How The Video Call Center Is Revolutionizing the Concept of Caller Video

Innovative startup breaks down tech barriers for sports-content producers

It’s no news flash that smartphones have changed the world, and, in sports-video production, they have blown the doors off what is possible.

As digital workflows grow, geographic and technological barriers crumble away. These days, content creators can go live on social media with little more than the tap of a screen. The creative options seem endless.

The connecting thread between cellphone-based video and broadcast quickly caught the attention of the minds behind Palisades, NY-based The Video Call Center (VCC), which has been refining the ability of video straight from a phone to deliver the quality that high-end–content producers desire.

The Video Call Center, which specializes in the optimization and deployment of video-call technology in live content production, recently struck a partnership with Major League Baseball.

You don’t have to look back very far to find a time when a sports-television producer would laugh at the idea of taking a video call from just anyone and putting it on-air. How quickly things change.

“[Content creators] need to understand how it frees them from some of the constraints they have in their current production process,” says VCC CEO Larry Thaler. “I think what we are seeing is a maturation of that process in the market. People are digesting the ability of video calling to be used in broadcast.”

In little over a year, the company has produced 575 full live shows, connected nearly 6,000, and boasts a call reliability of 99.31%. And it is just getting started.

The buy-in is certainly big with sports clients: the company has established a partnership with Major League Baseball and has worked with the NBA and Fox Sports. What the VCC team finds interesting is that each client finds unique ways to leverage the technology, whether it’s using it purely for fan calls or bringing in a former athlete as a guest or co-host in studio programming

“One thing that’s been consistent despite the difference in product and ideas,” says Jaclyn Lennon, manager, marketing and admin, VCC, “is that all of these different sports-content creators are coming to us looking for new ways to tell the same story they have been telling over the past 50-60 years. Whether that new story is about bringing in fans, reaching a former player who can’t be in the studio, or even showing their live games differently, they are all trying to change the story around sports to appeal to new generations.”

Since its inception, The Video Call Center’s value proposition is in offering the technology and services to give raw caller video the professional shine and gloss it needs. That can mean handling everything from optimizing the connectivity of the call; matching the application with the capabilities of the network within which the client is working; framing, lighting, and positioning the guest; and other quality control.

The company has also worked to see what elements of the call control can be automated, including removing the return call feed and the embedded Skype handle.

Fox Sports’ regional networks have leveraged VCC’s technology to bring in guest hosts from anywhere to participate in pre/postgame shows.

“We have become way more sophisticated,” notes Head of Production Tom Porpiglia. “Now, when we show a potential client our technology, it’s more streamlined and easy to use. Once the client is not thinking about the technology and how it works and just using it as a tool, it’s way easier for them to be creative. Producers are trusting it and just getting even more creative with it.”

The Video Call Center’s mission to meet the needs of its clients has also shaped its growth and direction. At NAB 2018 last month, the company rolled out a new version of its solution called Call Manager Pro, which handles much of the automation and hands some of the controls over to the user.

“We’ve always been about flexibility and getting the best call quality possible,” says Head of Software William Milne. “I think with that flexibility comes a lot of complexity, and what we have done over the past year is distill the use cases and automate away a lot of the hard parts. The technical stuff is almost transparent at this point.”

Still very young, The Video Call Center has already positioned itself as a leader in this segment of the content industry and, with its technology evolving, has a bright future. Sports-content creators — and their viewers — are set to benefit.

“You can get good quality from any person from any location and use that to enhance your broadcast,” says Thaler. “It’s a powerful tool.”

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