XOS Digital Hits the Court Running With HD Replay for Basketball
XOS Digital has taken its HD replay system to the basketball court, introducing a system formatted specifically for college basketball. Although XOS already provides standard-definition replay systems to the WAC and Sun Belt and Mid-American conferences, this marks the company’s first foray into HD replay on the court.
“We’ve been doing replay in basketball for about three years now,” says Bryan Bedford, director of sales and business development, XOS Digital. “But we’ve realized that the market has changed as the technology has changed. This is an evolution of where our SD system has been for the last three years, but we see a much larger opportunity here.”
From the Field to the Court
The software-based system’s core technology is similar to that found in XOS HD replay for football, which was used by the SEC, Big 12, WAC, and Conference USA during the 2010 season as well as in 18 bowl games.
XOS HD Replay for basketball deploys a minimum of two HD IP-based cameras, usually positioned at high midcourt with one camera covering each half of the court. In addition, a synched video stream of the shot clock provided by a dedicated camera is inserted into the court-camera video feed displayed on the officials’ monitor. The system can also record up to three channels of video, allowing schools to ingest broadcast, in-house production, coaches’ cameras, or streaming feeds. Technicians also have the ability to zoom in on a freeze-frame image of a play.
Using a laptop on the courtside scorer’s table, a replay technician (usually a university employee trained by XOS Digital) tags and marks plays according to type of foul or violation and which official made the call. The technician can also assign data to significant or “highlight -worthy” plays.
“Because of the increased resolution and [integration of] the game clock, clients now have the ability to truly see whether a foot was on the line or if a shot got off [before time expired],” says Tom Fuller, director of product development, XOS Digital. “We’re also no longer reliant on in-house production or broadcast cameras. That guarantees that you’re going to get a good angle of each end of the court.”
One Giant HD Step for Basketball Replay
The HD system is a marked upgrade from XOS’s previous hardware-based SD system, which used a proprietary MPEG-2 encoder and was limited to just two video input channels, one from the shot clock and one from an in-house production or broadcast feed.
“This solution is now 100% software based,” says Fuller. “We’re doing video over IP, and the cameras are native IP. Those cameras are powered over Ethernet so there’s no need to run any additional cabling. Then, we use an HD-to-IP encoder to take in the feeds.”
XOS HD Replay is also compatible with XOS Review, a Web-based software application for managing, grading, training, and scheduling conference officials. XOS Review enables conference administrators to view full-game reports and video associated with each marked play in order to grade officials.
Reports can be broken down or generated by team, official, review type, violation, and foul. Plays marked for review in the XOS HD Replay system are automatically exported to XOS Review after games conclude. All plays marked as a “critical play” are immediately exported into XOS Review, which then sends an e-mail to the director of officials with a link to the video clip for review.
“With XOS Review, conference [officials] can go to a secure site and review the video clips,” says Bedford. “If there was a questionable play or questionable call in a game, they now have the ability to see that play in HD quality on the XOS Review Website, regardless of whether or not the game was broadcast or streamed.”
A subscription to XOS Review comes standard with the purchase of the basketball replay system.
XOS Targets Mid-Range Conferences
According to Bedford, XOS sees an enormous opportunity to serve the HD-replay needs of non-BCS conferences and women’s basketball conferences, which have yet to implement HD replay on a large scale. Given its software-based design, the HD Replay system is “not a significant increase” in price over the SD system, making it an attractive proposition for budget-conscious mid-level conferences.
“Over the next 18 months, I think you will see a good chunk of the country make this kind of investment,” he says. “When you get below the big football conferences, you’ve still got a dozen or so conferences out there. Right now, the majority of the conversation taking place is with that tier below the BCS conferences.”
The system can also export video for postproduction and coaching needs. This provides a valuable alternative for basketball programs that do not currently produce their games for broadcast or streaming.
“This is perfect for schools that don’t have a big TV contract or a big broadcast infrastructure,” says Bedford. “There is a big opportunity on the women’s side because there is less TV right now for women’s basketball. This is a very holistic approach to replay so [conferences] can plan for what they need when television is not involved.”