July 30, 2014

Stadium Tech Report: Niners President Marathe confident that Levi’s Stadium network, apps will deliver as promised

Niners president Paraag Marathe (center) at Intersport Activation Summit panel.

Niners president Paraag Marathe (center) at Intersport Activation Summit panel.

So, Paraag Marathe — will the network at Levi’s Stadium live up to its considerable pre-launch billing and be ready to go when the stadium opens later this year?

“It better work, since we’ve been talking about it,” said Marathe Friday, during a panel discussion at the Intersport Activation Summit presented by SportsBusiness Journal/Daily in San Francisco. “We better be right.”

Even though the short history of in-stadium networks suggests that any new endeavor be launched with words of caution, Marathe and the San Francisco 49ers are instead confident — very confident — that their new stadium will launch with a network second to none, and have game-changing services like food and beverage delivery to seats and on-demand instant replay that will redefine the game-day experience.

Paraag Marathe, president, San Francisco 49ers

Paraag Marathe, president, San Francisco 49ers

In both his panel discussion at the Ritz-Carlton hotel and in an additional interview afterward, Marathe provided some additional details about plans the Niners have talked about previously for the technology features at the new stadium, which is located in Santa Clara, Calif., smack dab in the middle of Silicon Valley. Though Marathe said the stadium’s location — quite literally next door to several high-tech company campuses — made technology “part of the DNA,” he stressed Friday that the Niners are seeking to use technology to improve the fan experience, and not just to have cool stuff.

“It’s not technology for technology’s sake,” Marathe said. “It’s to enhance being at the game.”

But he did add that the stadium’s Wi-Fi network will be the base for much of the innovation.

Wi-Fi is ‘the master key’

An under-the-seat access point. Credit: Aruba Networks

An under-the-seat access point. Credit: Aruba Networks

The Wi-Fi network, which Marathe said “will absolutely be working” when the park opens, is “the master key that unlocks everything,” he said. Currently being built with Wi-Fi access point gear from Aruba Networks and back-end network equipment from Brocade Networks, the Levi’s Stadium Wi-Fi network will also have twin 10-Gigabit broadband pipes provided by Comcast to provide what Marathe said will be throughput “30 times more than any other stadium.”

Marathe said the Wi-Fi network is being built with what he calls a “spider web” of access points, though neither the Niners nor Aruba have yet said just how many access points will be used to create the network. There will also be a neutral-host cellular DAS at the stadium, built by DAS Group Professionals (DGP). Already, DGP has signed up the “big four” carriers of AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile, to use the DAS at the stadium.

What will the networks be used for? Marathe outlined four main points of technology innovation during his talk, including high-definition, on-demand replays via the new Niners stadium app; in-seat delivery of food and beverages to every seat; way-finding features to perform tasks like locating friends, finding parking spots, and to tell which bathroom lines are shortest; and paperless tickets, based on RFID and near-field communication to fans’ devices. Of the four, the replay idea and the food-delivery service stand out as massive technical and industrial challenges.

Promised: Better replays than those on TV

If there is one promise that has many in the stadium technology industry shaking their heads, it’s Marathe’s pledge of Levi’s being able to deliver “better replays than what the coaches are seeing,” since team coaches only get to see replays provided by the network broadcasts. The Niners, Marathe said, will have “a massive [internal] production crew” working on the replay feature, since replays not only need to be picked out of the video stream, they also need to be coded to work over the Internet and to be delivered to handsets. Though Marathe admitted that the video quality may dip a bit below true HD if a lot of fans try to watch replays at once, he told the conference crowd that the Niners’ stadium app is going to deliver “HD, slo-mo [replays] within seconds after a big play.”

While other stadiums, like Barclays Center in the NBA, use technologies like Cisco’s StadiumVision Mobile to deliver separate “channels” of live video and replays, Marathe said the Niners’ app will allow fans to choose their own replays and when they want to watch them. “If you have a [replay] channel, you’re subject to whatever is on that channel,” Marathe said.

