The Content Explosion in Sports Production

Before, during and after the game

When we think about sports production we generally think about the ‘live’ action. However, today’s sports broadcasts leverage an enormous volume of file-based content before, during and after the game. The amount of file-based content used is growing as fast as the number of places that content needs to go. 

The Content Explosion

  • More cameras (120+ cameras at some events!)
  • Higher video resolutions
  • More viewing platforms and global rights holders
  • More screens at the stadiums
  • Content stored in multiple places, on-prem, in and across the cloud
  • Distributed production teams across multiple locations 
  • Social media, player brand building, legalized betting
  • Direct-to-consumer offerings
  • Historical archive requests

Before the Game

Prior to the live action, an enormous volume of content must be delivered to the production site. At Super Bowl XVI at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, a staggering 1.2 petabytes of pre recorded footage was ingested on site before the game. This is a time-sensitive operation as these large and mission-critical datasets must be on site before the broadcast begins. Pregame file packages include:

  • Pre recorded interviews
  • Team or player featurettes
  • Highlights from previous matches 
  • Graphics packages 
  • Pre-produced game-specific package roll-ins

During the Game

With the growing amount of content being created during the game and with distributed teams working to meet deadlines that are measured in seconds, there is a tremendous amount of file movement while the game is in progress. During the game, file packages include: 

  • Highlight clips remotely created and delivered back to the production site for playout 
  • Processed video clips needed for the Jumbotron, and other in-venue displays
  • Selected clips for remote referee adjudication based across the country
  • Contractual media obligations for news organizations, social media platforms and rights holders worldwide

After the Game

Immediately following the game, shutting the site down and getting all the footage off site and into archive quickly saves time and money. The faster the production can strike down, the more it can save on rentals and staff hours. After shutdown, all that content continues to drive value in new ways and there are more and more content requests in the days and weeks and even years that follow. After the game, file packages include: 

  • Any footage needing to be archived into on-prem storage, to the cloud, or both
  • League distribution obligations to the teams
  • Post-game interviews, highlights and content requests
  • Players and influencers looking for specific clips to build their personal brands and engage their audiences

The Need For Speed

When it comes to modern live sports production, speed is foundational as a massive amount of data needs to be moved to and from a wide variety of locations before, during and after the game. These workflows involve people who need to find and access the content from anywhere in the world. They involve automated workflows to distribute content to multiple places simultaneously, and increasingly leverage both on-prem and cloud infrastructure. Lastly, they always involve a wide variety of systems that need to interoperate.

The Signiant Platform

With advanced network optimization technology at its core, the Signiant Platform is perfectly suited to enhance modern live sports productions. Learn why brands such as NBC, NFL, NHL, Discovery, Sky, BBC, ESPN, NEP and many others rely on Signiant to support the content explosion.

Sports Teams Must Play the Media Game

Do you have all your bases covered?

The huge content explosion in sports goes beyond traditional broadcasting and now welcomes leagues, teams, individual players and online influencers into the content ecosystem. The stadiums, especially for leagues like the NFL, have become interactive multimedia experiences with hundreds of screens; players are focusing on their individual brands to increase monetization opportunities beyond their playing careers; and online influencers providing more insight into the game continue to grow and drive further demand for content. 

The increasing volume of content and requests add layers to an already complex set of media operations at the team level that is simply unprecedented. 

The Pain Points

Content is everywhere, stored in multiple locations and disparate systems. When content requests come in, those complex storage environments make it hard to find assets quickly.

Delivery must be fast. Teams must simultaneously fulfill requests from news outlets, social media influencers, players and more. Everyone receiving content has their own specification in terms of standards they want content delivered in, creating multiple parallel workstreams. 

This is being done today, for the most part, with manual processes not designed for this volume or complexity. As a result, processes are inefficient, there is much duplication of effort, costs go up, and worst of all — providers experience failure to fulfill!

Excerpt — 2022 SVG Content Management Forum

Designing the Winning Play

Professional teams who create and distribute content need enterprise-class technology, but they don’t need a league-size infrastructure. What they do need are fit-for-purpose tools that make it easy to find assets, perform quick edits and quickly get content where it needs to go in the right format across a wide variety of delivery specs.

With years of experience serving the world’s most powerful sports leagues and franchises, Signiant, now with Reach Engine, is in the unique position to create significant operational efficiencies and cost savings for sports teams. 

NBC Sports Goes for the Gold with Remote Production

Streamlining remote production for NBC Sports

NBC Sports televised both the Games of the XXXII Olympiad from Tokyo, Japan, and the XXIV Olympic Winter Games, from Beijing, China. Vital to these productions watched by millions was the Signiant Platform, which enabled NBC to leverage their team and technology thousands of miles away in Stamford, Connecticut.   

