UEFA TV Production debuts next-generation services to enrich match-day content offering

Ahead of the 2015/2016 UEFA Champions League season, the first of a new three-year rights cycle, UEFA is set to broaden the range of broadcast and digital services offered to its rights holding broadcasters. These ‘next generation services’ will enable broadcast partners to access significantly more of the content produced on-venue by UEFA.

“Across a typical UEFA Champions League match night, upwards of 15 cameras are on hand at every venue to capture the match action,” explained UEFA’s Head of TV Production Bernard Ross at Sports Video Group Europe’s Football Production Summit 2015 in Barcelona. “Now, from the 2015/2016 season, broadcasters will have access to a wider selection of clips and content from a selected number of these feeds for exploitation across both ‘second screen’ digital platforms, such as web, mobile and tablet, and post-production broadcast.”

To supplement this new enriched content offering, UEFA will also be providing broadcasters with an enhanced graphics, data and statistics service. UEFA will also be trialing a state-of-the-art ‘audio watermarking’ mechanism imbedded into the multilateral ‘world feed’, enabling broadcasters to utilize further marketing strategies across second screen devices.

These services will be delivered by UEFA in conjunction with deltatre and the EBU as service providers. Workflow testing has been ongoing since the start of the 2014/2015 UEFA Champions League season, and will be showcased at the 6 June UEFA Champions League Final in Berlin, ahead of launch at the UEFA Super Cup in Tbilisi, Georgia on 11 August.

All these solutions will be offered to broadcasters as individual bookable services, allowing broadcasters to construct their own unique UEFA Champions League experience for the fan.

The challenge

Coordinating, processing and distributing this additional content represents a new challenge for UEFA and its partners, with the new operation significantly more complex than the work that deltatre, HBS and Netco Sports provided for FIFA’s digital coverage at the 2014 Brazil World Cup.

“With a dedicated IBC, the World Cup operation is made simpler by having all material available through one central location,” Ross told SVG Europe. “UEFA Champions League venues stretch from Arsenal to Zenit St Petersburg, and not all stadia are equipped with dedicated fibre connectivity. With up to eight matches per night, this represents a far greater operational and technical challenge.”

Digital services

Currently, deltatre has been appointed by UEFA to provide a number of services from each Champions League venue. These include on-air graphics generation which is directly embedded into the multilateral feed, and data capture for UEFA’s official results system, produced using a combination of a player tracking system and dedicated in-venue spotters.

Now UEFA, in collaboration with deltatre, will supply an enhanced production out of the venue with full digital capture. This will provide broadcasters with three additional ISO camera live streams, multi-angle clips, data feeds, on-air graphics and infographics for audience consumption in a component fashion.

“The origin of the project was to find a way to gather all that content from the venue and make it available to rights holders via a public cloud enabling broadcasters to offer an enhanced digital experience and to reach further audiences,” Gilles Mas, deltatre director, told SVG Europe.

This content can be wrapped as a both a white-label and comprehensive turnkey solution for web, tablet and mobile, with a self-contained video player (SDK) and accompanying data widgets, provided directly from deltatre in a flexible manner for incorporation into the UBPs existing digital portfolio.

Broadcast services

Broadcasters will also receive the option of receiving broadcast quality near-live UEFA Champions League additional footage direct to their location. Seven to 12 minutes per match of unseen angle clips will be delivered during the live match, with an additional fifty minutes of content delivered after the match. Broadcasters will also have access to video content generated by UEFA or the host broadcaster, for example the News Exchange Feed produced the day before each match.

This broadcast quality content will be pushed direct to the broadcaster’s location via the innovative ‘UEFA Box’, capable of storing approximately two match days’ worth of aggregated content.

Audio watermarking

UEFA will also be trialing audio watermarking at the venue, a process that involves embedding audio stamps at source into one of the audio tracks of the multilateral feed. These stamps are attached to the appropriate match footage, and enable broadcasters to further market their second screen experience.

As Olivier Gaches, Digital Media Solutions Manager at UEFA explained, “A Lionel Messi goal would be instantly audio watermarked linking the match action to a series of relevant additional content available on the viewer’s second screen – for example, further information about the player, an opportunity to view a selection of his previous Champions League goals or an Adidas e-commerce promotion.”

The workflow

The dedicated on-site UEFA production unit, via their multi services van, will take 12 camera feeds direct from the host broadcast OB truck at each venue. Up to three of these feeds will be live encoded and pushed to the cloud as a live stream made available in mezzanine and transcoded format.

Simultaneously, all 12 feeds are ingested to the EVS C-Cast onsite, hosted in the multi-services van, for retrieval of unseen multi-angle footage. These feeds are then pushed to the cloud and to the UEFA Box.

The final next generation services workflow is the trial encoding of the multilateral feed audio channel with audio watermarks. These three new services will be completed in parallel with the established graphics workflow and data feeds, which will now be uploaded to the UEFA ‘central content production factory’.

Content delivery

UEFA has appointed the EBU to provide signal transport from the venue over the Eurovision fibre and satellite network. Content will then be packaged, transformed and offered to broadcasters via the Interoute cloud platform.

Broadcasters can retrieve the live feeds directly from the cloud origin points. The multi-angle feeds and clip reels enriched with metadata from C-cast, as well as the graphics assets and data feeds, will made available for download via UEFA’s deltatre-hosted cloud platform.

The EBU UEFA Box will also offer broadcasters another material transport option. Situated at the broadcaster’s premises, broadcast quality clips produced at each venue will be uplinked and pushed to directly to their location.

“These new next-generation services represent an exciting step forward for UEFA TV Production,” Ross told SVG Europe. “Building upon the foundation of many successful years of UEFA Champions League broadcasting, and the strong ties with our service providers, the viewer can now be provided with the opportunity to watch and catch-up with more UEFA Champions League action, across a variety of platforms, than ever.”

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