The food-delivery feature, Marathe said, is more than putting a menu in an app — “it’s an immense industrial engineering exercise,” he said, to figure out things like how many runners are needed and when and how food needs to be prepared. In addition to food delivery — an option he said will be available to every seat in the 68,500-seat stadium — the Niners will also have “express pickup” lanes for digitally placed orders at concession stands, an idea that Marathe said helps eliminate or significantly reduce two of the three things that make concession interactions a time-consuming act.

“There’s decision time, transaction time, and preparation time,” Marathe said. “If you can eliminate two of three variables, that’s a few more minutes fans have to watch the game.” Waiting until fans show up at a stand to prepare the food will help keep the order fresh, he added.

Wayfinding, paperless tickets and the 9-Nerds

If there’s one idea that’s already gotten a lot of press, it’s the plan to have wayfinding technology assist features like the one that will let fans know how long the bathroom lines are. Marathe said the idea was to make it simple — “red light, yellow light, green light” — to let fans know that if they have to go, it might be faster to try the bathroom one section over.

“We’re really just trying to be smart,” said Marathe. Other wayfinding apps might include a parking-spot locator, or a friend-finder feature.

The fourth area where Marathe wants Levi’s to innovate in is paperless ticketing, which he said wouldn’t be 100 percent this year but it will eventually get there. A future scenario described by Marathe might use RFID or near-field communications to let fans simply walk through a gate without having to show a ticket or even a bar code to be scanned. Some ski areas, like Aspen and Vail in Colorado, already use such technology to let skiers get on lifts without having to show anyone their RFID-equipped lift tickets.

“The idea is to have greeters who can actually greet you” when you walk in, and perhaps extend a personal offer for discount goods purchases or seat upgrades, Marathe said. “It’s a more human interaction,” fueled by technology.

Wi-Fi coach in the stands at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Extreme Networks

Wi-Fi coach in the stands at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Extreme Networks

Finally, to help fans figure out how to use the new network and apps, Marathe confirmed plans previously reported by Mobile Sports Report to hire a crew of “network coaches” to roam the stands. According to Marathe the coaches will be called “9 Nerds” (say it quickly) and will likely be college students, dressed in what Marathe called “Poindexter outfits.” The Niners are looking to hire 150 such network helpers, which would be the largest such crew we’ve heard of in the stadium networking marketplace.

“They’ll stand out,” Marathe promised.

Lots of network use — and a team ready for its launch

With all the hype about the network, Marathe expects that Levi’s Stadium wireless usage will far eclipse that at other stadiums, where often far fewer than half of the fans in attendance actually ever use things like Wi-Fi or stadium apps.

“Forget 10 percent [fan network use], we’re going to see something higher,” Marathe said. Even people who don’t have digital devices, he said, will probably borrow one “just to bring it to Levi’s to test it out.”

When asked why his team was so confident — in an industry where under-promising seems to be a sensible way to go — Marathe said that both the Silicon Valley heritage and the greenfield nature of the building gives the Niners and Levi’s a technological edge.

“Five years ago, we put together a kind of think tank with VCs and design people, and thought about what would be useful [at a new stadium], well before we ever put a shovel in the ground,” Marathe said. And even though the Niners’ CTO left the team earlier this year, Marathe is confident that his crew of 25 engineers (which he said also still gets some consulting help from the departed CTO, Kunal Malik) will deliver the network and apps as promised.

Having advanced technology in the new stadium, Marathe said, “was our mandate — the DNA of the building is all these tech companies that are around us. It’s who we are.”

Stadium Tech Report: Upgrades keep San Francisco Giants and AT&T Park at front of stadium DAS and Wi-Fi league

Outside AT&T Park. All photos, Paul Kapustka, Mobile Sports Report. (Click on any photo for larger image)

Outside AT&T Park. All photos, Paul Kapustka, Mobile Sports Report. (Click on any photo for larger image)

What’s it like when the best-connected park in Major League Baseball loses its cellular mojo for a month? This winter the San Francisco Giants found out how fun it isn’t to revisit the days of “no signal,” when a DAS upgrade meant about 30 days of little to no connectivity inside AT&T Park.

