SVGE/IMG Tour & Conference: Nick Moody on IMG’s giant Premier League Productions operation and its storytelling imperative
Nick Moody, IMG Productions, head of Premier League Productions (PLP) operations, says that during the 19-year relationship between the two companies one thing is at the core as they deliver Premier League content around the globe: storytelling. “It underpins everything we are trying to do,” he said during the keynote address at SVG Europe’s facility tour of IMG Productions outside of London. “With 200 territories and facilities for clients overseas who want to do remote production we want to get them as near as they can to the game.”
The primary property is the live match coverage and the goal is to produce a robust and clean production of each match. That requires a staff of 50 fulltime employees as well as 55 seasonal and Gameday personnel. “There is a huge amount of additional freelance support,” said Moody. “And the key is to have a look, feel and identity for all 380 games.”
Along with the live match coverage is the offering of the Superfeed that has multi-angle replays, a dedicated wide-angle shot, a tactical camera feed, and interviews. “We distribute about 5,000 hours of content on average per week,” said Moody.
That large amount of content shows provides just how insatiable the appetite of rights holders is to have more content during the week. “We offer additional services to all broadcasters that are fully produced around the live game content,” explained Moody. “We also produce a standalone 24/7 network with live studio shows, re-runs of matches and more, and the rights holder can customise their own channel by taking the content they want or simply putting the channel to air.”
That also means offering rights holders access to plenty of highlights, slow-motion clips, magazine shows, and more (each day there is 5.5 hours of studio content produced for rights holders). For example, there are 20 ENG crews and reporters that do weekly interviews with each club, a total of 680 per season (in addition to the also countless promos created as well). And magazine shows now number seven.
“We have three zones of content [creation here at IMG],” explained Moody. “A hard zone for more formal match coverage, a soft zone for magazine shows, and then additional areas of the building, like the canteen for our Saturday morning show.”
There are nine purpose-built galleries at IMG for match production with a director, EVS operators, graphics, audio mixing, and more. Every live match also includes augmented reality and graphics via Piero/Red Bee and deltatre with content stored on an EVS server network.
“The material is only useful if it is properly logged and accessible on a reliable system,” he added. Coverage, for example, includes 10 minutes of iso camera angles per match as well as a shortened version of the match. Fibre services provider ADI built out the network that allows for dedicated commentary to be delivered via ISDN, unilateral cameras, pre-and post-match interviews, control of the Qball camera system, and hi-motion ENG cameras and isolated match camera signals to be send back from each stadium.
“The key to the service is robust and a diverse delivery of the match feed and that has become more complicated over the years,” said Moody. “Last season our colleagues at ADI installed a fibre system that can scale and bring more than 40 feeds into our IMG facility and that will grow to more than 60.”
The Hawkeye multi-angle replay service also benefits from the network as it is produced back at IMG’s facility. For each match 14 camera signals are recorded on site and then sent to a server at the IMG plant.
“We take control of the replay here and select them for use on any given match with one operator selecting angles and facilitating getting the replay onto the clips channel,” explained Moody.
The future will undoubtedly include greater capabilities as purpose-built stadiums continue to come on line and offer greater facilities for the unilateral broadcasters. And the capabilities of the ADI network are also expected to double, allowing for even more content to travel to and from the compounds at the stadiums.
“We are sourcing stories constantly because that is what rights holders want,” he said. “It goes back to the beginning: everything is about storytelling.”