SVG Europe’s Sport Facility Integration Summit: AV, IT networks converge in today’s connected stadium

(Left to right) Cisco’s Paul Depperschmidt, ColosseoEAS’ Lenka Kunecova and ALC NetworX’ Andreas Hildebrand.

(Left to right) Cisco’s Paul Depperschmidt, ColosseoEAS’ Lenka Kunecova and ALC NetworX’ Andreas Hildebrand.

There’s a great convergence happening on both sides of the pond, as sports venues in the US and Europe pursue greater integration between AV and IT systems. At last week’s Sport Facility Integration Summit in Amsterdam, panellists and audience members debated how this convergence might affect the sports venue industry.

For Cisco’s Paul Depperschmidt, the growing convergence between AV and IT systems helps sports teams connect with their fans in the stadium by integrating content creation and delivery workflows.

“We’ve seen more changes in the last five years than we have in the last 50, as far as stadiums are concerned. There’s quite a bit going on,” explains Depperschmidt, manager business development. “Probably the primary thing that we’re seeing is the multicast video concept: being able to drive any type of content to any type of display, wherever it might be.”

The ability to push video to multiple displays, including mobile devices, enables venue operators to connect with their team’s fans during the game and give them access to exclusive content, camera angles and more.  And by giving fans access to video they can’t get at home, fans will continue to attend games in droves.

“All these tools can bring the fans back to the stadium,” says Lenka Kunecova, sales director, ColosseoEAS. “This is the biggest battle for the stadiums — to bring the people back from the living rooms and be active in the stadium.”

More than content

Once fans are in the stands, venue operators can use fans’ mobile devices for more than just exclusive content. By integrating POS and ticketing onto the converged network, venues can push concession deals or ticket upgrades out to fans alongside video highlights, boosting ROI.

“The main thing to close with is this is not about technology,” says Depperschmidt. “It’s much more talking to the new type of customer, frankly, that you’re going to deal with, which is going to be the marketing managers or the venue operators who drive the way that the system runs as opposed to the IT manager or the AV manager. It has to come from the ROI direction first, well before you start to talk about technology.”

Not to be forgotten, converging AV and IT networks benefits broadcasters as well. ALC NetworX’ Andreas Hildebrand noted that the move from proprietary infrastructure to a more inclusive infrastructure enables visiting production trucks to simply ‘plug in’ at the truck dock and trust the cabling that’s already in place.

“We are able to route signals in a much more flexible and elegant way to all the venues,” explains Hildebrand, senior product manager. “Let’s just assume for now we had an OB van coming up rolling out cables – fibre, copper, or whatever – to every microphone place, every camera place. Now, with a network, you just [connect] one big pipe from an OB van to an already existing stadium infrastructure and we can make use of the already existing infrastructure.”

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