“It was painful,” said Bill Schlough, senior vice president and chief information officer for the Giants, during a recent in-person interview at AT&T Park. Though no big sporting events took place during the Feburary-to-March overhaul of the main AT&T distributed antenna system (DAS) head end, Schlough said during that time many of the roughly 200 to 300 employees who work at AT&T Park every day were forced to find daylight to make a call, just like the bad old days before DAS.

“We never really knew how much we rely on DAS [for internal operations], but having it down really drove it home,” said Schlough. The good news on the DAS front was that once the upgrade was complete, the Giants had a lot more space in their previously cramped head-end headquarters. According to Schlough, the new back-end equipment for AT&T’s DAS operations takes up less than 50 percent of the previous gear footprint, room that is likely to be filled with gear from yet another carrier slated to join the AT&T neutral-host DAS later this season.

Painful, but worth it.

Second major upgrade in 5 years of DAS

Giants CIO Bill Schlough (left) talks with workers in the park's main DAS head end facility.

Giants CIO Bill Schlough (left) talks with workers in the park’s main DAS head end facility.

If you’re not familiar with a neutral DAS like the one at AT&T Park, it’s an implementation where there is one set of antennas and internal wiring, and then a “head end” where each carrier puts its cellular-specific networking gear, equipment that identifies and authorizes callers and then connects those calls or messages to fiber links back out to the Internet and beyond. As the lead provider of DAS and as the namesake sponsor of the park it makes sense that AT&T has the biggest DAS requirement on site. Verizon, which has been on the AT&T Park DAS for two years now, actually houses most of its head end gear in a separate facility nearby, and links to the AT&T Park system via fiber.

Part of this year’s DAS renovations include a new room specifically being built for Sprint’s DAS equipment, a sort of re-arrange-the-house construction project that saw the ballpark wall off half its painting services workshop to make space for Sprint’s gear. During our visit we saw workers putting up the racks that will hold the Sprint head end gear, as thick fiber cables snaked in the doorway.

Additional carrier(s) would likely be placed in the same room as AT&T and Verizon, on floor space that used to hold AT&T racks before those were un-drilled from the concrete floor and new racks were installed during the February-March overhaul. According to Schlough, the DAS upgrade (which required minimal tweaks to the previously installed DAS antennas) was the second major rip-and-replace action in the 5 years the DAS has been live at AT&T Park.

DAS performance improves over time; Wi-Fi is good too

White box at bottom is one of the under-the-seat Wi-Fi access points at AT&T Park.

White box at bottom is one of the under-the-seat Wi-Fi access points at AT&T Park.

Though Wi-Fi services in stadiums gets a lot of technology headlines, in many big arenas the DAS is an equal workhorse, connecting people who either don’t know how to or prefer not to connect to Wi-Fi services. Through the first 18 games of the 2014 season, Schlough said AT&T Park was seeing average AT&T traffic loads on the DAS of 150 Megabytes on the download side (fans requesting data) and 50 MB on the upload side (fans sending data). Figures for the Wi-Fi network (which is free to all customers) for the same span of games was an average of 400 MB download, 200 MB upload per game.

Schlough said performance stats for the AT&T portion of the DAS have improved vastly since the distributed antenna system was first put in.

“Just four or five years ago, 97 percent [connection rate] was actually relatively respectable,” Schlough said. Now, Schlough said network connect rates regularly hover in the “four nines” region, with a recent report showing a success rate of 99.9925 percent of all calls or texts going through.

The Wi-Fi network at AT&T Park, the first in any major sporting arena and still among the world’s most expansive, has more than 1,200 access points, many of which are now located beneath the seats. According to Schlough this coming offseason will likely represent the final phase of a stadium-wide deployment effort for the new, under-seat access points, which are installed symmetrically under the seats that are out in the open air.

