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March 1, 2018

Grand Slam Tennis Goes Remote

By: Vijaya Cherian, BroadcastPro ME

Gearhouse Broadcast and Net Insight facilitated remote production for rights holder, Seven Network

When 35-year-old Roger Federer won the Australian Open, his first in five years, BroadcastPro ME had a ringside view of the remote production that moved an incredible 86 signals around Melbourne on a self-managed dark fibre. Vijaya Cherian travelled to Melbourne to speak to the teams at Gearhouse Broadcast and Net Insight on how they facilitated remote production for rights holder, Seven Network.

Every year, the stakes keep getting higher with live sport. Viewers want better quality and more choices, more perspectives on several different devices, and all the fanfare and social engagement that comes with a live event. While the demands for viewing live sport have gradually increased, shrinking budgets have compelled broadcasters to look at technological alternatives that offer more for less.

This is where remote production is being touted as the single biggest disruption that has changed the dynamics of producing live sport, promising to cut costs while offering a lot more flexibility to make available several different perspectives of a game for multiple platforms.

BroadcastPro Middle East had the exclusive opportunity to witness how remote production changed the game at the Australian Open tennis tournament last month for local broadcaster, Seven Network, the unilateral rights holder for the event, and its main technology partner, Gearhouse Broadcast.

Gearhouse had been Seven’s primary technology partner in covering the Australian Open in previous years. Seven wanted to keep up with technology while maintaining the same quality, if not higher, of broadcast as it had in past years, and Gearhouse catered to this by bringing remote production to the table – a solution that proved to be a win-win for both entities.

Seven Network’s decision to go remote meant it needed only limited crew on-site. The rest were stationed offsite at a remote broadcast centre (RBC) that Gearhouse assembled at another location in Melbourne, where security, catering and other logistics were much simpler.

“The cost of footprint at major events is very expensive,” explains Ian Stokes, Broadcast Engineer at Gearhouse Broadcast Australia and one of the key people that oversaw the RBC deployment in Melbourne.

“Our mandate was to create the infrastructure that would enable the domestic broadcaster to match what they traditionally did on-site, while keeping costs down.”

To put things in perspective, Seven Network, in addition to being the unilateral rights holder for the Australian Open, also holds the broadcast rights in Australia for the Winter Olympics, for which Gearhouse has provided a remote production facility. In previous years, a flyaway kit was stationed at Melbourne Olympic Park – the main site of the action – and all operational staff worked from there.

The RBC, by comparison, opened the doors for experimentation with more feeds and additional streams for OTT platforms. Remote production promised to remove the bottlenecks that are typical in a live production workflow and let the client deliver more live content with better quality for less.

“We were operating between three sites – Melbourne Olympic Park, the site of the action; Seven Network’s Broadcast Centre Melbourne (BCM); and the remote broadcast centre,” explains Stokes.

Full article in BroadcastPro ME, page 40-44

Gearhouse Broadcast & Net Insight press release


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