Using the Signiant Platform’s intelligent file transfer capabilities, NBC moved terabytes of HDR and 4K footage immediately upon capture from either location to Stamford, nearly 7,000 miles away. Signiant’s patented network optimization technology enabled seamless transfers of footage over standard IP networks, eliminating latency and packet loss, so that editors in Stamford could begin creating highlights almost immediately as the action was happening. Signiant’s software also allowed for content, including advanced graphics work and pre-recorded footage, to be transferred quickly, easily and securely back to the broadcast centers in the host country. The Signiant Platform allowed NBC Sports to leverage their talent and equipment back home in Stamford to provide enhanced viewing experiences much more efficiently.

“Now handling even more productions at remote locations, our efforts depend on real time collaboration, file synchronization, and raw speed. Signiant delivers each of those.”

~ Darryl Jefferson, VP of Post Production & Digital Workflow, NBC Sports

The Signiant Platform Tackles Growing Files

The Signiant Platform supports the accelerated movement of growing files over any IP network, a mission critical capability for live events where speed is everything. It enables remote editors to create highlight clips from live cameras immediately after the action takes place. Moving content into storage as it is being created also dramatically reduces shutdown time and cost after an event.

SoFi Stadium — 100+ Cameras, 2500+ Screens, 100 MM+ Fans

In March 2022, Signiant and Skarpi Heddinsson, CTO of SoFi Stadium and the LA Rams discussed the challenges and requirements they experienced to produce a successful Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium.

“That’s [why] we partnered with Signiant; specifically to make contributing content easier. At the end of the day, the productivity gains alone will pay for it.”

~Skarpi Heddinsson, CTO, LA Rams

Excerpt — 2022 SVG Venue Summit

NEP and Signiant Team Up to Support Any-Size Production

With operations in 25 countries, NEP enables content creators and rights holders to tell more stories in breakthrough ways. To accelerate file-based operations across its fleet of OB trucks, studios and flypacks, NEP leverages the Signiant Platform. Moving media assets and associated metadata to and from venues with ease and speed, the Signiant Platform allows NEP to offer fast and secure content exchange to any-size production working over any IP network without requiring additional hardware.

File-based workflows have long played critical roles in live event production to enhance viewer experiences and expand monetization opportunities via the fast turnaround of highlights. The complexity of sports workflows and the data payloads involved has increased dramatically in recent times. More cameras create more content, higher resolutions result in larger files, and a growing number of distribution partners are now in the mix. Optimizing file flow to and from the venue before, during, and after a live event requires powerful fit-for-purpose tools. OB trucks must be loaded with graphics and pre-recorded segments before the game starts. After the game, there’s a rush to make sure that all valuable recorded content is safely sent home. 

A long room full of monitors, chairs and various sound and editing equipment.
Inside OB Truck, Courtesy of NEP Group

File flow during the event, however, is where NEP clients and production partners see the most value. The Signiant Platform makes it easy to get content to and from the trucks quickly during the event and ingested into the desired storage or cloud-based platform. Once there, content can be distributed to global partners quickly, made available to remote editors and moved to the customer’s own archive systems for future use. The Signiant Platform is the smart way to simplify file delivery workflows and make more content rapidly available to production stakeholders, wherever they may be.

Send. Share. Automate. Any File Transfer Use Case … Solved

Producing modern day sports requires massive amounts of file generation and movement. Large and fast-growing files need to be moved, copied, edited, moved again, and stored — over and over to many destinations and in no particular order. The Signiant Platform works in tandem with the live broadcast assisting producers with their critical file transfer needs before, during and after the game.

Search, Preview and Send Anywhere — Fast

Media Engine is a modern media management service built in to the Signiant Platform. Without having to move or ingest assets, your team can conduct Google-style searches across all your Signiant-connected storage.

Metadata Everywhere and the Signiant Platform

What does Signiant have to do with metadata?

Actually, a lot. You probably think of Signiant as moving the content itself, but in order to do so, we need to generate, extract, manage, and take action based on metadata. In fact, our role in the modern media technology stack is increasingly weighted in this direction. In a world of disparate, distributed storage, the Signiant Platform serves as a storage abstraction layer, providing a framework of information about the media assets in addition to a fast, seamless means of accessing them. This unified platform enables teams, leagues, broadcasters, rights holders and anyone else who needs to interact with media content in various ways without actually transferring the heavy asset itself —  while always keeping that fast file movement option available at their fingertips.