Giants senior VP and CIO Bill Schlough, at the office

Giants senior VP and CIO Bill Schlough, at the office

Since AT&T Park doesn’t have many railings alongside the seats “in the bowl” or those in the upper decks, the under-the-seat APs were the only choice to extend Wi-Fi connectivity, he said. Though the box-like antennas do take away some under-seat storage area from approximately every 40th seat, Schlough said there haven’t been many complaints from fans about the gear.

What he has seen, however, are many compliments about the network services, especially from fellow professionals in the sports IT world.

“I get friends in the business who come here and send me texts with Speedtests attached, showing how great the Wi-Fi is,” said Schlough. My own ad hoc testing before our interview (albeit during non-game hours) showed speeds of greater than 40 Mbps for Wi-Fi just outside the park near McCovey Cove, and speeds of 25+ Mbps just outside the main gate. Schlough also showed us some of the new iBeacon antennas, which are being tested at MLB parks this summer to provide near-field communication marketing opportunities, like automatically checking fans in to the official At Bat app when they pass by a beacon. It’s just another way the best-connected park in baseball seeks to continue to improve the fan experience.

According to Schlough, the connectivity at AT&T Park doesn’t hurt when it comes to ticket sales.

“People do come here more frequently, I think, because they know there will be good connectivity,” said Schlough. “There’s no compromise. I do think that’s part of why we’re currently riding the third longest sellout streak in MLB history.”

MORE PHOTOS BELOW — CLICK ON IMAGES TO SEE LARGER VERSION

Can you find the iBeacon in the bowels of AT&T Park? It's the small grey box to the left of the other antenna.

Can you find the iBeacon in the bowels of AT&T Park? It’s the small grey box to the left of the other antenna.

Sprint's new DAS room at AT&T Park.

Sprint’s new DAS room at AT&T Park.

A close-up of the under-seat AP. Each AP requires holes drilled through concrete to provide wiring access. APs are weather-sealed, according to the Giants.

A close-up of the under-seat AP. Each AP requires holes drilled through concrete to provide wiring access. APs are weather-sealed, according to the Giants.

Bill Schlough's "old phones" collection. How many of these can you identify?

Bill Schlough’s “old phones” collection. How many of these can you identify?

IBM gets in the arena app game with LTE Broadcast support

IBM app for AjaxThis one of the more nuanced press releases we’ve seen in some time, but there seems to be some meat behind the idea of IBM helping to design an LTE broadcast enabled stadium app for the Amsterdam Arena.

We’ve reached out to the principals and so far no luck getting anyone on the phone, but we did get some more email info so I think I can piece together most of the story. Basically it appears that IBM has a mobile development program that is called, somewhat obviously, MobileFirst. For the Ajax soccer team, which plays in the 53,052-seat arena (which holds 68,000 for concerts) IBM helped develop an app that uses LTE broadcast to show multiple live video screens, while also allowing fans to interact with the app, doing things like voting for player of the game.

LTE Broadcast support is the thing that makes this particularly interesting for us, since it would be a way to make live video work without having to have a Wi-Fi network. However there are no details about whether a carrier is actually supporting the app in this fashion yet, or if it is live and in use. Good first step, IBM, but you need to do a better job explaining this “news.”

Screen shot of IBM app for Ajax football club. Credit: IBM

Screen shot of IBM app for Ajax football club. Credit: IBM

If you’re not familiar with LTE Broadcast (sometimes also called LTE multicast), it is a development around the cellular standard that allows service providers and/or teams and stadiums to use select airwaves as “broadcast” channels, a tactic that can deliver video in a much more efficient manner than, say, thousands of fans hitting a web page and requesting their own individual video feed. The one-to-many concept of LTE Broadcast is being embraced by U.S. carriers as well, and Verizon Wireless, which showed demos of the technology during Super Bowl week, is supposed to be doing another demo this weekend at the Indy 500.

