BBC.co.uk preps for Olympic coverage

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London will soon enter the spotlight as the 2012 Summer Olympics get underway; and so will the British Broadcasting Corporation, which is under immense pressure as it overhauls the "Sport" section of BBC.co.uk.

"The BBC is going to be getting a lot of traffic--many, many, many millions of page impressions a day through the Olympics. Probably one-third of the U.K. internet will be coming to the BBC, so we need to prepare on the backend," said Jem Rayfield, BBC's senior technical architect of future media and technology.

Fortunately, just two years ago BBC took on a similar project for its World Cup coverage that transitioned the Sport site to dynamic semantic publishing, or DSP, explained Rayfield, who spoke at MarkLogic World in Washington, D.C. May 2.

Since the redesign, BBC's website relies more heavily on application programing interfaces, or APIs, and an API stack that utilizes MarkLogic. Rayfield said they've created REST APIs for "pretty much any type of stuff you can think of." But the sheer amount of "stuff" is going to explode with Olympic coverage.

For World Cup 2010 there were 32 teams, 8 groups and 736 players. This amounted to 776 pages, as there were pages that combine fixtures and results, groups, and teams, said Rayfield.

The Olympic site scales this concept much further, considering there are more than 10,000 Olympic athletes, more than 200 teams, 400 to 500 disciplines and dozens of venue pages, he said.

Updating that many pages in a static CMS would be nearly impossible for the reporters filing updates, but with the DSP architecture more than 10,000 possible dynamic aggregations that can now be updated automatically, said Rayfield.

The process is also made smoother by a content store, running on MarkLogic, which allows results and stats to be updated quickly across the website. This means the site can quickly post stat boxes and visualizations that adapt in real-time as scores change.

 

Assuming BBC executes Olympic coverage as planned, using the new architecture, Rayfield said it will take the lessons learned from BBC Sport and redesign BBC News later in 2012. BBC News currently uses a hybrid of static and dynamic web architectures and Rayfield said they aim to re-engineer it to use a fully-dynamic approach.

For more:
- see Rayfield's presentation slide deck

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