Turner’s PlayON! Sports technology streams Big Ten Network Basketball Games
By Andrew Lippe
PlayON! Sports, a division of Turner Sports have joined forces with The Big Ten Network and they will produce and distribute 11 live basketball games for free on www.BigTenNetwork.com. The first scheduled contests will include the season openers for Iowa and Minnesota on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. CT.
“We provide a pretty low-cost, high-quality kit that enables you to do a three or four camera production of a sporting event and stream it live on the Web,” says Phil Sharpe, SVP/GM of PlayON! Sports.
PlayON! Sports are well affiliated with the college market as it is distributing online sports coverage for the ACC, the Atlantic Sun Conference (A-Sun) and even the United Soccer Leagues (USL). The Turner studio is located across the street from Georgia Tech’s athletic fields and that got many Turner employees talking. “We have Georgia Tech alumni who wondered why they couldn’t see sporting events over the internet,” adds Sharpe.
PlayON! Sports technology focuses on the video production and distribution of numerous schools’ sporting events. They discovered teams were in contact with websites and marketers but needed help in distribution. Many of these schools needed assistance in getting video and audio distributed on the web. “We tried to take out all the headaches on how to hook up to a streaming service,” Sharpe said.
PlayON! Sports software is based on the Turner broadcasting infrastructure, using Turner’s servers, and their streaming service. The Big Ten Network is trying out the distributing technology over a stretch of now 11 basketball games. “I send up one of my teams with a kit, we shoot the game, then we stream it for them and then they get to see how we do it,” says Sharpe.
The servers encode at 755 and 350 bit rates, and are distributed via Windows Media. The servers adapt to the consumers’ bandwidth and can play at high and low speeds. However they are not quite ready for HD distribution. “That is going to take a bigger bandwidth because a lot of these venues are quite old,” Sharpe adds.