Tata Communications

Ahead Of The Curve – Innovation In The Digital Transformation Of Sports Broadcasting

April 1, 2020

As traditional broadcasters evolve to utilise digital and newcomers like Netflix and Amazon vie for more TV rights to sporting events, keeping pace with the changing landscape in screening and live streaming sports is vital.

Tata Communications, the leading provider of global digital infrastructure services, helps sports broadcasters, federations and rights holders to stay ahead of the competition by embracing digital transformation and adopting cutting-edge technology. Nearly 30 percent of the world’s internet routes travel over its network.

It’s a leader in the increasingly digital, cloud-powered and IP-enabled media and entertainment industry and delivers over 5,000 live sporting events globally including top tier clients across premium sports.

Evolution of consumption patterns and explosion of new content mean that sports broadcasters, content owners and rights holders need a technology partner with a global reach and versatile networks that are not only reliable but also interoperable and future-ready.

As regulatory and commercial factors compel broadcasters to search for alternative distribution channels, the company’s fully managed satellite replacement solution delivers high quality compressed video over a hybrid network.

Tata Communications provides additional benefits to meet the sophisticated demands of sports broadcasters. Its storage and compute services offer a flexible, modular private storage environment for media, so that content owners and broadcasters can create their own business models without disparate cloud tie-ups and capital expenditure.

As OTT goes mainstream in sport, the company is equipped to fulfil requirements with a comprehensive, cloud-based platform that empowers content owners and video streaming companies to perform key backend tasks such as transcoding, analytics, live streaming and publishing and reviews. It also offers a video delivery network for live synchronous OTT output.

The influx of newcomers investing in sports rights means there is growing pressure on traditional broadcasters and content owners to keep pace.”

Workflow automation allows for slick operations. There’s one web interface that allows content owners to manage their media from ingest to delivery, in an easy-to-use, pay-as-you-go cloud-based service.

Driving efficiencies via remote production

In producing and broadcasting a major sporting event, a major shift in thinking and operations has led to huge changes that are driving down costs.

Media contribution, preparation and distribution are highly capital-intensive for producers of live TV and video content, and their workflows are complex. Migration to IP-based workflows provides new opportunities to content owners to simplify them and achieve substantial cost efficiencies.

Remote production is one option available to live content producers. Enhancing the reach of their content, exploring new monetisation routes and lowering the cost of production can be achieved this way. As content regionalisation and innovation in media formats take a strong hold among business priorities, remote production is expected to become a default choice for live content producers.

The company’s remote production solution ensures a collaborative approach by tying together multiple production hubs with the live event venue and utilising personnel and equipment across more than one facility via an ultra-low latency managed network. This unlocks major opportunities for sports to scale their operations worldwide, and operate multiple events in parallel without needing a full production set-up on-site.

Dhaval Ponda, Global Head of Media and Entertainment Services at Tata Communications, says “The influx of newcomers investing in sports rights means there is growing pressure on traditional broadcasters and content owners to keep pace. To remain competitive, many are looking to expand their global reach by entering new markets and monetising digital platforms in new ways.

“Simultaneously, many broadcasters are taking a hard look at how they operate to boost their profitability by reducing overheads, logistical and engineering expenses. This is where remote production can make a huge difference, becoming an enabler of business transformation for broadcasters.”

Tata Communications is well-positioned to assist. It owns and operates the world’s largest fibre network optimised for media, delivering broadcast-quality video across 300 media hotspots in 125 global cities. This network offers low-latency, reliable connectivity and can be rapidly deployed and dynamically configured on a virtualised platform.

Its global operations centres maintain the network in peak condition through a remote monitoring crew; a dedicated on-site team is fully adaptable to an event’s schedule and turnaround requirements.

“Game-changing” 100G media backbone

Tata Communications has launched a 100G media backbone to meet the industry’s growing bandwidth demands. It underpins the tech giant’s global end-to-end managed Video Connect network.

“eSports enterprises and broadcasters can provide gamers and viewers with exceptional, ultra-immersive 4k viewing experiences without worrying about bandwidth issues”

The new backbone enables broadcasters, sports organisations, OTT companies and eSports businesses to offer their global audiences more immersive viewing and gaming experiences and transform how they operate through full remote production.

Ponda describes it as a “game-changing” development for the sports industry. “Viewers, sports fans and gamers expect immersive, high-quality content – delivered live from the other side of the world or on demand – on different platforms. This 100G backbone and our managed video services will help our customers innovate with agility and become more competitive,” he says.

At major sports events, the new infrastructure will have the capacity to support up to 50 raw video feeds and the delivery of unilateral, localised feeds by different rights holders for their regions.

A 100G media backbone can simplify a content provider’s journey towards deploying UHD 4K videos in real time, which requires 12Gb/s bandwidth when uncompressed – four times more than what is needed for a HD video transmission.

“eSports enterprises and broadcasters can provide gamers and viewers with exceptional, ultra-immersive 4k viewing experiences without worrying about bandwidth issues,” says Ponda.

eSports has become a global industry which is constantly requiring greater tech systems

The opportunities and benefits created by 100 G are not only limited to 4k video transmission. Progressive media and communications companies, for instance, have started testing live 360° video transmission in 8k UHD – the highest resolution available in digital TV.

Ponda adds: “This can usher in endless possibilities when it comes to live video broadcasting and immersive viewing. Such high-performance media infrastructure can, for example, allow sports lovers to use a VR headset and experience a golf tour right from the player’s point-of-view or watch a motorsport race from the circuit.”

A 100G media network can also help content providers streamline the technical aspects of video production. For instance, every event in eSports involves multiple cameras, cutaways, commentary, real-time editing and real-time reactions. A high capacity transmission network can ensure that the data is transmitted in order, on time, and without any redundancies to enable remote production of multiple events in tandem.

Media cloud ecosystem benefits

Further benefits to the sports industry come in the form of the company’s media cloud infrastructure services. It enables content owners, broadcasters and OTT players to create a private, modular media cloud to manage their video on-demand playout and distribution.

Migration to cloud-based workflows enables sports organisations and broadcasters to launch resources faster, achieve better collaboration across remote workforces, deploy in multiple regions at the same time, and, perhaps most importantly, trade capital expenses with a pay-as-you-go model.

Tata Communications’ media cloud infrastructure is seamlessly connected to its media-ready global network and provides the vital link between content acquisition and distribution to audiences. It can achieve a range of transform functions including transcode, digital rights management, review and approve processes, metadata tagging and video analytics.

Tata Communications