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Front Row to Rio: A Sneak Peek at Gold Medal Innovation

August 5, 2016

By Meg Campbell

From across the globe, 11,384 athletes from 206 countries are embarking on the #RoadtoRio for the 2016 Summer Olympics. They will go for the gold in 42 sports and 306 events in 37 venues. Best of all? You don’t have to miss a single minute.

To celebrate and mark the occasion, Comcast NBCUniversal hosted The 2016 Rio Olympics: An Insider’s Look at the Most Technologically Advanced Olympics in History at the Ace Hotel Pittsburgh.

A New Way to Watch History Being Made

The crowd excitedly conversed about their must-watch events and favorite athletes as they enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and local brews and libations made with Pittsburgh favorites Maggie’s Farm Rum, Wigle Whiskey and Boyd & Blair.

As fans of lesser-known events lamented about lack of airtime and beach volleyball fans wished their favorite sport started before their bedtime, Greg Wells, senior director of products and general manager of Xfinity Home at Comcast, stepped in to share innovative solutions to watchers’ woes.

Wells lead a demonstration of what X1 customers can expect when they watch the game, showing off “the most comprehensive and technically advanced coverage in Olympic history.”

Xfinity will be making more than 6,000 hours of Olympic coverage available to customers, who can use X1 to search for any event, athlete or nation, watch non-televised events and track their favorite athletes.

Greg Wells showing off impressive features such as the Front Row to Rio and the Gold Zone.

Greg Wells showing off impressive features such as the Front Row to Rio and the Gold Zone. Photo: Meg Campbell.

It gets even cooler. Ask your X1 remote, “How old is Gabby Douglas?” and the answer appears on the bottom of your TV. Ask how Team U.S.A. is doing and the full results will appear next to the live feed.

Wells was quick to point out that the innovation and technology being brought to the experience was a supplement to, not substitute for, the compelling storytelling audiences love. “This is still going to be about telling stories. We’re combining NBC’s tremendous storytelling abilities with Comcast’s technology.”

An Olympian in Pittsburgh

One of those great stories is that of Suzie McConnell-Serio. McConnell-Serio is a native Pittsburgher, the head coach of the University of Pittsburgh’s women’s basketball team, USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team head coach and two-time Olympic medalist.

“I’m sure my parents wish this had been around back then instead of getting up at 4 a.m. to watch my games!” McConnell-Serio said with a laugh, nodding to her parents in the audience.

Suzie McConell-Serio with parents Tom and Susan McConnell.

Suzie McConell-Serio with parents Tom and Susan McConnell. Photo: Meg Campbell.

McConnell-Serio brought both her 1988 gold medal and 1992 bronze medal, along with inspirational stories of her two summer games as a member of the USA Women’s Basketball Team.

“Standing on the podium with your team and the gold medal…there is no greater moment in sports,” McConnell-Serio shared. “Every time you go there the support of the country is unbelievable.”

Commitment to Community

Christine Whitaker, regional senior vice president of Comcast’s Keystone Region, shared more details about Comcast’s commitment to the area.

“We’re making significant investments in the Pittsburgh region. We opened a corporate headquarters just outside of Robinson,” Whitaker offered. “We’re truly here and investing to stay.”

In addition to being Pittsburgh’s leading multi-gigabit service provider, they’re also the mobility leader in the area, providing more than 2500 wifi hotspots. They’re transforming the way college students watch videos by providing IP TV services to students at Carnegie Mellon University and making sure students of all ages have affordable online access.

“Bridging the digital divide and expanding digital access to our youth is one of the things we are proudest of,” noted Whitaker. 

Watch the Opening Ceremony in Rio live on NBC starting at 7 p.m. tonight.