SVGE/IMG Tour & Conference: exploring the rise of global broadcast ‘superfeeds’
IMG Media head of broadcast services PLP Mike Endersby, Premier League Productions broadcast operations manager Nick Morgan and ADI UK group CEO Geraint Williams discussed the move by IMG to field a separate truck dedicated to delivering a ‘superfeed’ of Premier League games to broadcasters worldwide – and the extent to which this model might be applied elsewhere.
IMG initiated a superfeed approach in response to international demand for matches involving the top four teams in the Premier League. “Superfeed caters to a simplified way of providing to many broadcasters,” said Morgan, whilst Endersby elaborated on the logic of “being able to deliver as much content in as timely a fashion as possible. One client [recently] said that we do transmit every frame you deliver, so can you give us more?”
“There are no geographical differences, so to speak; broadcasters all over the world are glad to have the opportunity to take superfeeds,” said Morgan, adding that the offer is strengthened by the ability to “offer broadcasters some options and elements of ‘personal flavour’ in the superfeed”.
Since agreeing a contract with Premier League Productions in 2012, ADI’s Live Venue broadcast fibre platform has become instrumental in delivering Premier League football to an expanding global audience. For ADI, Williams highlighted “massive growth” in global interest in the superfeeds and some areas in which the service can continue to be enhanced. “One value-add [that can be considered] is to bring that back to the clubs,” he said. “Some clubs have four live channels, so there [is a continual need] to consider what both venues and rights’ holders want internationally. [In particular] latency is a big issue, and lots of work has gone into getting the latency factor down as much as possible.”
“Remote pan and tilt cameras are being looked at, with tracking data. In fact, there are all sorts of exciting technologies that are getting to a realistic point [where they might be adopted],” said Endersby, who believes there is “no reason” that the superfeed approach could not be applied to other sports in the future.
Inevitably, thoughts turned to 4K and the impact this might have on superfeed delivery. At present, there “isn’t really a demand for 4K” in this way, noted Morgan, who drew comparisons with the progress of HD at a point when “the UK market was pretty advanced – perhaps not as much as Japan, but not far behind – and where people are talking about it and still figuring out what to do. However, I don’t think it is yet the no-brainer that HD was. Whether it is going to be a consumer product or a tool for enhancing production is not clear yet.”