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SVG@NAB Viewpoints: Sports Venues Find Plenty To ‘Crave’ on Show Floor

April 28th, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Karen Hogan

Team SVG was out in force during NAB 2015, with nine reporters scouring the show floor and checking out the latest in technology as well as sitting down with dozens of industry leaders on both the exhibitor and attendee side. These reports from the entire SVG editorial staff offer nine individual perspectives that, collectively, form a single vision of what NAB 2015 meant for today and, more important, tomorrow.

Another NAB Show has come and gone, and, as the dust settles (quite literally, after Tuesday’s sandstorm) and we reflect on the buzz from the exhibit floor, it’s clear to see that this year’s show was aptly themed. “Crave More” could be felt in every hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center: content creators seeking ways to feed their insatiable audiences, systems integrators hungry to find the latest gear, technology manufacturers sniffing the tantalizing possibilities of IP and 4K.

It’s no surprise that, whether in the stands at a sports venue or at home in their living rooms, fans crave content beyond the game itself. Venues, in particular, are responding by adding cameras — often, high-resolution and high-frame-rate models — in the bowl to capture exclusive content for fans in attendance. The main videoboard has become more important than ever, and game-day production personnel constantly seek new and unique ways to populate these giant canvases.

Click Effects showed off its new Master Controller, which ties every CrossFire and Blaze system into one user interface. President/owner Cliff Wight reports that, when the systems were developed less than 10 years ago, the company never imagined that a venue would purchase more than one or two. Fast forward to today, and teams like the Philadelphia Eagles boast 11 Blaze and 14 CrossFire systems and need a better way to control them. Gone are the days when a static lineup or generic fan prompt is enough to wow audiences; today, several channels’ creating several independent layers of graphics has become the norm.

Outside the bowl, fans still need to keep in touch with the game, and several advances in fan engagement — particularly IPTV — could be found throughout the LVCC. Cisco, long a key player in the venue space, unveiled its StadiumVision 4K at the EVS booth. From an external device, such as an iPad, the digital signage could be configured to do a number of things: rolling a sponsor message across all screens, playing synchronized content on every screen, highlighting a real-time deal at concessions. VITEC and Imagine Communications showcased their IPTV offerings as well.

Of course, with the number of devices and platforms on the market, fans expect to satisfy their need for content at the touch of a button. Cisco and EVS emphasized their integration with Cisco StadiumVision Mobile and EVS C-Cast, leveraging the EVS replay ecosystem in the truck to deliver multiple video feeds to mobile devices. The push to monetize mobile offerings continues to be the big question mark, and Adtec Digital, Brightcove, and Elemental drew attention to their ad-insertion capabilities.

On the control-room side, systems integrators BeckTV and The Systems Group kept their ear to the ground in Las Vegas to hear about new technologies and gauge the viability of IP-based workflows and 4K. The verdict? Integrators are interested in the possibilities of these trends but doubt that any venue will want to go all in on IP or 4K in the near future. IP-based workflows will most likely be adopted gradually as venues upgrade their control-room gear, creating hybrid workflows that allow venue operators to slowly gain confidence in IP capabilities. 4K, on the other hand, continues to be seen at various points in the venue-video workflow: Sony, Evertz, and Grass Valley showcased the success of their respective 4K-capable gear, and Ross Video exhibited the 4K upgrades for its Acuity production switcher.

Yes, attendees at this year’s NAB Show were hungry, and not just because the concourses perpetually smelled of pizza. Sports fans crave more content, and content creators crave new ways to repurpose that content and, one day, hopefully, a way to make money off it. Systems integrators crave new ways to streamline video workflows for their venue customers, and it looks like technology vendors are up to the challenge. And everyone craves answers on what the future holds for IP-based and end-to-end 4K workflows, but we may need to wait until NAB 2016 and beyond to be fully satisfied.