The Biggest Game in Town


Kieron Seth# TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
The Biggest Game in Town
Annually, as the Super Bowl approaches, stores across the States stack their shelves with the latest HDTV sets. Advertising sales teams cancel all holidays and prepare for a feeding frenzy. Networks bid in earnest to win exclusive game broadcasting rights. And new media innovators roll out their latest online and mobile apps to capture internet audiences and maximise press attention.
Why such an intense surge of activity? Simple: 117 million wealthy worldwide viewers. While many Europeans are still scratching their heads trying to understand what the fuss is all about and why there seems to be more advertising breaks than line breaks, the Superbowl rolls on, bigger than ever.
This year's match in Indianapolis was media heaven. Viewers were treated to an HD sporting spectacular, with operators using TV technology ubiquitous, in and around the stadium. Twenty-nine OB trucks packed with video switchers, routers and signal conversion modules were stationed to manage the operation. Pitchside, NBC's HD camera systems and slow-mo systems relayed every second and every angle, all connected by miles and miles of fibre optic cabling.
Failure was unthinkable; outages, no matter how brief, unacceptable. Commercials revenue was enormous, demanding that the broadcaster deliver the audience the advertisers expect. And at an average $3.5 million per slot, expectations were sky high. Into this high finance hot bed crept new low-cost, IT-based TV equipment.
Broadcast Meets IT
Given the vast investment in broadcast equipment and transmission infrastructure, it is tempting to believe that broadcasters still depend slavishly on reassuringly expensive equipment throughout their workflow. Yet anyone following the incursion into television centres by equipment from the likes of Apple's Final Cut Pro and Blackmagic Design over the last five years will know that this is no longer always the case.
However, the one part of the television establishment that has been untouched by commodity-level technology is the all-important video contribution - the transport of video feeds from the field to the broadcaster. An increasing number of intriguing low-cost options are now on the market as a technology competitive to costly satellite systems and cumbersome microwave units.
Introduced only a year ago, Teradek's miniature Cube devices sits on top of cameras and encodes feeds to H.264 for distribution to a decoder using standard wired or wireless IT networks. Cube has become a favoured remote production monitoring tool and is also used for low-cost live streaming of events over the Internet, either direct from a camera or via a production switcher. The newly introduced Case goes one step further. Built around multiple Cube units, it provides a powerful on-set video assist solution for drama and feature film monitoring, proxy file recording and director's commentary. All this has become available to broadcasters from a Cube unit whose base price is under £1,000.
Cameras off the Leash
At Super Bowl 2012, a new kind of commodity-priced equipment fed screens nationwide, demonstrating how low-cost IT technology has entered the broadcast toolkit. Teradek's new Bond cellular solution was at the heart of the action for the first time. It was used to televise the event by multiple TV networks across the USA and by a dozen media outlets including the New York Post. Transmitting simultaneously over Verizon, AT&T and Sprint networks, Bond transmitted comprehensive live pre- and post-game supplementary coverage, fixed to a variety of ENG and DSLR camera systems.
Bond attaches to a Teradek Cube and is camera-mounted. It uses multiple 3G or 4G mobile dongles from any mobile phone network supplier to transmit encoded content to a receiving station that recompiles the data into a single video stream. Importantly, at events such as Super Bowl where tens of thousands of spectators are hitting the mobile networks hard with their smartphones, Bond can work concurrently with diverse mobile carriers. This versatility means that even from within a stadium, Bond works flawlessly and maintains high enough bit rates for good quality, uninterrupted HD viewing.
“Without Bond, we simply would not have been able to go live at the game,” said Rome Neal, Senior Video Producer for the New York Post. “Live sports events present many unique broadcast challenges, and the Bond’s compact size and ease of use make it an ideal solution to get our live content directly to our viewers online, even for an event of this magnitude.”
As mobile solutions have been proven to perform to this level in the cauldron of the Super Bowl, broadcasters are now preparing to use such backhauling technology at even larger events such as the London Olympics or the Diamond Jubilee. With low upfront costs and relatively modest data fees, bonded solutions are affordable alternatives to satellite technology and are already a generation ahead of the early backpack cellular systems that hit the market only two years ago.
A New Ball Game
Cellular solutions are used either as a replacement for traditional systems or as a means of cost-effectively extending their range. For example, they can simply transmit from camera to a broadcast centre for live TV transmission using MPEG-TS. Alternatively, they work in tandem with satellite vehicles for on-site production, prior to transmission to the main hub.
The RTMP protocol enables Bond to stream live to the internet from behind a firewall while adaptive internet streaming technology (AIST) constantly adjusts the bitrate of a media stream to suit the bandwidth available. This buffers data on the fly based on varying network conditions ensuring quality of service for online viewers.
The advantages of these technologies are not simply cost-saving. The Super Bowl at the Lucas Oil Stadium saw news crews roaming throughout the arena, inside and out. Microwave link simply was not viable for hard-to-reach areas; Bond's compact size allowed production teams move all around the stadium with ease. For one news company whose sat truck wasn't working correctly, Bond was used for the entirety of the coverage they provided. For them, working over cellular networks gave them a level of flexibility that established forms of transmission lacks.
Furthermore, cellular solutions allowed broadcasters to bypass issues that plague live production. At Super Bowl, the on-pitch entertainment alone required the planning and management of 110 RF frequencies, all competing for space with coach intercoms, the NBC stage, NFL Films, NFL Network, Westwood One Radio among many others. Sending data over separate networks bypasses this issue entirely and avoids the risk of interference with wireless mics, in-ear monitors and intercom systems that underpin the whole day.
The Pace of Change
The reliance on telecoms infrastructures that were developed for anything other than the transmission of compressed HD signals will terrify many a broadcaster. While the technology has has been used for hours on end by regional TV operators, ultimate quality still resides with satellite news operations and regular broadcast infrastructures. However, flexibility, versatility and speed (not to mention the considerable cost-savings) side clearly with 3G and 4G bonded engineering and in only a few months since launch, it has already established as a valuable asset in a broadcaster's inventory.
Sports Streaming
Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis was a first for streaming: the whole match was simulcast live by NBC. So is this the start of free live sports broadcasting? Don't bet on it. Super Bowl was selected to be streamed live for the simple reason that NBC knew that no-one would choose online viewing over a true HDTV experience: its $3.5 million TV revenue per advert was never at risk. NBC's theory is that most will view the streamed match as a second screen, for a different angle, not as the main focus of attention. Is this the way we will watch the FA Cup final in future years - BBC HD on the big screen with iPlayer giving a new perspective alongside...? Watch this space.
4G Approaches our Shores
Video over fixed and wireless ethernet networks is an established part of the modern world. However, the UK has lagged behind the USA when it comes to mobile phone networks. Now, 4G networks are rolling out over Europe to bring true mobile multimedia connectivity to smartphones. With extensive trials underway in South West England, the national upgrade will begin this year, first in Southwark from May, before national rollout commences around Christmas time. Promising a theoretical maximum of 120Mbs, cellular video delivery will truly come alive. For TV news organisations and video journalists, 4G could mean that cellular systems, such as Bond, become mainstream delivery tools.

