Major League Soccer Fiber Links Venues For Video, Data Sharing Connectivity

Gone are the days of relying on a courier service to deliver video content at Major League Soccer.

As the league kicks off its 19th season with a slate of seven games on Saturday, MLS is unveiling an entirely new video transmission workflow designed to connect all 18 of its venues and its home office in New York City. The fiber links will streamline video connectivity for game transmission for every MLS game to be used for international productions, highlight distribution and archival purposes.

MLS_primaryTo pull it off, the league signed a three-year agreement with The Switch-HTN Sports Group for full-time video and data connectivity.  The deal establishes a fiber transmission path between all 18 MLS stadiums with VISTA Worldlink’s transmission services hub in South Florida and the MLS office in New York.

“This now allows us to do more international, pick better games for international, and gets us our footage more quickly that we did in the past,” says Larry Tiscornia, Vice President, Broadcasting, Major League Soccer. “Sometimes we wouldn’t get footage until 24 hours after a game and much longer from Canada. That put the breaks on production, marketing, and promotion.”

The Switch will transmit all 340 MLS games in the season and will allow for the league to abandon its outdated courier service system and, instead, deliver video and data in realtime. No, the league’s regional and national broadcasters and in-venue video teams will have access to league-wide content more quickly and more efficiently by simply logging into a new FTP network.

“The Switch-HTN Sports Group has cultivated a relationship with MLS over the last ten years and we are thrilled to expand that partnership to become a more integral part of their day-to-day operations,” said Christian Kneuer, Senior Director of Operations and Client Relations at The Switch-HTN Sports Group.

SwitchDuring the offseason, MLS’ Vice President, IT John Sullivan also oversaw the bumping up if the bandwidth at all stadiums. The new pipes open up the chance for the league’s digital to cut highlights and send them back to the stadiums and broadcasters for ‘Around the League’ type packages, something MLS wasn’t able to do before.

“In our local markets for each of our teams we have strong fan bases, but for us at the league, its about pumping up the in-game video experience,” says Tiscornia, “and one of the routes to doing that is giving some added exposure to what’s going on around the league.”

Vista_Worldlink_Logo_Text_800x390_72dpiTiscornia added that this new workflow also helps the league’s disciplinary committee. In the past it would take two to three days for game video to arrive in New York for the league to review. In the case of, say a Toronto FC, the league may not get the video from a Saturday game until Tuesday or Wednesday. If Toronto had a game that Wednesday, the league would have a very tight turnaround on levying a suspension if it were warranted.

The three-year agreement between The Switch-HTN Sports Group and MLS will also support future league expansion including the addition of New York City FC and Orlando City SC for the 2015 MLS season.

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