Tightrope Media Systems Sees Opening for Zeplay in Changing Instant-Replay Market

After more than two years in development and hundreds of games, Tightrope Media Systems’ Zeplay instant-replay platform has hit the market and is being deployed at several facilities around the country. Released in August, the eight-channel (four in/four out) Zeplay system is available in an HD (8440HD) and SD (8440SD) model.

“Zeplay was built by passionate people who have actually operated replay systems and who know what [operators] want in a replay system,” says Andrew Starks, CMO/co-founder of Tightrope Media Systems. “Zeplay has been hardened from the software side through internal testing as well as intensive field testing.”

Zeplay features 160 hours of total HD recording time (40 hours per channel), support for resolutions up to 1080i and all international frame rates, independent control of every output channel, a built-in multiviewer, frame-blended slow motion, and a dedicated controller for the fast-replay workflow.

The system also includes redundant power as well as RAID protection for both video and system drives. This protects Zeplay from total power loss, saving the game and the video so that the user can resume action as soon as power is restored.

Over the past two years, Zeplay has undergone thousands of hours of beta-testing at events ranging from the local sports on community television to pro sports venues. Among these beta tests were the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Target Center, the St. Paul (MN) Saints’ Midway Stadium, and the Minnesota state baseball championship, which was broadcast on KSTC Minneapolis-St. Paul from two mobile trucks with 13 cameras and eight channels of Zeplay.

“We knew that Zeplay had to be very fast and extremely reliable because the market has been poisoned with so many failed attempts,” says Starks. “If we were not those two things, we would not only fail to sell many units, but we would not have a chance to recover. That is why the two most important features of Zeplay are its reliability and its speed.”

Zeplay units are currently shipping in the U.S., Canada, and Taiwan. Starks expects that Division I and Division II stadiums will make up the bulk of the early Zeplay user base, with pro venues representing a smaller percentage initially. In addition, Tightrope has seen “sizable” interest from mobile-production providers outside the U.S., according to Starks.

“Considering the sales cycle of your average replay system, we were very pleased to see such a quick reaction,” says Starks. “Basically, these were people that were just waiting for a solution that met their particular needs and were able to jump on our system as soon as we launched it.”

Tightrope says that further Zeplay upgrades are on the way via software enhancements that will be part of a maintenance program. This program will be available for free during the first year of ownership. With the addition of these upgrades, Starks sees a potential opening for Zeplay in the quickly changing instant-replay landscape.

“When we first started, we learned that there was EVS and then a bunch of stuff that just didn’t work,” says Starks. “There were solutions that had been offered, but they were either critically limited or, more often, unacceptably unreliable. I think today that is changing. This system is very fresh, unencumbered, lightening fast, and as reliable as [a user’s] switcher.”

Zeplay prices start at $48,000, and the Zeplay 8440SD is upgradeable to HD if necessary.

For Starks’ in-depth video demonstration of Zeplay, click here.

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