Cisco’s SportsVision Mobile uses a similar distribution method (currently in use at the Barclays Center), but that technology takes advantage of in-building Wi-Fi. What’s not clear about LTE Broadcast in a stadium situation is whether or not you need extra equipment, or whether existing DAS deployments can handle LTE Broadcast without modification. Also unclear is whether or not client devices, like smartphones and tablets, need modification to run LTE Broadcast enabled apps.

From the press release and the screen shots, the IBM app for Ajax looks pretty good, but again, we’d want to talk to the folks at the stadium to see if it’s actually being used by real fans, or if this is still slideware. Anyone who lives over there who might go to the stadium, let us know if you know.

AT&T’s DAS and Wi-Fi network traffic for Final Four hits multiple Terabyte levels

AT&T StadiumWant to host a big sporting event? You better have a big network. Down in Texas, where everything’s big, AT&T had to go as large as possible to keep fans at the recent Final Four connected. According to AT&T, traffic on its cellular and Wi-Fi networks in and around AT&T Stadium surpassed terabyte levels during college basketball’s biggest weekend, with just over a TB of traffic on cellular and more than 4 TB on the stadium’s Wi-Fi network.

Granted, holding the final games of the college basketball season in a football stadium is sort of a guaranteed way to push the envelope when it comes to fan-phone traffic. With 79,444 fans at the semifinal games on April 5, this year’s event set a new record for most people at a college hoops game. Understandably, cell phone traffic also set records as according to AT&T its total data usage on cellular networks inside the stadium for all three games was 885 GB, up from 667 GB used at last year’s tourney in Atlanta and up from 376 GB used 2 years ago in New Orleans. When you throw in data usage at connected areas like the stadium parking lots, AT&T reported 1,268 GB of traffic, which is a massive amount of selfies.

And remember, this is JUST AT&T traffic. No telling how much T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon customers generated. Anyone at those companies want to let us know, please do so and we’ll add it all up.

In its press releases before the game AT&T made some noise about how it was doing cool things to prepare for the tournament crowd, like putting “stealth” DAS antennas below the court. Any hoops/hockey stadium IT director knows what’s going on there; when you put a basketball court into a facility that has normally wider fields (football or hockey rinks) you have a huge problem bringing connectivity to the VIP courtside seats. Hence, the solution for the Final Four: antennas below the court. Something that will probably be copied in a lot of arenas around the country.

On the Wi-Fi side, AT&T has one of the bigger and better Wi-Fi networks inside its namesake stadium, and it was put to heavy use as well. According to AT&T its stadium Wi-Fi network carried 4,035 GB of traffic total for the three games. Is your network ready for that kind of pressure? How high will this usage surge go? Have we seen the top yet or are connected fans just getting started?

Stadium Tech Report: Orlando Magic will use Wi-Fi to improve connections with fans

Amway Center prior to NBA opening night, 2013-14 season. Credit: Orlando Magic

Amway Center prior to NBA opening night, 2013-14 season. Credit: Orlando Magic

Here’s how fast things have moved in the world of sports fans using mobile devices: When the Orlando Magic’s Amway Center opened in 2010, it was considered a state of the art facility, with sustainable design and lots of creature comforts like bigger seats and 42-foot high main video screens on its center scoreboard. But for the new smartphones fans were starting to bring to games, there was no Wi-Fi network. So, like at many new arenas, the Amway Center tech team went back to the drawing board, to figure out how to best add the connectivity that is in demand at large public venues everywhere.

“When the Amway Center opened it was one of the most technically advanced buildings in the world,” said Jack Elkins, business innovations manager for the Orlando Magic, in a recent phone interview. Though the arena had Wi-Fi connectivity for luxury suites and for media, and a neutral-host DAS, there wasn’t a high-bandwith Wi-Fi network to service the balance of attendees at the 20,000-seat facility.

“At the time, public Wi-Fi for stadiums wasn’t [economically] viable,” Elkins said. But like smartphone design, Wi-Fi infrastructure equipment got cheaper, better and faster, and the arena team started making plans to deploy a network as quickly as possible, with an important caveat: They wanted to own the network themselves, to better take advantage of its ability to collect and share information with the fans who would be using it.

