SNTV Live launches to provide scheduled sports news coverage
Earlier this month, sports news video agency, SNTV – a joint venture between the Associated Press (AP) and IMG – announced the launch of SNTV Live.
“Since its inception in 1996, SNTV has become an indispensable service for more than 450 broadcasters and thousands of digital publishers globally,” states Martin Kay, SNTV’s managing director. “That service has been mainly edited packages that our clients could incorporate into their own output. This new video solution will provide live coverage of scheduled sports news events.”
He continues: “The demand for live sports news coverage is there, and has increased rapidly with the rise of live video capabilities, both in terms of newsgathering – for example, LiveU units – and increasing distribution on websites and social media platforms. We wanted to be able to provide our clients with more of the live coverage they were looking for around sports news events. It is also an excellent way for clients to ingest the content into their newsrooms immediately. That means even if they are not broadcasting or streaming the live content itself – they have the full ‘rushes’ of the event instantaneously.”
Kay notes that SNTV had offered clients several ‘ad hoc’ lives in recent years; for example, Gareth Bale’s transfer to Real Madrid and pre-fight live events around the Pacquiao v Mayweather fight. The company has also been regularly covering live the UEFA Champions League pre-match press conferences since last November as a testing platform ahead of fully launching the SNTV Live solution.
“The service is not restricted to events in the UK. We will continue to cover UEFA Champions League live pre-match press conferences around Europe, plus European World Cup Qualifier pre-match press conferences, and US sporting event final press conferences, including NBA, MLB and NHL. We will also cover significant live sports news events around the world, from a trophy parade in Australia, to a UFC bout in Malaysia and major soccer player and manager signings and transfers.”
Although SNTV makes the decision about which events to cover, it will also listen to requests from clients and will provide coverage wherever possible. For example, SNTV covered Jeremy Lin’s move to a new NBA team back in 2012 as a consequence of specific and high demand from the agency’s Taiwanese clients.
SNTV’s operation is centred on its head office situated in the IMG Studios facility in Stockley Park, West London. This facility is fully connected to AP’s London operation in Camden, in which SNTV also has an office. Typically, the news events will be fed live into AP’s facility in Camden, but this will depend on the source of the event. On occasions, the signal will be directed into IMG Studios.
Kay goes on to explain more about the involvement of these two founding organisations.
“Both IMG’s and AP’s sales executives around the world are liaising with interested clients. AP is providing the delivery platform and support. Clients that sign up to SNTV Live will be able to plan and book access to the content via AP Video Hub, with delivery via AP Live Choice,” notes Kay.
The content is offered via the AP Live Choice delivery infrastructure as either a RTMP stream or as broadcast quality HD SDI output from an IP connected decoder. Clients can purchase the live content using the AP Video Hub credits model or by buying packages of live content. Launched in 2015, AP Live Choice offers three live video channels for broadcast or digital use. SNTV’s live content significantly increases the breadth of live sports coverage available through AP Video Hub, alongside the existing live news, entertainment, lifestyle, environment and business coverage.
“The digital stream requires no hardware – just a one off set up,” explains Kay. “The HD broadcast solution requires a decoder – supplied as part of the licensing deal.”
Kay continues: “We will often use LiveU units to deliver our live video coverage. These units use a combination of 3G/4G and WiFi technology to feed back to the distribution point. But, in addition, some may be live events accessed via satellite or fibre. We will predominantly provide single-camera coverage – shooting and distributing in HD – however, we will on occasion be accessing live multi-camera OB feeds.”
He adds: “Although we have camera people and producers on the ground at the events, there will be no on-screen ‘reporters’ as we are a video news agency. However, our producers and crews will do one-on-one interviews or ask questions as part of a press conference, depending on the nature of the live news event. We plan to use both staff and freelance crews according to the event.”
As part of the ‘live’ service, SNTV will be distributing regular email alerts about upcoming events coverage. “The live coverage will also be incorporated into our regular client prospects emails,” says Kay.
In addition, SNTV works with AP’s live coordinators to oversee the operation. “The role of this coordinator is two-fold. Firstly, they will handle the logistics of setting up a live event for distribution, coordinating the live feed and schedules. Secondly, they will provide the first point of contact for customer service, should anyone have any questions or issues regarding the live coverage taking place that day.”
The introduction of the live service does not mean a reduction in the regular edited packages provided as part of the agency service. “We will continue to provide clients with our newsroom-ready and consumer-ready edits of these events. On the editing side, we are currently using Quantel QCut, but we are in the process of moving over to Adobe Premiere Pro.”
Kay concludes: “We feel that this is an exciting development for SNTV and we’re really pleased to be extending and improving on the service that we are able to offer both our broadcast and digital clients.”