beIN Sports and MediaPro US on streamlining workflows for recycled content during lockdown
With the cessation of live sports around the world, dedicated channels and production companies have scrambled to create new programmes from repurposed content.
This has placed renewed value on media asset management (MAM) systems, storage and multi-faceted collaborative workflows that have been implemented to generate revenue and satisfy viewers pent-up demand for sports content.
In 2012, beIN Sports, which produces three channels for the US market – two linear, in English and Spanish, and an over the top (OTT) channel called beIN Sports Connect – launched its US operations in Miami from a full-service production facility owned and technically staffed by MediaPro US.
The rights management and production services company was also providing beIN Sports with the technical infrastructure and solutions necessary to create, produce and distribute a wide variety of sports shows on television and online.
Despite no live events for months in the US, the sports outlet’s staff of 70 journalists, producers and editors have been using nearline and archived assets on a daily basis to produce a wide variety of renewed content this year.
This includes a series of LaLiga classic soccer matches with new commentary provided by live announcers as a voiceover to describe the action with a new perspective. It also covers other sports, like tennis, MLW fights and even teqball (a combination of soccer and table tennis).
To support this frenetic activity the technical A/V systems integration team at Unitecnic U.S, led by Ismael Marcer, head of operations and technical services at MediaPro US, has implemented a 15,000 hour content repository based on a Vizrt Viz One MAM solution and an Object Matrix MatrixStore private cloud.
The highly flexible combination provides fast and unlimited access to all media assets in a myriad of ways, depending upon the project at hand, and can be easily scaled up as the need arises with no performance degradation. And because object storage is the same technology that enables the public cloud, it gives beIN Sports and MediaPro’s other clients an extremely cost effective, fast and highly scalable environment from which to streamline its internal workflows; the faster the beIN Sports editors gain access to content, the sooner finished programmes get to air.
“It was important to deploy a system that would not limit beIN Sports and what they are trying to do on a daily basis,” Marcer commented, adding that the Vizrt-Object Matrix solution was implemented especially for beIN Sports, although other MediaPro clients in Miami – DirectTV Latin America, ESPN and Hola! TV – use a similar production storage system configuration. In fact, the facility beIN Sports now calls home includes two additional studios. A second facility, with four studios right next door, opened in 2014.
Marcer went on: “We had confidence in Vizrt, knowing them from many previous projects overseas, and Object Matrix, because we wanted to implement the latest and most flexible storage system. They both had the best technical solution to fit our needs and also at a reasonable cost.”
The joint solution at beIN Sports now supports an automated content storage strategy that sees them place the most used assets on the object storage array for nearline use and older assets on the Viz One for later use. Due to sports rights licenses owned by beIN Sports, some content comes with a limit time period use, so the transient archive deployed – the data is not permanent – knows exactly when to delete the content when it can no longer be used legally. This self-managing technology, coupled with automated workflow integration, enables a rapid return on investment.
“This type of automated digital librarian is something that can’t be done with LTO tape storage,” said Marcer. “It really comes in handy when you have so many assets and then new ones coming in all the time. This allows the beIN Sports team to focus on creativity and not worry about where the assets are stored. They want them when they need them, so we make sure this is possible at all times while strictly adhering to rights issues as well.”
In Miami, Mediapro maintains 20 Viz Engine real time rendering servers, two Viz One MAM systems (one for beIN Sports and a smaller one for Hola TV), and 75 seats using Viz One. The upgraded Viz One uses a new 528TB MatrixStore installed in 2019. Content is edited on 15 Avid Media Composer systems stored in the XDCAM 50 format. There is also a tight integration between an Avid Interplay production asset management storage system, the MatrixStore object storage and Viz One to help editors search and retrieve assets and begin working quickly.
Viz One also helps simplify the content handling processes by allowing users to locate specific highlight clips quickly across several games, instead of having to search each game individually. The beIN Sports team uses it to search for clips among several games simultaneously, saving significant time and effort.
“When we put this system in in 2012, LT0-5 was the common storage media used for archiving,” said Marc Andreu, director of media management for MAM systems at MediaPro US. “With our file-based storage system, access is fast and easy. And we can add storage immediately if we need more.”
Andreu added: “Some companies own rights to content for a short period of time, so this is a good solution to keep track of that. After three months (or longer) they can delete the MAM using a purge date. Once that period expires, you cannot use the material, so it gets stored in another place or it is deleted. In this way, the Vizrt-Object Matrix solution is helping us to manage our storage better and be more efficient in how we use it.”
While all of beIN Sports’ content is stored in an on-premise configuration, both the Vizrt and Object Matrix systems have accommodations for integrating cloud storage in a hybrid architecture if and when MediaPro decides it is in its client’s best interest.
Andreu concluded: “Right now, as you might expect in these challenging times, beIN Sports is using Viz One like crazy. Here at MediaPro we always try to provide technical solutions that best fit our clients’ needs. Viz One and Object Matrix storage work so well together because both companies bring a forward-looking approach their respective technologies. That’s the kind of thinking our clients expect from us.”