LiveU Technology Brings Enhanced NBA Coverage to China

Numerous sports leagues talk about “going global,” but few do it better than the NBA.

Last week’s Finals saw more than 300 international media members from 37 countries journey to Miami and Dallas to cover the series, which was televised live in 215 countries and territories in 46 languages. In addition, all games were available live online and on mobile devices in 200 countries and territories.

Throughout the season, the NBA looked to increase its outreach to one of its favorite international markets: China. For the second year in a row, LiveU video-uplink technology was used to bring NBA basketball to the world’s most populous nation through NBAChina.com.

Ya Chin Chang, a bilingual reporter, was credentialed at NBA-sponsored events, where she would interview players in English and translate in real time to Chinese for those watching the live streams online.

NBAChina.com reporter Ya Chin Chang (center) interviews Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash during All-Star Game festivities. The crew member in the foreground is using a LiveU video-over-cellular transmission backpack.

“China is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing markets for the NBA in terms of number of fans, merchandise sales, and general interest,” says Ken Zamkow, head of sales and marketing for LiveU. “The NBA was looking for a way to strengthen its relationship with its fans in China and enhance their experience and their level of engagement.”

To do that, a LiveU system was used to broadcast live shows and interviews during the season from different arenas at events from the All-Star Weekend through the Finals.

LiveU is changing the way live events are covered, with broadcast-quality, video-over-cellular backpack solutions that allow live video transmission (HD and SD) from any location around the world. Those solutions include multiple 4G LTE/3G, HSPA+, WiMAX, and WiFi cellular links, which are optimized for maximum throughput via all the connections available simultaneously.

Ingesting video from a camera, switching device, or any video source, the LiveU system transmits it via multiple 3G and 4G connections, as well as via Ethernet and WiFi if needed. This season, the NBA used the third generation of the LiveU device, known as the LU60. Zamkow says the NBA saw marked improvement in the performance of LiveU equipment, even when broadcasting out of the cavernous tunnels of some NBA arenas.

“I think the NBA found that the bandwidth was much more consistent with the newer device,” he says. “With the older device [LU30], we used standard USB. They got great results; every week, they were streaming from a different place. But I think now they are getting even better results from inside packed arenas. Before, there may be dead zones in certain parts of the arena where they couldn’t get great bandwidth so they would have to move to another part of the arena, potentially. Now it doesn’t really matter; anywhere in the arena they can get a good signal.”

The latest edition of LiveU technology has proved itself at numerous events, including this week’s Dallas Mavericks championship parade as well as Super Bowl XLV in Dallas.

“In Cowboys Stadium, with approximately 100,000 fans on their phones, we were able to push very high-quality video out at over 2 megs per second,” says Zamkow. “We’ve had similar results at [Madison Square Garden] during Knicks games when it was full of fans. Not even just at the center of the arena but in the tunnels, where connectivity can be really poor, we were able to push video seamlessly and at extremely high quality before, during, and after the game.”

LiveU’s LU60 software is able to bring dead zones to life through a built-in, proprietary antenna that leverages highly advanced RF technology. With all its broadcast technology encased in a small backpack, LiveU is now deployed in more than 60 countries and appears to be in the live-event-coverage game to stay.

 

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