Mediapro, Neulion partner for 4K El Clasico production
FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, two of the most popular football clubs in the world, faced off in El Clasico last Saturday. Mediapro Group, the production company behind all of La Liga’s match coverage, was once again on hand with a large HD presence for the match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid but it also produced the match in 4K and deliver it via NeuLion and also a new UHD app developed by Overon, a member company of the Mediapro Group. “What makes 4K so exciting is that it significantly enhances the experience for our fans in Spain,” says Emili Planas, Mediapro’s CTO. “Fans continue to ask for ways to get closer to the match and the field of play, and with 4K, that experience feels like you are sitting in the stadium. With NeuLion we will bring 4K to our fans anywhere in the world and be the leaders in the production and delivery of 4K events. “
The 4K production included eight Panasonic 4K cameras as well as iMovix ultra-slo motion 4K camera that were exclusively used for the 4K production, according to Planas. But the 4K efforts were part of a much larger production that includes 73 camera positions for both international and unilateral feeds.
“We have six HD OB vans and one UHD-4K OB van working on the Clasico,” says Planas. “The 4K van, OB39L, is based in Eumovil which is in Madrid. In this case it is operating side-by-side with the HD production for a different feed.”
Planas adds that none of the HD cameras was upconverted to UHD, a move that maintains a pure UHD/4K feed.
“We downconvert the 4K programme and some of the UHD cameras to HD to help the HD production in case of problems with the HD cameras,” he says.
The match was available live in 4K in Spain via VodafoneTV (an IPTV service) or Movistar+ (an IPTV and satellite platform). It was also available via other broadcasters in 4K but not as a live match. In addition, Mediapro worked with NeuLion to distribute the match in 4K directly to smart TV sets.
“We are working with NeuLion for test purposes and we will also test the NeuLion encoding with other TV manufacturers as we evaluate different options for next season,” he says.
The NeuLion Digital Platform is an end-to-end platform providing licensed components from content ingestion, encoding and management to content security, monetization and monitoring that together streamline the content delivery process. The platform facilitates the streaming and sharing of high-quality content up to Ultra HD/4K, including premium sports and entertainment content.
“Streaming the “Classico” soccer match live in 4K for the first time, is a new milestone, as we lead the momentum in the end-to-end delivery of live 4K sports to internet connected devices,” says Dr. Kanaan Jemili, CEO of NeuLion. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to partner with Mediapro and Overon and over the coming months we expect to continue to deliver great compelling experiences to sports fans.”
Chris Wagner, NeuLion EVP and co-founder, says the NeuLion encoder is located in the UHD production truck where it took the 4K signal and encoded it using MPEG-DASH.
“MPEG-DASH is the way to go go because it scales better,” says Wagner. “The European market is more focused on MPEG-DASH.”
Once encoded the signal was sent to Sony UHD sets as Sony UHD sets are already equipped with the NeuLion SDK. That SDK allows for the Overon 4K app to deliver the 4K stream to the TV set at 4K resolution and at 60 frames per second.
The Sony UHD sets were located at viewing locations around the world, including Camp Nou Stadium (where the match was played), Mediapro/Overon offices in Barcelona and Madrid, and NeuLion Offices in the United States. The Overon 4K app will be made available for select 4K devices in the coming months.
“The PPV model will emerge for 4K sports content and we can deliver it via over-the-top services,” says Wagner. “Movies are great but at the end of the day sports becomes the real anchor for the guys selling the TV sets.”