FIBA’s AEK Athens streams international games with Monarch HD
Basketball federation FIBA is well known for taking innovative steps to further this fast-moving sport and the way it is presented across the media to millions of people.
It comes as no surprise that the federation has embraced streaming video. FIBA made it compulsory for its member teams to transmit certain parts of international games (such as coach and player interviews, and peripheral actions) over the internet, allowing more fans to watch. AEK Basketball Club (AEK BC), one of Greece’s biggest teams, grabbed this opportunity readily.
Antonis Prentzas, who oversees the technologies used by AEK BC, says, “Anything that helps us communicate with our fans is a good thing. We operate in a fast-changing media environment. In sports, it gets even more complicated as we all consume and produce content about our favourite teams on multiple social media channels. The more material you put out there, the better it is for devoted fans to use in their everyday networking.”
During a regular basketball league season, that lasts from October to May, AEK BC is scheduled to play one or two games almost every week in the National League. In addition, the club participates in international FIBA matches, including the Basketball Champion League. AEK BC wanted to make the star of the game, coach, and other player interviews and press conferences from all games available to worldwide fans in real time, as well as highlights of the games soon after.
The club decided to look out for a simple to use, reliable, and compact encoder that would allow them to stream live as well as record high quality content in any venue.
The Matrox Monarch HD, a small, portable, H.264 hardware encoder scored high points as the streaming and recording tool of choice for AEK BC. Prentzas explains, “It is a deceptively simple machine that gives a very high-quality stream with very few steps. Connect the camera, switch on, and stream!
“Previously, we used another solution that needed many more steps (with more points of failure and issues). This created a tremendous amount of uncertainty, making it necessary to have the supplier on-call each time, and be present at the venue for setting up at least an hour ahead.
“Now, with the Monarch HD, we just turn up, plug in, press the button, and it takes care of everything for us!” Prentzas continues, “AmyDV, our technology consultants were a huge asset in helping to choose the right solution—Matrox Monarch HD—from the wide range of options available on the market. Whenever I needed something they were right beside me. It is a pleasure to work with them.”
Monarch HD provides the content, such as coach and player interviews, to a server that uploads live to the FIBA website (http://www.livebasketball.tv/) for fans from around the world to watch. Simultaneously, higher quality files are recorded to an SD card for creating video assets (such as highlights) to complement the live stream. These H.264-encoded files with a small footprint (smaller file sizes) make uploading to post-house quick and painless, aiding in the overall turnaround times.
Live streams are published to FIBA’s website with ease for thousands of basketball fans to watch. Monarch HD also makes it easy to create highlights from various team events for AEK BC’s fans to view on demand.
“One thing is for sure. Sports is a major part of many people’s lives, and it will continue to remain so. We constantly need to produce more content to meet the fans’ demands. There are many devices that claim to help with streaming and recording, but the simple solutions, such as Monarch HD, get the job done perfectly,” said Prentzas.