IBC 2018 Preview: The Impact of IP on Sports Production

Key benefits are scale, format flexibility, suitability for at-home workflow

When IBC2018 opens next week, its IP Showcase will feature 36 IP installations from all over the world: Europe, North America, South America, Asia, and Australia. Of these installations, 25% will be either production trucks or centralized facilities for at-home production. Clearly, more and more sports-production companies are deploying IP trucks and facilities, and the Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS) sees the impact of IP on sports production as stronger than on other live studio applications.

Michael Cronk

According to many people responsible for these installations, IP offers several key benefits to sports production.

The Ability To Scale
Scale is one of those benefits and one of the first reasons production-truck vendors were compelled to consider IP. With SDI routers, scaling beyond 1,152 inputs by 1,125 outputs is difficult. A few years ago, as U.S. production demands for cameras and monitoring grew for such sports as golf and NASCAR, Game Creek Video, NEP, and other companies turned to IP routing to build larger trucks in their fleet.

More recently, NEP in the UK built an IP system that was the equivalent of a 3000×3000 SDI router. What is particularly instructive about it is that the system was not built as a massive monolithic system. It comprised multiple production trucks and flypacks connected together, demonstrating that, with IP, flypacks can be smaller than traditional trucks but use the same equipment to achieve effective scale. This scale provides the production staff access to more signals and more monitoring than ever.

Multiple Formats, Existing Infrastructure
Another key benefit of IP in sports production is format flexibility. By its nature, IP can carry any data, and, if the IP switch has sufficient port speeds, the same infrastructure can carry SD, HD, UHD, and compressed video without requiring anything new.

Format flexibility on existing infrastructure has been a key driver in the adoption of IP in mobile production, especially in countries that are investing heavily in UHD. For example, in the UK, where both BT Sport and Sky broadcast Premier League in UHD, mobile companies needed a technology that not only allowed them to bid on UHD Premier League contracts and handle HDR but also gave them the flexibility to use their trucks for HD work as well. Enter IP.

As fall 2018 approaches, UK mobile-production companies Arena TV, NEP, and Timeline have made significant investments in IP and can support HD, UHD, and HDR.

All systems have bandwidth limits, but IP is far more flexible (and has higher bandwidth) than SDI. Moreover, the SMPTE standard for video over IP, SMPTE ST 2110-20, supports