The History of Olympic Broadcasting

By Ethan L.

Olympic broadcasting has changed from decade to decade. Broadcast coverage is so important because it connects people from around the world, so that they can experience the magic of the Games. At the end of the 19th century, the Games were shown in cinemas before the days of television. This type of broadcast gave viewers a feeling of being at the Games. The films of the Games took several weeks to arrive at the cinemas around the world. Even though there was a delay, viewers did not care; they were just happy to be part of the excitement.

In the 1920s, radio invented live broadcasting of the Olympics. Families would get together around the radio and listen to the stories, news and, eventually, live broadcasting of sporting events! In 1924, the Paris Olympic Games were broadcast on Radio Paris. It invented sports commentary with journalist Edmond Dehorter. From the 1930s to the 1960s, radio was the number one source for the Games.

The Olympics were first broadcasted on TV starting with the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin but was only intended for viewers locally. Television was beginning to become new to people in the early stages, and not a lot of people could afford the luxury of modern televisions. Footage of the Olympic Games was transmitted directly to the homes of many. Filming was live and many different events took place and were captured within seconds.

In the 1960s, television had made technological advancements. This decade had a number of firsts for broadcasting. In Rome 1960: the first live broadcasts in many European countries. Tokyo 1964: the first satellite broadcast. In Mexico City 1968: the irst wireless, hand-held color cameras.

Broadcasting became more sophisticated in the 1970s. Specifically designed cars carried cameramen and equipment that could move with the action of the Games. Portable cameras and video recorders were designed so that cameramen could film the competition. Images from portable cameras were broadcasted live. Although there was a lot of advancement in broadcasting technology, the cameras and video recorders were very heavy and clunky. Cameramen had difficulty maneuvering and recording.

In the 1980s and 1990s, there came a new audio format on televisions. It was the “Stereo” audio format. We also had the “Mono” audio format as well. High Definition took its early stages, and wide-screen TVs were now available for their preferences.

The new millennium arrived, and with the Internet taking center stage, Olympic fans were able to watch and see the Olympics on the Internet. Network broadcasters made their own websites for Olympic fans. For example, NBC, the American broadcaster who has the rights to the Olympics, made a website in 2004. The website name was “”, and the main purpose was to give the viewers some idea to see which sports were able to be seen across all of NBCUniversal’s networks.

Another focus of broadcasting was to be bringing out televised video clips, medal standings and live results. In 2008, the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China, were the first to be televised in High Definition. During that year, it was reported that both ESPN and ABC were wanting to broadcast the 2014 Winter Games/2016 Summer Games, along with other networks wanting to participate in the bidding process.

3D and HD are becoming old news, and 4K, 8K, HFR and HDR are becoming the newest innovations of the Olympic Games of the future. Watching it on television, on computers and on phones gives viewers the chance to experience the magic of new innovations. Currently, the Tokyo Games averaged roughly 15.3 million for Saturday’s primetime coverage, and 19.8 million for Sunday’s coverage on NBC. NBC said the Tokyo Olympics streamed 735 million total minutes through Sunday, including the USA Men’s Basketball game.

In conclusion, this was how the Olympic Games were all made and seen by viewers around the world. Back in 1936, there weren’t a lot of inventions at that time, but at the present time, there are futuristic innovations all used for broadcasting the Games, so that viewers can experience the magic of the Olympic Games.

Student Bio

Ethan L.

2021 Summer Program

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