SVG’s Sports Asset Management Forum Opens Eyes, Minds With In-Depth MAM Case Studies, Part 2

Brandon Costa and Karen Hogan contributed to this report.

Sports Video Group’s seventh-annual Sports Asset Management (SAM) Forum is in the books, and he full audio files and PowerPoint presentations from all of the SAM pro and college league case study presentations will be available soon on the SVG Members Area. Here is part two of SVG’s recap of the day’s events (CLICK HERE FOR PART ONE).

NFL Films
While all nine of the presenting leagues a the SAM Forum are considered trailblazers in sports-asset management, few were further ahead of the asset-management game than NFL Films was in 1995. That was when NFL Films hired a network analyst to begin building network architecture and a software developer to begin writing code — and the SABER asset-management system was born. NFL Films went on to develop in-house and build out a revolutionary new system that was among the first of its kind in sports media.


Dave Franza, NFL Films & NFL Network, VP/executive in charge of production application development & support

“Anybody starting out should develop their requirements spec first before doing a single thing,” said Dave Franza, VP/executive in charge, production application development and support, NFL Films and NFL Network. “Don’t go anywhere, do anything spend a single dime, until you have a very good idea of exactly what your user needs. And don’t give them anything they don’t need. At the beginning of the system, that is very critical.”

SABER would evolve significantly throughout its phase-one development (1996-2000) and then further during phase two (2000-12), serving both NFL Films and NFL Network. Now Franza and his team are looking to the future, toward integrating SABER with Avid Interplay for all off-line edits, with online HD ProRes for broadcast-quality video, with LTS long-term and back-up storage, and with the NFL Films new Content Licensing Management System. In addition, NFL Films has made further support for smartphone and tablet apps a priority.

SABER has evolved and now, with the NFL Network on the West Coast, the goal is to have any producer anywhere be able to go on any computer or tablet — remotely or in the office — and find any desired shots, directly edit them, and create a show.

The NCAA underwent a robust digitization process over the past decade, thanks to its partnership with T3Media (formerly Thought Equity Motion).

T3 Media's SVP of Sports Operations Brett Wilhoite (left) and Nate Flannery, NCAA, Director of Championships and Alliances, Digital and Social Media

Brett Wilhoite (left), T3 Media, SVP of sports operations, and Nate Flannery, NCAA, director of championships and alliances, digital and social media

Prior to its current asset-management strategy, the NCAA possessed a physical archive that, according to Director of Championships and Alliances, Digital and Social Media, Nate Flannery, “was a monstrosity to say the least.” Inside were more than 33,000 assets in a mixed bag of formats.

“The physical copy was playing with fire,” Flannery said. “I say that because a fire would have destroyed our archive. We would have lost our footage forever. This was something where redundancy had to happen because, if we had any sort of damage, it as going to equal loss.”

The NCAA may not be dealing with as much content as many of the professional sports leagues that presented at Sports Asset Management Forum — only about 2,800 hours of content per year — but its deep history and wide variety of sports (89  championships) made the digitization process an intensive one.

In addition to crisis management, the NCAA looked to monetize its new archive, launching digital campaigns such as the NCAA Vault and 75 Years of March Madness.

“Assets drive demand,” said Bret Wilhoite, SVP of sports operations at T3Media. “Once we started making Web-based video available through our browser system, where people could preview [the content], find the content that they were looking for, do some clipping; the demand for content began to increase exponentially. There as a demand to do more things in different ways with that content.”

Notre Dame
Two years ago, the University of Notre Dame’s athletic department took the university  out of the self-proclaimed “stone ages” with the establishment of Fighting Irish Digital Media (FDIM). The state-of-the-art broadcast facility is also a campus-wide media infrastructure designed to connect the entire university, not simply its athletics.

Scott Rinehart, Fighting Irish Digital Media, University of Notre Dame, Lead Technologist

Scott Rinehart, Fighting Irish Digital Media, University of Notre Dame, lead technologist

“It has been set up as a lab for the rest of the campus, because nothing like this exists around campus,” said Scott Rinehart, lead technologist at FDIM. “When I first brought the OIT team in to start talking about my storage and bandwidth needs, they’re thinking I’m going to be moving around Excel files and Word documents, which is what they’re used to. Instead, we were looking at 100-gig files, 150-gig files, 400-gig files, and I’ve got to move them all at one time.”

One of the most significant advantages that the FIDM team had working for them was strong support from the top; the easiest way to get through the traditionally red-tape–ridden university universe.

“Because [Director of Athletics] Jack [Swarbrick] is supportive of this, we have the ability to get things done without the normal bureaucracy within the system. That is, unfortunately, a problem at other institutions: you want to do it, and you want to get it done, but there’s always someone telling you that you can’t do it or you don’t have the money.”

PGA Tour Entertainment, the full-service video-production arm of the PGA Tour, established its own media-asset–management (MAM) network for the purposes of archival preservation and to build a file-based workflow that connects from ingest all the way through to archive.

David Dukes, PGA Tour Entertainment, Senior Director, Technical Operations

David Dukes, PGA Tour Entertainment, senior director, technical operations

Justifying the relatively large expense that MAM software and hardware can present is a challenge for any production team. In the eyes of David Dukes, senior director, technical operations, at PGA Tour Entertainment, his department has an obligation to protect the visual history of the game of golf. That meant taking a step up from the physical video archive.

“We really wanted to get that point across that the clock is ticking,” he said. “The risk of these videos aging and something happening to them is increasing.”

At the time PGA Tour Entertainment was looking to sell the bosses on an asset-management system, the company’s facility was also undergoing the switch from SD to HD. It was the perfect time to strike.

“We weren’t looking at replacing tapes in SD cheap; we were going to be replacing them with $100,000 HD 10 SR machines. When we were doing this, at one point, we had 45-something tape machines. When you start laying out the costs of those at $80,000 to $100,000 a pop, you start building up a case very quickly from hat you’re going to have to spend if you don’t move away from tape.”

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