Broadcast Technology Fosters Fan Engagement
As home consumer technology (TVs, portable devices) continues to get better and video delivery services have solved the challenges of bringing live sports into viewers living rooms, stadiums and other venues have worked hard to provide those in attendance with a visual and aural experience they can’t get at home. This includes exclusive 4K and 8K content displayed on big video scoreboards, at-seat devices for listening and watching this content and stadium-wide graphical displays that captivate attention.
The goal for all involved is to keep fans engaged and in the stands. This technology being deployed – including virtual reality and content that can be accessed Internet-connected devices like smart phones located within a certain radius of the stadium – is lso very important to the marketing of domestic and worldwide brands. With lots of event-friendly technological innovations and 60-plus new major sports stadiums set to open by 2020 around the orld, more brands than ever now have opportunities to build marketing strategies to reach fans through far more innovative ways.
Several traditional broadcast equipment vendors have latched on to this rapidly emerging market as a welcome sales opportunity, eagerly supplying cameras, switchers, graphics and servers that have helped create this highly charged environment. This equipment is used by dedicated production teams located within the stadium that are tasked with creating new types of fan-friendly content for a better in-game experience. Watching these teams work during a game echoes the frenetic environment of a live TV broadcast facility. In many cases, it is the exact same workflow – although the final output goes to a large screen in the venue instead of to the general public.
For example, several of Ross Video’s products now power the video production and graphics at the state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS) in Atlanta, which opened in 2017 and now is the home of the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United Football Club. It also played host to the 2019 NFL Super Bowl LIII game in February. Costing over a billion dollars to build after three years of construction. The architecturally innovative and massive sports venue features a captivating “Halo Board” display above the field that measures 1,100’ wide by 58’ high, with an astounding 21512 by 1152 pixel resolution.It still stands as the largest video display in North America.
Ross’ XPression Tessera, a real-time motion raphics designer and controller for Sport Venues and Studio Video Walls, handles the synchronized playback from multiple 3D render engines to drive the massive Halo Board. Many of these images can also be seen throughout the stadium on the hundreds of smaller screens inside private suites and public retail sites. Tessera also enables users to link together multiple XPression engines to create a scalable matrix of channels for seamless output of scenes across large or irregularly assembled display panels.
Going deeper, the XPression Tessera Region Manager permits operators to divide scenes into regions and assign those regions to specific nodes. A Ross XPression Tessera Node Manager allocates the XPression engines and channels to be used as render nodes. And a Ross XPression Project Server handles automatic one-click publishing of scene updates and resources to all nodes.
In another example, Grass Valley has teamed up with ChyronHego to offer stadiums a pre-configured, single-point-of-control integration solution for graphics and production switching. It’s specifically designed for complex venue productions and allows a technical director to switch shows with game-inprogress graphics delivered simultaneously to multiple displays. These can include LED ribbon boards, scoreboards, and concourse/concession screens, all in a simple, repeatable manner.
The plug-and-play solution, announced at the recent NAB Show in April, provides single-button control of ChyronHego graphics for stadium and fan engagement within the user interface of GrassValley’s Kayenne, Karrera, and GV Korona video production switchers. This deep integration enables synchronized scene-by-scene or individual layer control with guaranteed repeatability, giving the TD the confidence that graphics will play the momentthey are called for. TDs can now directly execute frame-accurate transitions, trigger graphic-enhanced replays, and clear channels by remotely controlling ChyronHego graphics workstations to deploy rich, multilayer graphics presentations to scoreboards – even on a single output.
And it’s not just professional stadiums. A high school in Texas (part of the Katy Independent School District) has built a new football stadium called “Legacy Stadium” that rivals any college installation; complete with full broadcast sports production capabilities. The stadium’s video signal infrastructure is based on single-mode fiber from each of the camerapositions to a NewTek TriCaster 8000 and 3Play 4800 production system and then onto a Daktronics scoreboard.
While most high school video scoreboards in the U.S. are still analog-driven and often display standard definition imagery, Legacy Stadium’s signal is digital and HD (1080i) throughout, from the cameras to the NewTek TriCaster 8000 and 3Play 4800 production systems, to the Daktronics Show Control System rack and on to the massive video board that dominates the stadium. The TriCaster has access not only to the cameras that feed directly to it, but also to any that connect to the 3Play 4800. The 3Play system provides all inputs nd outputs as NDI signals over the local network, saving the need for dedicated video cabling between the two systems.
Of course, getting all of these systems to wok together involves a lot of coordination and IP-based system testing to get right. That’s where teams of system integrators and stadium design experts come together to provide the best experience possible. And this experience changes with each different type of live event happening in the stadium, so flexibility is also critical to the success of these in-stadium entertainment systems. Stadium management understands that for the rue fan, nothing beats seeing your favorite team live and in person. However the cost and effort for fans having to travel to the venue can be challenging.That’s why sports and entertainment leaders around the globe are working extra hard to foster fan engagement and create experiences that are unique to the stadium. This strategy is also good for business, as fans spent an estimated $50 billion last year on their favorite teams and leagues, developing bonds with sponsoring brands in the process. When done right, this engagement is a goo d combination of a fan’s experience watching games on TV or through streaming media, and their experience interacting with teams year- round.
How it’s done is different but similar for every enue but the resulting fan excitement is typically the same.