By Shaun Lim
Remote live production is positively the “IN” thing. A recent casualty of on-site live production was Star Sports, who refused to renew their decades-long live-broadcasting contract with the Badminton World Federation because of their inability to shoulder the huge costs involved with sending production teams and equipment to the venue of the sporting event.
Several smaller broadcast houses collaborated to host the live broadcast of three tournaments on the European circuit, but BWF had to make do with a fraction of the earlier contracted amount with Star Sports. For TV viewers who lacked access to the broadcasts of these operators, YouTube ended up streaming the tournaments live with a single static camera – not ideal coverage, but better than having no coverage at all!
There are now companies that are devoting themselves to improving the quality of live production while keeping the costs down. In 2021, under a banner of “We Love Live”, Grass Valley launched a new corporate identity and marketing campaign that empowers customers to deliver the live moments to millions around the world, while transitioning to the future of media and entertainment through IP, software and cloud-based technologies.
Since then, Grass Valley has gone on to support the delivery of many live sports events globally, including the first deployment of the GV Agile Media Processing Platform (AMPP) for cloud-native live sports in the Asia-Pacific region.
Looking for a cloud-first solution that will provide the flexibility to deliver live Ultra HD (UHD) football content to subscribers of Stan Sport, an Australian streaming service, Telstra Broadcasting Services (TBS) chose the GV AMPP to provision each Stan channel for the duration of the game.
Carl Petch, CTO of TBS, explained, “We recognised the potential of AMPP when it launched in 2020, and we’ve seen several other successful global deployments of the technology.
“We’re thrilled to be named a managed service provider for AMPP, and to have our first live customer streaming in UHD.
“We are excited about our partnership with Grass Valley and what we can achieve together using the public cloud environment, our networks and their software.”
No physical infrastructure required
At peak times, Stan can manage 32 simultaneous live channels to bring every Europa League game to Australian fans — and for the first time, key Champions League matches, live in UHD.
No physical infrastructure is required. TBS provisions each channel for the duration of the game, while Stan Sport operators manage each channel from a customised interface using a standard web browser from anywhere with a public internet connection.
As TBS looks to enable more media companies like Stan to innovate and deliver new customer experiences, the use of GV AMPP-based applications will enable them to add to their existing connectivity services, Tony Moran, Regional Sales Director, Oceania, for Grass Valley, told APB+.
He added, “The Stan Sport use case is an excellent example of this, enabling TBS to offer a production and playout layer on top of their connectivity service for European sports feeds.”
Moran also sees a growing trend among streaming service providers to move into live events-based streaming, but cautioned that there are challenges and issues that must be addressed if they are to be successful.
He explained, “They may approach this without the legacy of running a TV station for decades and have very different operational cultures, needs and business models.
“A key strength of Grass Valley and TBS’ partnership is the ability to offer highly tailored solutions both operationally and economically. TBC can provide a service bundle, covering skills and resources such as a broadcast master control room (MCR), as well as broadcast application expertise.”
Looking ahead, Grass Valley will continue to support media companies’ transition to the world of remote production through IP, software and cloud-based technologies, while keeping an eye on emerging technologies that can potentially impact the future of remote live production.
5G, for instance, has “great potential” to improve the quality of camera feeds from a venue to the cloud, Moran pointed out. “In addition to bonded cellular solutions, telcos are likely to offer dedicated bandwidth, enabling improved quality of service (QoS). This is likely to improve the economics of remote production in general and drive greater adoption of media production using cloud-based platforms.”
5G driving the future of remote production
One company that has moved to expand its technology and solution portfolio with 5G transmission, mobile video contribution, and network bonding technology, is Haivision, who recently announced its decision to acquire Aviwest.
Founded in 2008, Aviwest is a provider of mobile IP-based video contribution systems and a pioneer in transmission of live video over cellular networks. The company has a history of innovation, including many “world firsts” — portable cellular video transmission, live video transmission over a 4G network implementing QoS, and live 4K video transmission over a 5G network.
The acquisition of Aviwest, said Haivision, will bring mobile networking (5G/4G cellular) and patented network bonding capabilities to Haivision’s solution portfolio, and allow the company to be an “unmatched provider” of low latency broadcast technology solutions for any live event.
Ronan Poullaouec, CTO and Co-founder of Aviwest, added, “Together with Haivision, our solutions will bring customers maximum live video flexibility with ultra-low latency, highly reliable network connectivity, and pristine video quality.
“With sub-200ms glass-to-glass latency over 5G networks, our solutions are revolutionising remote production workflows by giving broadcasters more options for contributing real-time content for premium live events and sports coverage.”
Haivision and Aviwest’s focus on 5G is also opportune, with over 68% of broadcasters identifying 5G as the technology that will most impact them within the next five years.
This was revealed by Haivision’s recently released Broadcast IP Transformation Report, which highlights how 5G is poised to make high bandwidth, low latency internet access ubiquitous, and extend IP-based workflows for any type of live event.
Other key findings from Haivision’s Broadcast IP Transformation Report, include how the internet is fueling live production, with 79% of broadcasters now relying on the internet for contributing video to live production workflow.
The internet and low latency video streaming are also instrumental in decentralising remote production, enabling staff and talent to work from anywhere.
Up to 65% of broadcasters have also begun migrating at least part of their broadcast infrastructure to IP, despite challenges such as budget limitations and the complexities of transitioning workflows; 60% of broadcasters also believe that the future will involve employing new hybrid workflows with a growing mix of on-premise, IP and cloud technologies for both on-site and remote staff.
Marcus Schioler, Vice-President of Marketing, Haivision, concluded, “The last two years have brought rapid and lasting changes to the way TV broadcasters contribute, produce, distribute and deliver content. This year’s survey results give us a clearer understanding of how broadcasters are adapting to their new hybrid reality, whether it’s how and where they work or what technologies they use.
“The key to their success will rely on how flexible and agile they can make their broadcast workflows.”
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