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    IP in 2018 – Changing the Game for Live Sports Production

    In part two in a two-part series, we reflect on the advancement of IP within the broadcast industry.

    In the second installment of our two-part blog on where the industry is with IP, we look at live sports production: one of the areas where IP-based solutions are a real game changer for broadcasters and production companies.

    As a high-value, premium genre, live sports production has always been an early adopter of new standards and new infrastructure tools. More recently, it has been ahead of the IP adoption curve — taking advantage of the condensed footprint of network infrastructure in trucks to meet the growing demand for 4K UHD and HDR content, which would generally be difficult to do with legacy SDI. What we now see are broadcasters utilizing IP circuits and dark fiber to achieve the same workflows across geographic barriers with remote production models.

    With the cost of sports rights consistently on the rise, broadcasters today are under pressure to better utilize their resources and maximize the value of their content. They also need to meet consumer demand for high-quality content by expanding coverage beyond premium events. Covering big sporting events in the traditional way is a massive physical undertaking for broadcasters and production companies, with large volumes of equipment that need transporting and a huge production staff required on site for support. All of this, of course, comes at a significant cost.

    Remote production environments, based around an IP backbone, enable broadcasters and production companies to send far less equipment and staff to a live event — with no impact on the program viewed. By delivering low-latency video, audio and control signals back to home base, production staff can achieve the same workflows they would on-site from remote production hubs. Switching, replay, editing and other positions can be done remotely with little effect on workflow.

    IP infrastructure and workflows ensure that there is zero impact on the end product and provide the same capabilities as a traditional OB or studio set up. Grass Valley undertook a real-world trial during the 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Final in July 2017 to demonstrate how remote production can really benefit broadcasters. The Grass Valley IP system — which replaced a standard OB and studio setup — delivered live, uncompressed 4K UHD camera signals from the stadium in Poland to BT Sport's facility in London — 1600 km away — for production and transmission. With the exception of five camera operators, the rest of the production team was able to work on this event from London just as seamlessly as from an OB truck on-location.

    This type of remote production setup means teams can cover more than one event in a day, enabling broadcasters to utilize staff and equipment in more creative and efficient ways, expand coverage of each event and drive down costs. Everyone wins.

    Looking ahead, we expect remote production to become an increasingly compelling solution for sports broadcasters as they strive to meet consumer demands for more high-quality content and innovative new multiplatform services.

    To find out more about our IP solutions for Live Production, come visit us at IBC 2018 (#9.A01)

    - Matt

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