Tags: iss063 | super bowl | teradek | cube | holdan | Kieron Seth#
Contributing Author Kieron Seth#

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Holdan and Teradek at BVE North 2011

    Holdan and Teradek at BVE North 2011

  • Teradek at BVE 2012

    Teradek at BVE 2012

  • Behind the scenes of the Teradek booth on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Behind the scenes of the Teradek booth on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Dejero on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Dejero on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Pixel Power on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Pixel Power on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Canon on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Canon on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Harmonics Peter Alexander on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Harmonics Peter Alexander on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Haivision on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Haivision on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Front Porch Digital on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Front Porch Digital on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Atomos with the Samurai Blade on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Atomos with the Samurai Blade on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • ChyronHego on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    ChyronHego on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Cinegy on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Cinegy on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Trilogy on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Trilogy on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Projects Department on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC

    Projects Department on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC

  • Blackmagic Design on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Blackmagic Design on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Atomos talking 4K on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Atomos talking 4K on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Calrec on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Calrec on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Glensound on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Glensound on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Zylight on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Zylight on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Nexidias Drew Lanham on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Nexidias Drew Lanham on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Carl Zeiss on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Carl Zeiss on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Miranda on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Miranda on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Orad Hi Tec Systems on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Orad Hi Tec Systems on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Photon Beard on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Photon Beard on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Polecam talk accessories on BroadcastShow LIVE 2013

