watching a live online broadcast is interactive. Internet users can access real-time updates of scores, results, and information about athletes, and they can share their comments on the events with other Internet users at any time. During the Olympics, every day an average of 45,000 CCTV.com users posted comments while watching the Games on the site, and 70,000 watched our live broadcast of the opening ceremony.

CCTV.com provided video at two data rates – 357K for connection speeds lower than 1M and 500K for connection speeds higher than 1M, and wide-screen high definition channels. Due to our adoption of the P2P live broadcast system, we could handle as many as 8 million simultaneous requests and collapses such as the one that happened to the Games ticket booking website never occurred. Those users who couldn't download the P2P plug-in were provided with video in CDN format which does not need a plug-in.

We also set up a website with special audio facilities for people with visual impairments, allowing them to enjoy the Olympic Games online with everyone else.

With the help of Flash Video (FLV), CCTV.com launched an online Olympic TV site -- CCTVOLYMPIC.com, presenting a 3D "channel wall" which guided viewers through the 60 channels of coverage. On the day of the Opening Ceremony alone, CCTVOLYMPIC.com received 150 million hits.

CCTV.com provides broadcast services using streaming media technology. Streaming media cell-phone TV made "watch live, and request repeat" a reality and we delivered point to point broadcasts to 600 million mobile phone users. The mobile TV broadcasting format CMMB (China Mobile Media Broadcasting) uses satellite communications to provide a smooth signal. The image quality of mobile TV is as good as a VCD.

Thanks to point-to-point download technology, passengers on 50,000 buses in 30 Chinese cities and 30 KFC fast-food restaurants in Beijing and Shenzhen were also able to watch the Games, helping to satisfy people's insatiable demand for Olympic news.

The Internet allowed users to genuinely participate in the Games

Fourteen ordinary people were invited to act as commentators for the live broadcasts of the Olympics Games. As ordinary Internet users, they commented on the Games in a free and informal manner, and other users were able to chat with them simultaneously. In this way, ordinary people became full participants in the Games.

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