Sports Content Management Forum: Broadcasters and Vendors Unite for Tailored Storage Services

Teams, leagues, and networks discussed their one-on-one vendor experience

Many fans see the tip of the iceberg in the form of success on the surface of play, but the other 90% submerged underwater comes with efficiently storing content that will ultimately become consumed. Whether you’re situated in the heart of the biggest media market in the United States, a part of one of the largest professional leagues of the century, or have recently held the Stanley Cup over your head for so long that your shoulders hurt, solidifying a reliable media management system is one of the cornerstones of a winning formula. At the 2019 Sports Content Management Forum, executives from the sports world were joined by their respective vendors to discuss the process of developing a customized system to address their business challenges.

Belinda Binkley, Brent Angle, Kendall Ginsbach, Jonathan Carr, Eric Siders, and Jeremy Strootman take attendees inside their MAM strategies.

Calling Gloria: St. Louis Blues Ride a Winning Wave With CatDV
After an unexpected yet dominating run to etching their names on the 126-year-old trophy, the St. Louis Blues ingested a boatload of virtual material that the franchise hasn’t dealt with in years. With footage that ran the entire gamut of possibilities, including highlight montages, game recaps, the celebration parade, and personal moments between the players and their families with the Cup, the organization became a bit perplexed with the task at hand.

“It was overwhelming, and we weren’t really prepared for it at all, but with the help of our MAM [system], we were able to fulfill our requests from NBC and [other media outlets in] Canada,” says Eric Siders, video production manager, St. Louis Blues. “We made the Western Conference Finals a couple of years ago before getting CatDV and we honestly turned down a lot of requests [because] we didn’t have the people or resources.”

For this past Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins, a plethora of these requests required Siders and his staff to tap into the vault for archival footage, especially for the game-winning goal by Bobby Orr in Game 4 that occurred 49 years ago.

“This particular matchup with Boston was funny because, in 1970, we also played Boston in the Stanley Cup Finals during the last time we were there,” he continues. “Through the offseason, we were able to tag and digitize a bunch of footage, archive it and put it away, so when all of the broadcasters came calling for famous goals and highlights from that series, we were able to very quickly search the date and players to find it.”

Although the Blues had their needs and concerns, CatDV’s partnership with the team was a two-way street that allowed them to harness skills and ideas that could be leveraged by other entities.

“Being able to continually work on new functionalities, rolling them out to new people, and providing new value and monetization to those assets over time, is what we’re striving for when we get into a relationship,” says Jeremy Strootman, VP, business development, CatDV. “Furthermore, what Eric and other teams provide to us is the ability to work on what’s important to an NHL team. I can’t do that alone as a vendor without a partner. Having a relationship where you can play in the same box and come up with something really neat that could help benefit other teams, that’s the kind of relationship that we need to have.”

Problems in the Big Apple: CineSys-Oceana Resolves MSG Networks’ File Sharing Workflow
Despite being in one of the pantheons of media creation, MSG Network wasn’t always up to speed in the contemporary storage trends. As a company that deals with all sorts of live event production, some of the archaic methods being used by the staff caused a bit of chaos.

“We accomplished all of the media workflows needed without MAM and it was a great challenge,” says Belinda Binkley, VP, engineering, MSG Networks. “One of the bigger challenges was the way that we shared the media and it was quite chaotic at times because we had portable drives, video tapes, CDs, we were sharing files over unsecured internet, files on people’s computers with strange names that no one could search. No one was really following a great naming convention, so we knew something needed to change.”

In order to open the door towards the current age of thinking, Binkley brought in Cinesys-Oceana for a crash course on what needed to be done.

Eric Siders details how the St. Louis Blues balanced the onslaught of content from their 2019 Stanley Cup victory.

“Those pile of hard drives under people’s desk was sort of their media asset management system and they already had a Final Cut server that was in place, but it was being used in a very limited fashion,” says Brent Angle, CTO, CineSys-Oceana. “The first step was to basically get the data centralized so we can archive it in one place.”

A Gridiron Guideline: NFL Links With Levels Beyond for Stable Infrastructure
In a league that deals with content from 30 teams, a functioning television partner in the NFL Network, a production-arm in NFL Films, and hundreds of players that they employ, the NFL is up to their neck in media assets. Since the league has a visible presence on social media and is churning out multiple forms of subject matter, the league needed a sturdy foundation that could handle the stresses of a busy season.

“We wanted to organize a central depository with a primary goal of preserving, securing, but also enhancing that content, so we could have new uses for it,” says Kendall Ginsbach, digital media architect, NFL. “We needed to develop a system that was going to be nimble, flexible, and adapt to the assets that were coming from each of the different entities, so we wouldn’t be locked into one single format. Over the years, we’ve been working on this little by little, and today, it’s about 206,000 videos, 100,00 images, every Super Bowl that’s been broadcasted, and some of the top plays that have been made during the history of the NFL.”

When the league came calling for a vendor, Level’s Beyond came calling to rise to the occasion to create a complex and durable network.

“Kendall has been extremely helpful by identifying rollouts that focus on user adoption. That’s been a huge key to the success of this [platform] by starting out with an edict of ‘build it and they will come,’” says Jonathan Carr, solutions architect, Levels Beyond. “As that user base has grown, they have thoughtfully addressed business needs through a curated manner.