Amway Center, Harris Deliver Cutting-Edge Digital Signage

The Amway Center, home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, tipped off its first regular season this week with new in-venue video capabilities and digital signage built around the Harris InfoCaster system and more than 1,000 Samsung flat-panel displays.

The digital signage system at the Amway Center offers a number of innovations, according to Steve Griggs, EVP of sales and marketing for the Orlando Magic. The most important, he notes, are “moments of exclusivity,” an industry first in that the Harris digital signage system is tied to the Daktronics scoreboard-control system to allow the building’s eight founding sponsors to dominate branding on every display for 40 seconds.

“We take the bowl dominance and turn it into building dominance as all the displays inside and outside display the branding message,” he says.

The Harris system integrates a high-definition video-production and -distribution and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) system with digital signage. That means fans will be engaged with broadcast-quality animations, videos, and graphics that move well beyond the typical digital-signage application. Every display — whether in the concourse, concession areas, club levels, or restrooms — is individually addressable. And, in another first, the screen format presents all aspects of the Amway Center experience at 10 times the resolution of current technology.

Combining IPTV and digital signage over the same Cisco network allows the Magic to address more than 1,100 individual screens throughout the arena with tailored content. On the fly, displays can be driven to show high-impact replays and highlights, venue messaging, out-of-home advertising, or any combination of the three.

At the core of the InfoCaster signage systems are the Manager, which determines what content is played on what displays, and the InfoCaster players, located on the back of each display. InfoCaster Manager publishes the necessary files to a specified file server and notifies the specific Player to retrieve modified presentations from the file server.

InfoCaster Player devices are individual remote systems, which display or play out the required content for a given project or presentation.

The InfoCaster system is also tied into the venue’s POS (point-of-sale) systems, allowing dynamic changes to be made to concession-area displays at a moment’s notice.

“By having all of the video menu boards linked to POS, we can change prices, messaging, and advertising instantaneously,” says Michael Arthur, business development leader, sports and entertainment, for Harris Broadcast. “It gives the Magic and their concession company a way to monetize menu boards that has not been available before.”

The network driving all technology in the Center is managed via a Harris-built control room featuring more than 800 broadcast devices. Approximately 75 miles away, employees at Harris headquarters monitor the network 24/7 via a Network Operations Center, similar to the one that manages the nation’s air-traffic-control system, to ensure that fans experience no interruptions during events.

And so far, it has been a hit with advertisers. A key concept is “path of travel,” where displays are tied to a destination zone like the Budweiser Baseline Bar or Gentleman Jacks. Those path-of-travel signage opportunities are sold out.

“The path-of-travel concept avoids cluttered messages that can result in no recall, like being at a NASCAR race where logos go zipping by,” says Griggs. “At the end of the day, everything the fans see has a ‘wow’ factor.”

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