    Polecam talk accessories on BroadcastShow LIVE 2013

  • TMD talk workflow on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    TMD talk workflow on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Metus on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Metus on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Guntermann and Drunck on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Guntermann and Drunck on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Brainstorm on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Brainstorm on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Pilat Media on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Pilat Media on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Sonnet Technologies on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Sonnet Technologies on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • EditShare on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    EditShare on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Nucomm on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Nucomm on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Wohler Technologies on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Wohler Technologies on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Nexidia QC on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Nexidia QC on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • SIS LIVEs Martyn Hopkins on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    SIS LIVEs Martyn Hopkins on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Atomos with the Ronin on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Atomos with the Ronin on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Snell on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Snell on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Harmonics Tom Lattie on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Harmonics Tom Lattie on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Primestream on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Primestream on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • NewTek on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    NewTek on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Wyplay on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Wyplay on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Volicon on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Volicon on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Forbidden Technologies on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Forbidden Technologies on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Atomos with the Datacolor Spyder on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Atomos with the Datacolor Spyder on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Sound Devices on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Sound Devices on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Audio Network on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Audio Network on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Cooke Optics on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Cooke Optics on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • SIS LIVEs Mark Shadbolt on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    SIS LIVEs Mark Shadbolt on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Softron Media Services on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Softron Media Services on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Cobham on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Cobham on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Riedel Communications on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Riedel Communications on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • TMD talk asset management solutions on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    TMD talk asset management solutions on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • SMPTE on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    SMPTE on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Wowza Media Systems on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Wowza Media Systems on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Stream UK on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Stream UK on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Cambridge Imaging Systems on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Cambridge Imaging Systems on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Digital Vision on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Digital Vision on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Polecam talk high speed on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Polecam talk high speed on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Metus at IBC 2014

    Metus at IBC 2014

  • Guided tour of the Holdan Stand at BVE 2016

    Guided tour of the Holdan Stand at BVE 2016

  • Holdan on BroadcastShow Tour May 2013

    Holdan on BroadcastShow Tour May 2013

  • Datavideo on the Holdan stand at BVE 2013

    Datavideo on the Holdan stand at BVE 2013

  • Holdan and DaVinci at BVE North 2011

    Holdan and DaVinci at BVE North 2011

  • Holdan and Panasonic at BVE North 2011

    Holdan and Panasonic at BVE North 2011

  • Panasonic Lumix GH5 at BVE 2017

    Panasonic Lumix GH5 at BVE 2017

  • Filming kit review from NAB

    Filming kit review from NAB

  • Belfast TOUR

    Belfast TOUR

  • Official TOUR Video 2013

    Official TOUR Video 2013

  • TV ONE at BVE 2012

    TV ONE at BVE 2012

  • Panasonic at BVE 2012

    Panasonic at BVE 2012

  • Datavideo at IBC2011

    Datavideo at IBC2011


Related Shows
  • Holdan at BVE 2016

    Holdan at BVE 2016


Articles
Shedding Light on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k BMCPP4K
Garth de Bruno Austin “What is it about light that has us craving it?” Is the question asked in the opening seconds of Garth de Bruno Austin’s latest short, The Colour of Light. Exploring this natural, human need as well as our innate desire to control it, Garth’s film showcases everyday people going about their lives in differing degrees of luminance, whether that be an artificial streetlight or a natural morning sunrise.
Tags: iss134 | blackmagic | cinema camera | 4k | cpp4k | Garth de Bruno Austin
Contributing Author Garth de Bruno Austin Click to read or download PDF
Protecting the continuity of transmission
Lorna Garrett Your viewers love you. You consistently bring them their preferred channels 24/7. They’ve come to rely on you for their viewing pleasure. They never miss cheering on their beloved sports teams. They’re the envy of their friends as they watch live concerts of their favourite bands. They gather the family around and catch up on their must-see shows. They don’t have a bad word to say about you.
Tags: iss134 | garland | gpl | streaming | artel | disaster recovery | Lorna Garrett
Contributing Author Lorna Garrett Click to read or download PDF
An Epiphany Moment
Peter Savage 2 I had been negotiating the sale of my company and had reached the really hard end of the bargain. We were close to agreeing the final sum after a lot of too-much-give-and-not-enough-take negotiation. The solicitors were calling me, keen for a deal. It had come down to one sticking point and, in my hard ball “I am the Wolf of Wall Street” guise, I wasn’t going to let it go. It would make a value difference of 1.5% on the total outcome. Not much, you might think, but I had already nearly fallen out with the solicitors over their fees and I was giving my advisors an extremely hard time because the corporate adviser couldn’t see how I had already given more than an inch and the buyers were taking more than a mile. I was not going to let them win.
Tags: iss134 | azule | finance | Peter Savage 2
Contributing Author Peter Savage 2 Click to read or download PDF
AI in Media and Entertainment
David Candler Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a term appearing everywhere these days. What is happening in media and entertainment (M&E) that makes the industry ripe for AI? In other words, why does the M&E industry need AI?
Tags: iss134 | AI | wazee | David Candler
Contributing Author David Candler Click to read or download PDF
Keeping it remotely real
Reuben Such Everyone wants to do more with less. Always have, although it could be argued that doing more with more is something to aspire to, not many have that luxury. So let’s stick with the prevailing winds of doing more with less, and not just doing more, but doing it remotely, particularly in terms of production. Remote production, in particular, is getting a lot of attention in the field these days, but not so much in terms of the remote operation of fixed studios.
Tags: iss134 | remote control | IPE | IDS | Reuben Such
Contributing Author Reuben Such Click to read or download PDF