White Paper: How Digital Media Complicates, Simplifies, Enhances Sports Broadcasting All at Once

In an age when digital content is enjoyed at the viewer’s convenience on a host of devices or platforms, sports are really the last vestige of “appointment television.” In fact, for many of the sports events drawing global viewership this summer — the Olympics, Tour de France, F1, MotoGP — fans still come together in front of their TVs, lending a bit of nostalgia to how sports are consumed.

Interxion Standard LogoAlthough TV is still the predominant way to watch live coverage of sports, fans are swiftly shifting to digital consumption. They want to watch sports in the highest possible resolution and have an enhanced viewing experience through such delivery models as online streaming and interactive broadcasts on social media. In turn, this is having a large impact on the production infrastructure required to deliver the action in real time to fans the world over. Often, interconnected data centers can be a simple answer for this data-intensive challenge.

High-Res Broadcasts Create an Uptick in Exchange of Data
Committed fans are willing to pay a premium for high-resolution broadcasts that deliver a crystal-clear viewing experience. Whether watching from a local bar or their living room, fans want to watch their sports in 4K on Ultra HD (UHD) televisions and connected devices that deliver resolution that is eight times more precise than HD.

The advance of technology on the viewer’s end of the broadcast requires that rightsholders and service providers invest in production equipment that can capture and deliver a pristine, high-resolution product. However, delivering this premium content also demands much more bandwidth, storage capacity, and processing power than broadcasters required in the past.

This is great news for carriers, which benefit from the broadcasters’ increased bandwidth needs. But the uptick in data requires that broadcasters increase their storage and processing capabilities as well to house and exchange UHD content. For many, interconnected data centers facilitate the increased need for storage and processing as well as introducing them to a network of carrier, CDN, and cloud resources that can help improve the delivery of the final product.

A network of interconnected data centers can increase the agility of the production infrastructure and even streamline the amount of manpower needed in the field to produce a sports broadcast. Rather than sending a massive crew to produce a telecast like the Olympics, for instance, NBC and other broadcasters that own rights to the event can rely on fiber and tech-based data centers to produce it remotely. Crews can easily send footage from the event to a highly connected facility, which then sends it the home studio for postproduction.

This data-center network limits the need for a large team to produce a broadcast in the field, which can help reduce the manpower and equipment required at the event to produce a live broadcast. This process ultimately helps keep overall operating expenses down while still allowing broadcasters to flexibly deliver a premium product.

This is also a benefit for “traveling circus” events like F1, tennis, and motorcycle racing, which require broadcasters to constantly travel between remote locations the world over. If broadcasters have access to an interconnected network of strategically placed data centers, production values never have to suffer even though the team of producers at the actual event is relatively small.

Agile Production Infrastructure Can Enhance How Sports Content Is Consumed
Although television has been the main method of consumption for sports broadcasts, the devices and channels that have replaced TV when it comes to consuming other content types can actually help enrich sports broadcasts.

For instance, although a broadcaster may have rights to televise a sports event, fans often use second screens to access supplementary live streams, detailed analytics, social groups, or even news feeds that let them customize their engagement. It almost lends an augmented reality to the viewing experience, because fans can further interact with what is happening in the live broadcast on the television via an alternative channel on their own device. This all requires additional processing to produce the various video formats and integrate data and graphics.

Major League Baseball exemplifies how sports broadcasting can be a multichannel experience. The league uses a host of cameras to capture the game from multiple angles to meet the broadcast-quality demands of viewers with UHD subscription packages, giving fans greater insight into the game than even being in the stands. Not only is this improving how the game looks on television, but fans can use additional devices to choose alternative camera angles to enhance their perspective.

Interconnected Data Centers Can Simplify Production, Enliven a Broadcast
These new methods of filming and production double down on the bandwidth and capacity demands surrounding versatile sports content and also speak to the agility possible only with access to interconnected data centers. Consumer demands are higher than ever, but hyperconnectivity has made it easier for broadcasters to deliver and actually raise the bar. It has also contributed to making the world a smaller place — for the better — by removing many of the geographic barriers that once restricted viewing.

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