SailGP deploys Tata Communications Virtual Video Assisted Referee for ‘anywhere refereeing’

Tata Communications is enhancing the sports experience of fans with its Virtual Video Assisted Referee (V-VAR). Powered by Tata’s Media Cloud, V-VAR enables an unlimited number of umpires, referees and judges to connect remotely from anywhere across the globe to assess and declare the winner when contestants are racing to the finishing line, offering a high-tech, nail-biting experience for fans during a race. With this Tata Communications says it offers sporting events and federations the flexibility of ‘anywhere refereeing’.

Global sailing championship SailGP is the first sports organisation to deploy V-VAR for its nine-event 2021-22 season with its umpires located in London, Portugal and New Zealand. SailGP Season 2 spans across Bermuda, Italy, UK, Denmark, France, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and the US. Tata Communications is carrying 20+ video feeds from the broadcast centre at the event venue-site. Every signal is instantly available in Media Cloud. Through these applications, V-VAR takes the concept of VAR to the next level, allowing judges from all over the world to analyse the action and officiate remotely as if they were ringside at the event.

Warren Jones, chief technology officer, SailGP, said: “We are excited to be the first sport to use Tata Communications’ Virtual Video Assisted Referee solution. We are constantly looking at ways to innovate and use technology to not only bring our global fans closer to the action, but also to create digital solutions that support our Race for the Future ethos. V-VAR not only ensures that our umpires have immediate access to all the data needed to make crucial, split-second decisions, but also – by being able to operate remotely – we reduce the carbon footprint of our umpiring operations.”

In addition to the V-VAR solution, SailGP also leverages Tata Communications’ Video Delivery Network (VDN) – a low latency streaming platform for delivering a broadcast experience direct to consumer. VDN combines traditional broadcasting and OTT applications, providing high quality, low latency, synchronous viewing along with interactivity and next generation data feeds. The VDN-powered SailGP app was available to sailing fans at the Bermuda event, enhancing their ability to interact while enjoying the live competition.

Dhaval Ponda, global head of media & entertainment business at Tata Communications, commented: “We are happy to further digital innovation and help reduce carbon footprint in live sports through the Virtual Video Assisted Referee solution. Also, our low latency streaming solution enables global sports federations to deliver video in sync or faster than live TV. From umpires to fans, these digital solutions enable organisations to offer a thrilling and high-drama experience to the entire sports ecosystem.

“Our experience of delivering over 9,000 global live events across multiple sports disciplines has so far reached over 2 billion sports fans with sports content delivered across various broadcast platforms. We are excited to be a part of SailGP, a one-of-its-kind global event, and are looking forward to an exciting season.”

With a dedicated and secondary TV audience of 257 million in its first year, SailGP is an annual global sailing championship that showcases world-leading sustainability, technology and entertainment to accelerate change. In Season 1, over 133,000 spectators watched the event live and cutting-edge technology helps enthusiasts get closer to the action than ever before through a close-to-shore stadium racing format, innovative broadcasting and an app. Each Sail Grand Prix includes two competition days, featuring five fleet races leading to a final winner-takes-all race to decide each event winner. The nine-event season culminates in a Grand Final in San Francisco in March 2022 where the team’s face-off in a single 15-minute race for the sport’s largest monetary prize.


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