PGA.com Delivers for Golf Fans

For golf fans stuck at the office, nothing beats the opportunity to watch tournaments like the PGA Championship from their computer desktop. And, for Turner Sports, the outlet gives TNT television network an opportunity to leverage production facilities and personnel for an offering that, over the years, has become easier to produce.

“We’ve learned to understand the limitations of doing joint productions,” says Tom Sahara, director of remote operations and IT fir Turner Sports, of the challenge of building an online-programming feed around course-camera feeds that are primarily creating programming for the TV broadcast.

The feed is based primarily on course-coverage cameras provided by CBS Sports, which broadcasts coverage on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Turner Sports will build the PGA.com feed using signals that originate from CBS hard cameras in towers, greenside cameras, and wireless handhelds.

“We also have two wireless Sony handheld cameras that fill in any gaps or can be used for reports from [reporter] Craig Sager,” says Sahara. BSI is providing the wireless transmission systems.

The PGA.com feed covers a marquee group and also has a studio show shot in a B-unit. The makeshift studio is spacious and also has air-conditioning to make it comfortable for talent and guests.

Both camera and audio signals are delivered to Turner’s TS1 truck, where the PGA.com program is cut like a regular TV show. “Then we use MPEG-4 transmission to get it back to Atlanta, where it is then sent to an encoder farm, where versions in multiple bitrates are created and then fed out to the content-delivery networks.”

While serving the fans online is the goal, it is important that the production needs of the online team don’t get in the way of the TV production for TNT and CBS.

“The level of production is all broadcast-quality, and that makes it simple to interface because it all stays at 1080i,” says Sahara. “It’s all very clean.”

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