ITV Sport, premier UK sports producer for the ITV network, has turned to LiveU to provide an enhanced viewer experience at the 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC) and as a tertiary disaster recovery (DR) solution, backing up satellite and fibre feeds.
ITV Sport is using portable LU600 HEVC units around the country in three teams, each providing a range of additional material beyond match coverage. These roving teams, with embedded reporters, send their material direct to ITV Sport in the UK for both edits and live reports. This enables the producer to concentrate on the content without having to worry about how the material gets back to the UK. Additionally, highlights presentation links are also sometimes fed via LiveU.
Roger Pearce, Technical Director, Sport, ITV Sport Productions, said, “We’ve used LiveU with our reporting teams for a number of years successfully to enhance coverage. At this year’s RWC we have two separate jobs for LiveU: live/store/forward material from our reporting teams and DR feeds from our presentation studios and OBs.”
Pearce explains that the idea to use it as a traditional contribution path only came to the forefront when they were looking at low-cost options to provide high-quality DR feeds that are completely diverse to normal fibre and satellite delivery. After testing using existing LiveU infrastructure, it proved a simple and cost-effective solution, according to Pearce.
The LiveU DR setup is two-fold. ITV Sport has deployed an LU600 and LiveU Xtender active external antenna (the first time in Japan) for the tertiary backup direct to their playout provider Red Bee Media in the UK. Secondly, at ITV Sport’s Maidstone Central Apparatus Room, a receiving LU600 and another Xtender can be used to send a feed from there to their playout provider should they be unable to use traditional links.
Pearce added, “The transmission DR feeds workflow is important to us as it provides a usable feed at a reasonable cost. For events like the RWC where failure is not an option, it’s a valuable tool to ensure we deliver our coverage reliably to the viewer. For our roving teams LiveU gives them the freedom to roam, and flexibility to get material quickly to air. The opportunity to use LiveU to provide cost-effective contribution feeds has been very successful and we look forward to their future developments.”
LiveU’s UK partner, Garland Partners, assisted ITV Sport by upgrading their units to full international specification and provided a pool of cellular data from local access Japanese operator SIM cards for the whole tournament. Garland also supplied an additional UK SIM card data pool for the UK Maidstone Xtender.
Paul Shepherd, Regional Sales Director, LiveU, said, “We’re very pleased to support ITV Sport across this Rugby World Cup. We are beginning to see an increased use of our technology for disaster recovery and it’s especially exciting to see that it’s being used for a high reliability requirement at such a major sports event.”