Fox Sports taps Tricaster for NFL, MLB Webcasts

By Ken Kerschbaumer

After a successful experience using NewTek’s Tricaster Studio at the MLB All Star Game Fox Sports VP of emerging technology Clark Pierce says the network will continue to use the system to expand the amount of content it delivers to sports fans. The $10,000 system has six live video inputs, two digital video recorders, and the ability to handle graphics and even virtual sets.

“When we used it at the All Star game it exceeded our expectations,” says Pierce. “We thought we would take a single feed from the truck and encode it but it allowed us to cut a real TV show.”

The Tricaster unit was used by Fox to produce two Web casts. The first involved taking an output from the Grass Valley Kayak production switcher during batting practice and adding in graphics, B-roll, pre-edited clips and commercials. The second involved taking feeds from POV cameras in the truck during the game for four innings to give viewers a look behind the scenes of an MLB production.

Pierce says the network, which owns one Tricaster Studio and will add a second, will Web cast two events from its NFL Seminar in the middle of August: a roundtable discussion featuring Fox Sports NFL announcers and commentators and a lively presentation by the NFL on rules changes. The network is also in discussion with MLB to Web cast batting practice during the American League Championship Series and World Series and is also considering broadband distribution of Big 12 football games that won’t air on TV.

“We haven’t even scratched the surface of how to use this system,” says Pierce. “It’s very cost effective and is also a great way for people to learn how to produce a TV program. In time this will be a great entry point for people.”

In fact, he believes the system will expand the number of people working in the sports production industry. “Just like Apple’s Final Cut Pro has increased jobs so will this,” he explains. “There is more and more demand for a two-screen experience and this enables us to meet that insatiable demand.”

Philip Nelson, NewTek VP of video marketing, says the MLB All Star game was an amazing week for the company. “The design goal of Tricaster was to enable more live television and this changes the entire cost structure,” says Nelson. Pricing begins at $6,996 for Tricaster Pro and tops out at $10,000.

“The biggest difference is the additional outputs and having two DVRs instead of one,” he says.

Nelson says NewTek has experienced a flurry of activity related to sports production. “We’re being bombarded with requests for things like the Arena Football Bowl at the end of July where they’ll have exclusive content for the Web site,” he says. “We were on the bleeding edge with this product for live streaming but now we’re to the point where fans are embracing it.”

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