Here are ten ways that the Signiant Platform interacts with metadata:

  1. Generate and manage mission-critical metadata parameters such as chain of custody
  2. Extract embedded metadata for pre-transfer asset compliance
  3. Interact with metadata-intensive new standards like IMF
  4. Enable descriptive metadata input by end users
  5. Utilize network and asset-related metadata for dynamic transport optimization
  6. Enable intercompany content exchange
  7. Move large-scale metadata files
  8. Use industry-wide anonymized data to inform SaaS platform evolution
  9. Support next-generation metadata-directed workflows
  10. Provide a federated view of information about media assets that are stored in a distributed, diverse storage environment

In each case, the metadata interactions ⎯ combined with Signiant core transport optimization ⎯ help make our customers’ media supply chains more efficient, cost-effective, and scalable.

Building Sports Workflows with the Right-size Blocks

Build vs. buy has always been a continuum rather than a single binary decision. Every media enterprise buys technology at some level and builds systems by hooking the various pieces together. In the old days, the build process involved connecting hardware products with coax and BNC connectors. In the cloud era, the analogous process is connecting various web services with APIs and lightweight business logic. Because there are endless possibilities within the giant sandbox of web services, careful management of the build vs. buy dimension is essential for media companies.

With that, it’s not a question of build vs. buy but rather which size blocks to build with. Signiant believes that the sweet spot is somewhere near the middle of the continuum between microservices and end-to-end systems. Our technology is packed into full-stack products, providing media companies with modules that can be readily deployed as components of larger workflows. With web services and modern APIs, these products can easily be connected together to address specific business requirements and can be readily swapped out as technology evolves. With this approach, the customer is rewarded with much faster time-to-value while maintaining agility and favorable economics.

Real-World Application

Let’s take a look at a real production example where Signiant put this approach into practice with great success and in a very short amount of time.

A large sports broadcaster was simultaneously covering three live sporting events in three different cities across the U.S. In addition to the live-action camera crews at each location there were also crews/teams shooting interviews and capturing B-roll to intercut into highlight reels. The broadcaster needed to move footage from the remote production location to the main production facility quickly, and a distributed production team needed to be informed in the most efficient way as new clips became available.

As always, things are moving very fast. The director wants it immediately and the editors also have other packages to concentrate on. Rather than waiting and watching for the delivery in multiple messaging services, like email, the broadcaster wanted those notifications to come to their existing Slack service used for internal production communication — a single communication source. 

Coupling Signiant Media Shuttle and Slack — using some simple scripting — let this sports broadcaster do exactly that and stay in the tools they already use. The workflow went from idea to production in a couple of days, using familiar tools, and helped get quick edits on the air, easily. Because both Media Shuttle and Slack are SaaS offerings, minimal effort was required to deploy the two major building blocks themselves.

This is just one very simple example of an actual Signiant use case that illustrates the power of the building block approach. 

Seven Benefits for Sports Teams with the Signiant Platform

Sports entities were among the first to embrace the Signiant Platform when it was first launched with its person-initiated SaaS file acceleration product, Media Shuttle. The platform’s intrinsic ease of deployment and use align perfectly with the time-sensitive, unforgiving nature of sports production. In fact, one of the first significant pilots was in 2012 at a high-profile sports tournament, when the production team from a major broadcaster had a late-breaking requirement for extensive file-based content. Since then, Media Shuttle has since become the de facto standard for person-initiated transfers of large datasets and is used by all sizes of media companies for everything from feature film and episodic television to VFX and AR/VR. 

Here are just some of the Signiant Platform’s key benefits for sports leagues, teams and broadcasters:

  1. Fast, secure, reliable movement of any-size file over any IP network, fixed or mobile, taking advantage of all available bandwidth
  2. Supports any file transfer use case including person-initiated, automated, partner content exchange and cloud I/O
  3. The ability to transfer growing files from encoders to remote locations in near real-time
  4. All structural metadata, including real-time time code and file names from highlight servers, remain intact along with the capability to add descriptive metadata on the fly
  5. Move content into and out of any type of storage and easily integrates with editing and asset management platforms
  6. Web-based administration makes it easy to onboard new users and report in real-time on all transfer activity
  7. Modern APIs are available to easily integrate Signiant Platform products and services with other systems

And a Bonus!

With the addition of Media Engine, users can easily search, preview and take action on media assets across all Signiant-connected storage

Are You Ready for the Content Explosion?

Make sure you have all your bases covered

Sports Media Content Checklist

Get Started with Signiant

Talk to one of our product specialists to get going today.

Thank You!

Your request has been received and a member of our sales team will contact you shortly.

You may also be interested in reading our blog or reviewing our resource center for eBooks, white papers, case studies, and more.