Amway Center outside shot. Credit: Amway Center

Amway Center outside shot. Credit: Amway Center

Owning your own Wi-Fi network

“We wanted to be one of the first teams [to put in Wi-Fi],” and by the 2012-13 season, the deployment was “financially palatable” to the building’s owner and operator, the central Florida city of Orlando. According to Elkins the Magic teamed with wireless infrastructure specialist AmpThink to help design and deploy the network, which the team wanted to own and operate instead of merely allowing a cellular carrier or another third party to run it.

“When we went to put in Wi-Fi we saw it as a capital investment — we wanted to own the network,” Elkins said. Jeff Lutes, vice president of technology for the Magic who also participated in the recent phone interview, said the team entered into a “unique relationship” with AmpThink, basically “giving them the arena as a testbed for new technology work.” What was the Magic’s overall goal? “Getting better analytics out of Wi-Fi,” Lutes said.

First came the difficult procedure of ripping into those brand new stadium walls to add technology, which included all the Wi-Fi access points and infrastructure.

“We had just opened this new and gorgeous building, and had to find ways to put up a Wi-Fi network incorporating antennas the size of 17-inch monitors in as an aesthetically pleasing way as possible,” said Elkins, expressing a frustration no doubt felt in many other existing facilities who are adding new stadium technology. “That was a very difficult thing for our venue.”

A strong partner means a deeper technical bench

On the technical side, the Magic’s tech team was able to rely on the bench strength of partners like AmpThink and Cisco, who made sure the deployment was forward-thinking enough to embrace the latest technologies, like the newer 5 GHz channels for Wi-Fi connectivity.

Orlando Magic in action at Amway Center. Credit: Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic in action at Amway Center. Credit: Orlando Magic

“The NBA is telling teams they’ll need to upgrade [networks] every 2 years but we won’t have to,” Elkins said. “Thanks to the foresight of Cisco and AmpThink, we have clients on both radios [2.4 GHz and 5 GHz] right now and as fans get newer devices they’ll be able to go to 5 GHz without us doing anything new.”

The fewer walls torn apart, the better.

“We had limited internal staff, many of whom needed to stay focused on day to day issues,” Elkins said. “AmpThink opened the door to keep us forward thinking.”

So far, Lutes said the Magic sees an average of about 2,700 fans using the Wi-Fi network during NBA games. Concerts usually see a higher use rate, something that also happens during “big” games — like when former Magic star Dwight Howard returned to Orlando a year ago while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. According to Lutes, the network saw 4,000 users on the night Howard returned.

App rollout and future connectivity goes both ways

Part of the future of the team’s extended connectivity with fans is just getting underway, with the rollout of an official in-stadium app. And when fans access the network for the first time, they are presented with a registration page that gives the team the ability to fine tune its marketing and outreach messaging, a key part of its overall strategy going forward.

“Fans have to opt in [to the marketing program] and it’s very valuable for us if they do,” Lutes said.

In addition to Magic games, the Amway Center also has concerts and minor league hockey games, averaging about 150 events during a calendar year. Since the city attracts tourists from all over the world for conventions and its theme parks, Lutes said the arena also attracts an interesting out-of-town crowd who may be taking in an NBA game during their visit to the city. So it’s important for the team and city ownership to know as much as possible about who is coming through the arena doors.

With the team’s analytics implementation, the Magic can tailor marketing messages for specific types of fans. Though people might worry about getting a bunch of spammy email if they opt in, Lutes said the team’s system works in the opposite manner.

“Our business analytics group can quickly tell if a marketing campaign is effective, and if it’s not we shut it down,” Lutes said. “We don’t blast a lot of messages. It’s less intrusive and more effective.”

And it’s all based on data accumulated via the network the Magic made sure it owned.

“We wouldn’t have access to this type of information if we didn’t own the Wi-Fi network,” Lutes said. “It sets the stage for more personalized messages down the road.”

