Radnor company spreads a variety of information on a variety of platforms

Stuart James of Rovi Corp., whose Olympics data are fed to TV, mobile devices, the Web, and social media.
Stuart James of Rovi Corp., whose Olympics data are fed to TV, mobile devices, the Web, and social media. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 23, 2014

RADNOR Five televisions line the walls of the "war room," an otherwise unremarkable conference room in one of several buildings in a Radnor office complex on Matsonford Road.

Showing on each set is an event on NBC or its affiliates at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The TVs face a long table where a "sports content team," a half-dozen writers equipped with laptops, has worked throughout the Games, compiling data and profiles of the top athletes, and teams for distribution, throughout the North American English-speaking digital world.

Starting in the war room, the data are distributed and used in all different ways - as event descriptions, profiles, history - across all different platforms - TV, mobile devices, the Web, and social media.

It may be the description of an event crawling along the bottom of the big-screen TV you are watching in a restaurant, or a profile of 15-year-old Russian ice skater Julia Lipnitskaia you are reading on your smartphone while stuck in traffic.

"It's become a mammoth effort to track all this coverage," said Stuart James, a content manager for Rovi Corp., who lives in Chadds Ford. "The Olympics is tough stuff."

Rovi, based in Santa Clara, Calif., supplies information on TV programs, movies, celebrities, books, games, and sports to content providers in 55 countries so the programmers can more easily link up with consumers.

In addition to the English-speaking writers, a team of Latin American writers works out of Radnor, and a team that handles the European market is based in Luxembourg.

Rovi's data include identifier tags, keywords, and links so viewers can search and quickly find what they want on any device at any time.

For these Olympics, Rovi said it expected to log more than 700 hours of coverage over 17 days and supply information in 10 languages to more than 20 countries.

"We started working on this seven to eight months ago," James said. "We're watching the live coverage. [That] lets us get a head start" on what viewers will want to see.

For the Olympics, results are updated live as they play out on the screen from across the Atlantic Ocean. The content team - one of several in the building that supply information - gives context to the action, updates the profiles of expected medalists, and pulls together new profiles of unexpected winners.

"We identified [earlier] some athletes that we'd want to profile," James said. The group creates the new ones on the fly.

While it is no longer new to compile previews, reviews, and profiles for TV scheduling guides or other metadata for the digital world - Rovi's focus on websites and TV scheduling guides began around 2007 - James said these Olympics far outnumber previous Games in hours of TV screen time (1,500) and live coverage (539), and the number of ways consumers can access the information.

"It's something my kids are totally comfortable with," James said, meaning people watching TV, tapping their laptops, and scrolling their phones all at once.

Still, for Jones and his team, one thing is most important: the information.

"It's always exciting to see these young athletes come up and take the event by the scruff of the neck," he said. "It's the story of the athlete that takes center stage."


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