The next Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, kick off on February 8 and people with vision-based disabilities won't be left out of the events, Comcast and NBC promise. That's because no fewer than 18 primetime telecasts of the Olympics, including both opening and closing ceremonies, will feature video descriptive services provided by Descriptive Video Works. The news probably won't be too shocking to anybody who happened to watch the 2016 Rio Olympics since the services were provided by both companies for those events as well. As of this writing, it isn't immediately clear whether all events will be covered by VDS or if any associated Winter Olympics 2018 applications will include a similar feature for their respective footage. NBC has revealed that its on-demand content will also include the feature but did not specify if that included its Android application. The offering presumably won't include NBC's VR platform either.
In the meantime, another unknown is whether or not VDS will be included with offerings from other companies who plan to stream or broadcast the Winter Games, such as Samsung or DirecTV. Since NBC is the official partner of the games this year, the footage used and broadcast by other companies will come directly from its operations. In particular, DirecTV's own broadcasts will also be on a timed delay. That would seem to suggest that the company could easily choose to include the VDS audio for its own offerings. However, there have been no reports or announcements made suggesting that the company would be offering the service as well. So there's no way to know at this point whether that will be included.
For those who aren't aware of what VDS is, they are effectively short audio descriptions associated with video content. Those descriptions include highly descriptive narratives of the environment shown in the footage, actions taken by key individuals, facial expressions, attire, and on-screen graphics. For the Winter Games, that will almost certainly include audio readouts of team standings, scores, and other important aspects of the athletics. Descriptive Video Works was chosen as the partner for the initiative because of its years of extensive experience in providing VDS services specifically for sporting events, NBC and Comcast said.