2024 NBA Finals Live Streaming to Select IMAX Locations in Hong Kong, Taiwan via StreamSmart On-Air Technology

IMAX is leveraging its StreamSmart On-Air technology to enhance the streaming experience for the Finals

This month, NBA China and IMAX China are teaming up to bring the 2024 NBA Finals live to select IMAX locations across Hong Kong and Taiwan, providing NBA fans with an immersive, one-of-a-kind viewing experience. This is the first partnership between IMAX and the NBA and marks the first time IMAX China has delivered a live sports experience to its audiences. Due to a lack of dedicated private network connectivity in the market, IMAX is leveraging its StreamSmart On-Air technology to enhance the streaming experience for the Finals.

IMAX quickly sold out the seats at all the locations. This was done under demanding network conditions (at some locations, internet connection was 50 Mbps – a fraction of what most homes in the US and EU have).

IMAX has developed an effective solution that does not rely on dedicated high bandwidth private networks, which allows IMAX to live stream content into the IMAX locations while upholding premium quality. IMAX employ a cutting-edge advanced video compression standard with an optimized configuration to reduce bandwidth requirement by approximately 40%. In addition, IMAX’s proprietary StreamSmart On-Air technology further reduces the bitrate by more than 20% on average without compromising on quality. By combining these technologies, IMAX can stream content at approximately 18Mbps, while maintaining a quality equivalent to a fully managed, private IP network-based setup – ensuring that audiences continue to enjoy a premium viewing experience for the 2024 NBA Finals.

StreamSmart On-Air uses VisionScience – IMAX’s Emmy-award winning technology that uses AI to comprehensively map the human visual system – to preserve exceptional video quality on live content, while further reducing file sizes on top of existing optimization methods. StreamSmart On-Air reduces bitrate of live streams, saving 15% or more on the cost of CDN distribution with no distinguishable difference to the viewer experience. It seamlessly integrates into an existing encoding and packaging workflow for minimal disruption to the tech stack, and uses a simple manifest manipulation approach, making it codec, encoder, and configuration agnostic.

“This collaboration with the NBA marks a groundbreaking step forward in IMAX’s strategy of widening the aperture of our content offering,” says Daniel Manwaring, CEO of IMAX China. “From the front row of Taylor Swift’s dazzling concert tour to courtside at the world’s most thrilling basketball games, IMAX now takes audiences right to the center of the action in more ways than ever before, elevating our role as the premier destination not only for blockbuster movies but for all-encompassing immersive entertainment experiences. By fulfilling the demand of a wider range of audiences with an expanded content portfolio, this strategic move positions us to tap into vastly broadened market potential.”

The partnership is the latest chapter in IMAX’s efforts to diversify its content portfolio — from sports leagues to gaming franchises to live global events.  IMAX has an ongoing partnership with the NHL to bring signature events — including the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the 2022 NHL Global Series — to locations across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia.

In July, IMAX will present NBC Television Network’s live coverage of the 2024 Paris Olympics Opening Ceremony across more than 150 IMAX screens in the United States. It is the first-ever Summer Olympic opening ceremony not held in a stadium, but rather with a four-mile-long flotilla of nearly 100 boats carrying thousands of athletes down the River Seine.

Additionally, IMAX China was instrumental in bringing “Taylor Swift: The ERAS Tour” to China in December 2023. The first ever concert film to be shown in IMAX across mainland China, IMAX delivered 45% of the film’s nationwide box office.

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