NEP BroadcastSolutions, a division of NEP Group, and TataCommunications,a leading digital infrastructure provider, have successfullycompleted the remote production and broadcast of VIVO IndianPremier League(IPL) for Star Sports, the number one sportsbroadcaster in India and subsidiary of 21stCentury Fox.The 2018 VIVO IPL season was Star Sports’ first since it acquired the global mediarights for USD $2.55 billion/INR 16,347.5 crore for the next five years. Thismarks the first time that a sports series of IPL’s scale has been producedremotely in India by harnessing superfast connectivity.
The tournament consisted of 60 matchestaking place over 50 days in nine cities across India: Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur,Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Indore, Mohali and Pune. Each fixture featured customisedfeeds in local languages including commentary in six languages - which went upto eight languages for the final. To tackle the challenges stemming from theback-to-back schedule of events, the long distances between the matchlocations, and the need to localise content for different regions, Star Sports workedwith Tata Communications and NEP to centralise many of its core operations and managethem remotely from its production hub in Mumbai.
This first-of-its-kind remote production initiativebrought together NEP’s expertise in the centralised broadcast of live events andTata Communications’ video distribution capabilities. Star Sports productioncrew along with NEP’s engineering team, including cameramen, sound assistants, talent producers and the productionmanagement team, were on-site at the venues, while the production personnel,including the director, vision mixer, audio engineers, EVS operators, producersand graphics team members, operated out of the central Star Sports facility at UrmiEastate in Mumbai. With NEP’s new flight pack Broadcast Lite — which allows aquick set-up in minimum space without any compromise in functionality andquality — the team was able to distribute eight unilateral camera feeds and 15HD host feeds, along with associated AES audio feeds, back to Star Sports’Mumbai hub.
The two NEP teams — often with more than a thousand kilometres betweenthem — were able to collaborate seamlessly and reliably with the StarSports team enabled by Tata Communications’ ultra-low-latency Video Connect network. With fewer than fourframes per second latency and hitless switching capability, this digitalinfrastructure enabled NEP’s remote production by ensuring the smooth transmissionof a combination of signals and camera feeds at each IPL fixture to StarSports’ Mumbai hub. Remote production can be more cost-effective than conventionalonsite production. It allowed Star Sports to efficiently produce customisedfeeds in multiple languages for different regions, enhancing the viewingexperience for the millions of cricket fans following VIVO IPL 2018 acrossIndia.
“VIVO IPL is one of the most sought after sporting spectacles in theworld, which meansthat from a broadcasting perspective, there is simply no room for error,” said Brian Morris, Vice President and General Manager, Media &Entertainment Services, Tata Communications. “With 60 matches taking placeback-to-back across the country, you need a finely tuned, very reliableproduction operation. In a high-pressure environment like this, remoteproduction, enabled by an ultra-low-latency video network, can have a trulytransformational impact.
“The teamwork displayed by the team of StarSports, NEP and Tata Communications demonstrates how leading organisationsworking closely together can drive innovation in the broadcasting industry,”said Saeed Izadi, President of NEPBroadcast Solutions. “We’ve successfully introduced cutting-edge remoteproduction technology in other parts of the world and were proud to supportVIVO IPL 2018 with our capabilities. Together, we have redefined the productionof sports events in India.”