OPEN MIKE BY GLENN ADAMO

Live Sports Production Benefits From Distributed Approach

Distributed production is gaining traction among broadcasters, particularly around live sporting events, enabling creative new approaches and a redefined viewing experience for fans.

One of the most radical television breakthroughs to emerge from the past 18 months is the advent of the distributed production model for capturing and producing live events— especially sports.

Driven by the need to rely on remote and cloud-based production methods due to pandemic-related safety restrictions, distributed production is quickly becoming common practice for live events of all types and sizes. This production model allows media companies and other rightsholders to explore creative new approaches and expand their live sports coverage, while redefining the way fans experience it.

Technology has played a central role in this evolution, shaping the decisions made by broadcasters, leagues and others producing live sports content. In addition, most are seeking ways to reduce overall production costs while ensuring the quality of their content remains at a high level.

In light of growing demand for more content, competition between traditional networks and streaming platforms, and soaring rights fees, distributed production offers a compelling model in terms of capability, quality, reliability and cost.

The Next Phase Of Remote Production

Remote production is well established within the live sports ecosystem and has already proven its worth across a range of events — but the cost-effectiveness, efficiency and flexibility of this model has been further demonstrated during the pandemic. Remote production became a lifeline for many sports leagues and rightsholders when stadiums and arenas closed their doors to most onsite personnel. Directors, editors, production staff and above-the-line crew were able to work remotely in a control room with a limited number of camera operators and technical staff onsite — reducing travel and physical contact.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

Cloud-based production emerged as a valuable supplement to existing remote production workflows, opening access to more and new programming. It’s available as a flexible, on-demand, as-a-service offering that includes remote IP video contribution, production tools and distribution. Cloud capabilities — from clipping and editing to graphics creation to real-time communications — have taken the remote model to a new level: fully distributed production.

Broadcasters and other rightsholders have quickly embraced the distributed or virtualized model within their production set-ups: bolstering their main broadcast with shoulder programming; creating social media highlights and supporting full end-to-end production.

They can quickly scale up to cover more or new events more easily than ever with minimal up-front investment. Distributed production allows them to cherry pick elements of remote, cloud-based and traditional mobile production approaches — they can plug and play different technologies to suit the type and scale of the event.

A Wealth Of Production Resource

Distributed production boosts time efficiency and cuts costs by minimizing crew travel to venues — or even to remote studios or control rooms. In fact, most of the production team can work from anywhere as long as they have a laptop and an internet connection.

Factor in the fact that there is an excellent pool of best-in-class freelancers available following widespread staffing cuts during the pandemic and the result is leagues and rightsholders can draw on the best talent to produce, direct and present games at a top-tier level regardless of where they are and whether they can travel, all while controlling or even reducing costs.

The idea of taking the best talent from anywhere without having to fly them and tons of equipment to far-flung venues has inspired a wave of live production creativity. The incremental revenue savings allows leagues, broadcasters and other rightsholders to do more with less, plus invest in new dynamic content.

The Future Of Sports Production

This explosion in production technology and creativity has enormous potential for the live sports viewing experience. While each sport has different needs and requirements, media companies and sports organizations have the advantage of picking and choosing the tools that work for them. The reliability and cost-efficiency of remote, cloud and now distributed production have been proven, as the workflows were tried and tested.

The opportunities to leverage distributed production and experiment with new content offerings are immense, with fruitful rewards for those that take the leap.


Glenn Adamo is managing partner, production services at The Switch.


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