NBC offers (limited) free live streaming as part of huge Winter Olympics online effort

sochilog

NBC has a pair of apps that enable live streaming of the XXII Winter Olympics games that will start today and has worked to smooth the way for users with a temporary free pass that will enable them to watch the games prior to proper verifications.

The free viewing time is a bonus one that diminishes the more it is used, but it should be plenty of time for a viewer to go through the verification process while not missing an event, or at least part of an event. Unverified viewers will initially start with a one-time 30-minute temporary pass the first time they start streaming a live event. After that it is just a courtesy, really just showing you what you are missing by allowing 5 minutes of viewing per day for unverified users.

HERE IS THE LINK TO THE MAIN NBC OLYMPICS SITE

Campbell Foster, director of product marketing for Adobe Primetime, the infrastructure software being used by NBC for the Olympics online streaming, said that the free verification trials are designed to simply help people watch more sports, faster.

“When you don’t require the [verification] login, the engagement rate is 3x,” Foster said in a phone interview. He also noted that even many paying subscribers either aren’t aware they even have a cable contract password, and if they are aware, many don’t know it. The grace periods, he said, lets people start watching action online while they look up their subscription records, instead of reversing that process.

Two apps: One for live coverage, one for highlights

If you want to watch the games online from a mobile device, here is the official explanation from NBC about which app you want — NBC Sports Live Extra, or NBC Olympics Highlights and Results:

“For the first time ever, the NBC Sports Live Extra app will live stream every Winter Olympics competition. In all, the app will live stream more than 1,000 total programming hours, including all 15 sports, the awarding of all 98 medal events and exclusive event rewinds. NBC Sports Live Extra will also live stream the Olympic content that airs on NBC and the four NBCU cable channels carrying coverage of the Sochi Games — NBCSN, MSNBC, CNBC and USA Network. The app will also feature full event replays, exclusive highlights, events schedules, TV listings, and customizable event alerts.”

And:

“The NBC Olympics Highlights and Results app is the exclusive home for NBC Olympics’ award-winning coverage, including short-form highlights, television and streaming schedules, and NBCOlympics.com columns. The NBC Olympics Highlights and Results app provides real-time official event results, medal winners, interesting facts, team rosters and bios on Team USA Olympians for the most comprehensive coverage of the Sochi Games.” You can find both apps via your respective device app store.

The games, which run from Feb. 6 to the 23, are being used by NBC, in part, of a larger effort to push the idea of TV Everywhere, something that includes mobile digital devices such as smartphones and tablets.

NBC Olympics has, in conjunction with its partners in the cable/satellite/telco industry, enhanced the verification process and added new features in recent days as the games approached. There is now In-Home Verification started on Feb. 6 that enables auto-verification of devices by customers of Comcast’s Xfinity TV, Cox Communications, Cablevision’s Optimum TV and Midcontinent Communications (Midco). It is able to do this because it has the ability to recognize customers’ IP addresses and cross-references those addresses with subscriber accounts.

“If you are using a device on the home network that is the same as your paid TV subscription, you won’t have to log in,” said Adobe’s Foster. “It’s just part of NBC Sports setting the vanguard for a better user experience.”

A second and very interesting feature is the addition of cross domain verification. What this does is accept the registration of customers that had previously verified their subscriptions with Adobe Pass on NBCUniversal network websites and applications.

Overall NBC will be streaming all competition from the 15 sports that are at this Winter Olympics, a total of 98 events. They will be available from either NBCOlympics.com or via the NBC Sports Live Extra app.
To verify follow these simple steps:

1. Go to NBCOlympics.com/LiveExtra
2. Click the “Verify Now” button or the “sign in” link
3. Select your cable, satellite or telco provider
4. Enter the username and password that corresponds with your account
5. Upon verification of your subscription to an Olympics-eligible package, you will be signed in throughout the Games on that device. (You must validate each device once)

Additional reporting by Paul Kapustka.