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Sporting territory

by Digital Studio Middle East Staff on Jun 12, 2017

The emerging trends in sports reflect the happenings in the broader broadcast technology space. With rapid strides in technology, an even greater degree of personalised content delivery is upon us. As a result, rights holders and their production companies are investing in equipment that can support the fast-moving elements in the live-sports environment. With social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook streaming sports, the amount of metrics available on end viewers will allow broadcasters to specifically target those viewers.

“We are moving towards an age where we are delivering a more immersive experience to the viewer. We have to find out whether 360 views is the answer or are there other ways to deliver this sense of immersion,” said Mark Bowden, head of project management (Sports) at ChyronHego.

Tim Felstead, head of product marketing at Snell Advanced Media, said: “UHD with wide colour gamut and high dynamic range are certain to have a big impact on live sports broadcasting. All of these will combine to increase the ‘wow’ factor in valuable live sports content.”

Cameron O´Neill, APAC director at Riedel, said that the main upcoming technology for sports broadcasting is  remote production. “There is increased competition for sports broadcasting and as well as an increased demand for the number of sports that are covered,” he observed.

Remote production, which allows an OB provider to service multiple venues from a central studio, is boosting utilisation rates thereby lowering the cost per event.

Emergence of IP

IP for real-time high data rate media transport is fundamentally a change in the core infrastructure and brings flexibility and scalability where SDI-based systems would struggle, said Felstead.

“We don’t see IP having as much of an impact on video quality, but once IP solutions become more widespread and standards-based, they will definitely make life easier for broadcasters,” pointed out Bowden.

The new crop of production codecs (such as TICO and LLVC), aimed at making production video fit on IP infrastructure, are key enablers. “These lighter-compression codecs are rationalising workflows and improving the redundancy provision, making production infrastructure robust,” said Ian Trow, senior director, emerging technology and strategy, Harmonic.

The initial IP codecs offered much better bandwidth and compression than using a satellite. “IP is what helped us get from SD to HD broadcasting, and that was well before anyone was discussing “live IP” on the acquisition side,” said O´Neill. OB providers are leveraging IP to help them work on remote production more than using it to increase quality.

8K Resolution

At the moment, live coverage of sports events in 8K seems confined to Japan and the immense potential is yet untapped. There are a huge number of complexities that 8K needs to overcome in order to manage the demands of real-time and live production.

“There is no real way to transmit it to a viewer in the real time that sports require. No one wants to see their video buffering to see if their team scored or missed. Shooting in 8K, however, leads to a whole range of options such as selectable viewing. VR could be used to allow people to view the content in their own way,” O’Neill remarked.

Bowden concurred: “8K might be valuable as a production tool that feeds a UHD or HD broadcast but certainly not as an end-to-end format. Also, I don’t think there is a critical mass of consumers who fully understand the benefits of super-high-resolution video at the moment.”

Shinya Koshie, national head (professional solution division) at Sony India differed. “We think it’s a matter of time before we see wider adoption of 8K. In fact, it is already starting to be adopted in major sporting events globally. Japanese broadcaster NHK has started broadcasting 8K coverage of certain sporting events and we can expect other broadcasters to follow.”

He said that at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Olympic Broadcasting Services and NHK distributed 8K and down-converted 4K (distributed with one-hour delay) footage. Approximately 100 hours of coverage was produced, including both ceremonies and daily live coverage of track and field events, basketball, and football.”


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