2021 Executive Reflections: Finding Opportunities Amidst Unprecedented Upheaval
When the pandemic hit the U.S. full force in March 2020, sports production was forced to accelerate technology changes that were already in motion but not expected to happen for several years. Health and safety came to the forefront of production concerns at the same time as engineers were racing to enable talent and tech to work from their homes. As always, the production industry came together as a family to deliver sports television to a public that was hungry for live entertainment. This editorial by Phil Garvin, President, Mobile TV Group is the latest in a series of “2021 Reflections” from SVG’s 2021 Sports Production Yearbook in which sports-production leaders look back on a year unlike any other and offer projections for the year ahead.
For mobile-unit vendors, 2020 was an exercise in survival, taking care of employees and trying to anticipate inevitable changes in our industry. Seminal upheavals such as we are experiencing are an occasion for companies to re-examine their priorities and look for opportunities to offer technological solutions for the new environment.
At Mobile TV Group, we decided to continue investing in the future while using much of our cash to minimize disruption to employees’ income. So we proceeded with our plans to build new mobile units (including 48 FLEX and 49 FLEX-CC). And we completed the R&D of Cloud Control, MTVG’s response to networks’ demands for more and better remote production.
On Sept. 25, MTVG successfully demoed Cloud Control using a “visitor feed” of an MLB game. Altitude provided a producer, director, EVS operator, and graphics and bug-box operators for a full-blown Cloud Control production. It was shown on a Zoom feed so that anyone interested could see it and ask questions. The response was very positive because the effort was able to achieve production quality equal to pre-COVID visitor feeds but without exposing production staff to the cost and risk of traveling to events. We expect to roll out Cloud Control for many RSNs for the upcoming NBA and NHL seasons and beyond.
One “good” result of COVID is that the leaders and engineers of the four leading mobile-unit vendors in the
U.S. and Canada have had several virtual meetings to find common ground on how to deploy such remote- production systems.