Sky Sport Italy Summit 2024: An insider’s view on the operations and innovations behind Sky Sport Plus

As the Sky Sport Italy Summit returned to the Milan Santa Giulia headquarters of Sky Italia on 27 June for its 2024 edition, the imminent launch of Sky Sport Plus was high on the agenda. Rossella De Vivo, production & creative hub director at Sky Italia, moderated a panel that delved into the mechanisms behind the channel, which is dedicated to offering premium, exclusive, and high-definition sports content, and the implementation of scalable and resilient solutions, considered fundamental for managing traffic peaks and ensuring a seamless user experience.

Sky Sport Plus offers the opportunity to follow more major international sports events, with in-depth analysis, interviews and reviews. It also includes advanced features such as multiscreen viewing and 4K HDR for an enhanced viewing experience.

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The panel featured Pierluigi Magliano, group director of origination & distribution operation / director CT&I Italia, and Giuseppe Laurita, lead of production application development, and Davide Gandino, head of group distribution, Sky Italia.

Magliano explained: “Sky Sport Plus was created to meet the growing market demand by offering an expanded range of sports content. The key is to manage this increased offer and make it valuable in a convenient and comprehensive way. This includes using new content distribution methods, from reception and packaging, to enhancement through metadata and optimised distribution.”

Laurita, describing the “behind the scenes challenges faced by Sky Sport Plus”, said that it “is supported by a data-driven technological architecture. The main challenge was scalability, requiring a rethink of existing architectures and operational processes to deliver a high volume of content without overloading current processes. Sporting events are managed granularly, thanks to a data and cloud-based architecture. Everything starts with the acquisition of editorialised sports data, crossed with the rights matrix. This allows us to define, event by event, on which platforms, in which countries, and within which parameters to distribute the content. Data drives the entire process, from technical resources to providing metadata on various device apps. Real-time data integration and updates trigger a process that effectively manages all cloud resources.”

Gandino spoke about the advanced distribution of sports content revolutionised by Sky Sport Plus, stating: “This solution allows in-depth coverage of each sport’s specifics, making the best use of acquired rights not only for main matches but also offering a broader range of complementary content.”

“Data drives the entire process, from technical resources to providing metadata on various device apps”

He added: “We focused heavily on operational and economic efficiency, avoiding excessive fragmentation of management resources through data-driven automated solutions. This includes managing on-premises resources, booking, configuration, and using cloud resources to dynamically and cost-effectively handle usage peaks.

“From an environmental perspective, we are committed to reducing CO2 emissions, following Sky Zero standards and aiming for overall efficiency. The entire process has been automated, driven by metadata and work orders that automatically configure all downstream systems. This strategy allows for the broadcast of a wide range of content that previously did not find space on front channels, ensuring sustainable and financially responsible management.”

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Magliano discussed the background operations, stating: “They have undergone significant changes, with the implementation of a new operational model that first and foremost required a new mindset. We have rethought many areas, including editorial aspects, to support the new operations of the events. The adoption of a multi-level approach in event management has guided the development of a new integrated operational model, enabling the management of the entire process from work order acceptance to final control.”

This new model allows a single operational team in any country (Italy, UK, Germany) to manage and monitor events for the entire group. The merger of operations and the technical side has facilitated the review of operational principles and intervention logics, leading to the development of a comprehensive framework.

He concluded: “Starting from the need to publish a larger number of contents and metadata on apps, we faced (and won) the challenge of effectively integrating all stages of the operational process.”

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