During NFL Draft, Teams Stay Connected With Glowpoint

By Carolyn Braff

For the
seventh year running, Glowpoint will keep all 32 teams connected during next
weekend’s NFL Draft at Radio
City Music
Hall. Glowpoint, an IP-based managed-video-communications-services provider, connects ESPN and NFL Network analysts on
location at Radio City Music Hall
with general managers, players, and coaches at all 32 NFL team sites, as well
as ESPN headquarters in Bristol,
provisions high-quality IP communications that enable two-way communications
between a commentator and a player, coach, or GM at any of the 32 sites,”
explains Dan Boland, VP of broadcast for Glowpoint. “We wind up installing a
video IP data service that makes that possible.”
As a network
of networks, Glowpoint purchases the best-quality bandwidth available from Tier
1 providers and puts those connections on its own IP space running across the
nationwide Glowpoint backbone of routers and switchers.
“We buy the
really premium stuff, and that’s how we get that level of quality across a low-bitrate connection,” Boland explains. “If we just use the regular business-class services, it would look like garbage.”
With this
year’s draft being produced entirely in high definition for the first time on
ESPN, garbage-quality video is simply not an option.
ESPN makes
no hardware investment for the draft coverage, as Glowpoint supplies all of the
hardware, and the network uses Glowpoint’s services regularly in Bristol for SportsCenter and other daily programming,
so no setup is required at that site. For the 32 team sites, however, it takes
Glowpoint staff about six weeks to get everything ready.
“We have to
construct the network, install and test each site, verify each site, get it all
game-day ready, and then it’s two days’ worth of lights, camera, action,” Boland
explains. “The following Monday, they tend to still do a couple of hits on shows
like Outside the Lines, and then, by
Tuesday, it’s all gone.”
Network’s Glowpoint connection remains in place year-round, so Boland’s team
does not have much to add to that setup, except in St. Louis. This year, the Rams have the
second draft pick, which in recent years has become the true story on draft day
(since the first pick is often announced before the draft officially gets
under way).
“We sourced
Fletcher Camera to put up a Draft Cam for the St. Louis Rams, so on draft day,
the NFL Network will zoom in on ownership, the GM, the coach, and everybody in
the draft room to show all of that anxiety and tension leading up to their
pick,” Boland explains. “That draft-room cam in St. Louis is our innovation for this year.”
Glowpoint’s services instead of putting 32 satellite trucks at team sites
across the country takes some financial pressure off the broadcast networks,
and, for Glowpoint, doing the two-day event helps the company expand beyond
annual-agreement clients.
“It gets
easier every year,” Boland explains. “We haven’t had difficulty in the past few
years at any site and 11 days before the draft, the entire network was already
fully installed.”
Draft takes place April 25 and 26 at Radio
City Music
Hall in New York.

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