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NBC stretches Olympic assets with Sekani pact

NBC Olympics has tapped asset-management and stock-footage firm Sekani to be its exclusive media-management partner beginning with the 2000 Sydney Games. Under the deal, Sekani (formerly FootageNow) will help develop a new architecture for NBC's extensive Olympics archives. The company will also produce a series of highlight tapes that will be sold as NBC's "Commemorative Olympic Home Videocassette" collection through NBC, NBC/ Quokka Ventures Inc. and e-commerce retailers.

Sekani has been on-site throughout the Sydney Games "ingesting" the digital video created by NBC's production facility in the International Broadcast Center (IBC) and sending it back to the editing staff in New York so Sekani could quickly begin producing the highlight tapes for mid-October release.

"We're marrying our digital ingest with the OPUS logging system [NBC's proprietary system]," says Rob Pavlin, Sekani executive vice president. "We're taking the 601 feed and ingesting it directly into an [MPEG-2] encoding station, writing them to DTF files and storing them on DVD-R."

Sekani is also creating a new work flow for NBC Olympic's archiving process. The company has created what Pavlin calls a "proof-of-concept" rack for the IBC that takes over 3,000 assets in Sekani's database and marries them to the OPUS logs.

To generate an additional Olympics revenue stream, Sekani will also be marketing some of NBC's extensive noncompetition Olympics footage to the stock-footage market. But Zenkel points out that the deal doesn't mean NBC has handed over all of its media-management requirements to Sekani.

Sekani, which counts Corbis, iXL and RRE Ventures as investors, will now start drawing an NBC Olympics archive blueprint for the next two or three years. The goal is to store material on a robotic tape system, such as a Sony Petasite, and make both low- and high-res content available to desktop users, says Pavlin.