With the Games of the XXXI Olympiad from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, also known as Rio 2016, officially opening on Friday, the global satellite industry is prepared to bring media coverage of the Games to billions of viewers around the world. Like every Olympic Games since 1964, commercial communications satellites will once again carry television and media coverage from the Games, this time to an anticipated global audience of over 3.5 billion people – live and as it happens.

Satellites will play an integral role in virtually all the Games coverage, both in the U.S. and abroad. Commercial satellite operators and Satellite Industry Association members Eutelsat, Intelsat, SES and Telesat, who collectively operate more than 150 geostationary satellites, are providing satellite connectivity to broadcasters and news organizations so they may transmit live video content of the events as they happen to locations around the world.

Thanks to the capabilities of the satellite industry, NBC Olympics has announced the TV networks and digital platforms of NBCUniversal (a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation) plan to air an unprecedented 6,755 hours of American programming for the Games. Olympic television viewers can then watch either via direct-to-home satellite TV companies, such as DIRECTV and DISH (with operations provided by EchoStar), or via over the air and cable TV services that receive Olympic coverage from satellite feeds delivered via their terrestrial cable head-end facilities.

For more than 50 years, satellites have played a key role in transporting video content from live events, such as the moon landings, World Cup and the Olympics. Communications satellites have been transmitting coverage of the Olympic Games since 1964, when the very first commercial geostationary satellite, Syncom 3, beamed the world’s first live color television broadcast of the Tokyo Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies back to the U.S. This was the first time that U.S. viewing audiences could watch an overseas sporting event in real time, replacing the need to physically ship recorded tapes for viewers to watch, often days after the event.

Every Olympiad since has relied on communications satellites to broadcast ever-increasing coverage of the Games to an audience that now totals billions of viewers around the world. In, 2012, the London 2012 Summer Games were broadcast to an estimated global audience of over 3.6 billion persons in 220 countries and territories.

Other Satellite Applications

Satellite imaging and earth observation will also play a role at the Olympics. DigitalGlobe, a leading provider of high resolution earth observation solutions has announced it will be providing international governments and security agencies with imagery and information to enhance the safety of athletes, dignitaries, and spectators. Customers will be provided with cloud-based access to historical and near-real time high resolution satellite imagery, a robust data set describing the local environment, and a highly detailed Digital Surface Model (DSM) of Rio de Janeiro and the Olympic venues.

About The Satellite Industry Association

SIA is a U.S.-based trade association providing representation of the leading satellite operators, service providers, manufacturers, launch services providers, and ground equipment suppliers. For more than two decades, SIA has advocated on behalf of the U.S. satellite industry on policy, regulatory, and legislative issues affecting the satellite business. For more information, visit www.sia.org.

SIA Executive Members include: The Boeing Company; DIRECTV; EchoStar Corporation; Intelsat S.A.; Iridium Communications Inc.; Kratos Defense & Security Solutions; Ligado Networks; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Northrop Grumman Corporation; OneWeb; SES Americom, Inc.; Space Exploration Technologies Corp.; SSL; and ViaSat, Inc. SIA Associate Members include: ABS US Corp.; Artel, LLC; COMSAT Inc.: DigitalGlobe Inc.; DRS Technologies, Inc.; Eutelsat America Corp.; Global Eagle Entertainment; Glowlink Communications Technology, Inc.; Hughes; iDirect Government Technologies; Inmarsat, Inc.; Kymeta Corporation; O3b Limited; Panasonic Avionics Corporation; Planet; TeleCommunication Systems, Inc.; Telesat Canada; TrustComm, Inc.; Ultisat, Inc.; and XTAR, LLC.