Vive Network Turns Live 4K Fight Into a Calling Card
Partnership with Classic Entertainment Sports and WBC aims to meet demand for live streaming in 4K
For anyone tired of streaming live sports in anything less than 4K HDR, Vive Network has an upcoming lineup you’ll want to see. On Saturday, Feb. 23, Vive is partnering with Classic Entertainment Sports (CES) and the World Boxing Council (WBC) to stream a night of fights. The marquee event will be a championship match between Jamaine Ortiz and Ricardo “Conejo” Quiroz, both undefeated lightweights, as they battle for the WBC World Youth Lightweight Title.
Bringing this lineup from Rhode Island’s Twin Rivers Casino to boxing fans around the world will take the work of a specialized group of partners in a workflow organized by Vive. Vive will capture the fights using Grass Valley cameras and switchers, creating the UHD HDR video. An on-premises Harmonic Vibe CP9000 contribution encoder will create high-quality compressed video. Zixi will upload that video over the public internet (no satellite truck needed) to Harmonic, which will use its Vos 360 SaaS to transcode, package, and encrypt it. The resulting adaptive-bitrate file will go to Tulix, which has created the payment gateway for the event and will deliver the secure files through its CDN.
Sports fans want to stream live 4K video to their big-screen sets, but so far content has been scarce. Vive founder John J. Jacaman saw an opportunity there, but getting to this point took work.
“It’s not an easy thing to do,” he says. “We’ve gone through a lot of trial and error and a lot of work to be able to do it. It’s expensive. I think this is a situation where somebody had to do it, somebody’s going to do it, and I thought, ‘Well, why not now and why not us?’ I think people will say, ‘Hey, it’s working; we should get on the bandwagon.’ There is a lot of interest. It’s just that nobody’s really stepped up to the plate.”
Although live streaming in 4K is expensive, Jacaman says the technology is the real hurdle. He sees strong interest from both viewers and broadcasters but says that broadcasters are waiting for someone to make the first move and prove they have a system that delivers.
That’s why this lineup on Feb. 23 is so important to Vive. It’s not just a night of fights; it’s a calling card for the company, a chance to show that it can pull off live 4K HDR streaming and win some customers.
Although Dallas-based Vive has been around for a few years and done streaming before with Harmonic, this is its first big offering. A chance introduction to an event promoter on the East Coast led to this partnership, and Jacaman is hopeful that he can demonstrate the value of his service to other fight promoters as well. Although he doesn’t know how many customers will pony up for this night of fights, he says an audience of 50,000 or 100,000 would be tremendous.
The matches on Feb. 23 are just the start of Vive and CES’s effort. This will be the launch of Vive Live, a platform featuring live 4K HDR sports events and a 24/7 linear program guide so that something’s always on the air. The network should debut soon after the fight night.
If it sounds like there’s still a lot to be decided for both the events on Feb. 23 and the network, there is. Jacaman is still holding discussions with interested rightsholders, so he’s not sure yet what the full list of content on Vive Live will be. He hopes to attract sponsors, so pay-per-view and subscription fees won’t be the only monetization sources. He expects the network to integrate sponsorships into the events, rather than showing commercials. This is just the start, and Jacaman is dreaming big.
“At the end of the day,” he says, “we want to be able to do this from anywhere, even other countries. Recently, I had a potential customer ask me if we could do something from Japan. That’s the goal. The goal is to be able to offer this from anywhere.”
The fight night on Feb. 23 will start at 7 p.m. ET and will be available through iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Sony, and LG via a downloadable Vive app. Jacaman is considering offering the event on Facebook Live as well, although he wouldn’t be able to charge on that platform. With a week to go, he has some decisions to make.