Inside Marlins Park’s IPTV System With Daktronics and Haivision
With less than two seasons under its belt, Marlins Park isn’t so much changing as it is settling in. Workflows established for Opening Day 2012 — light years ahead of those at the Marlins’ former home, Sun Life Stadium — are running more smoothly and more efficiently in 2013, attracting events beyond the Marlins’ 81 regular-season home games.
One such workflow is the Marlins’ sophisticated IPTV system, a collaboration of the team, Daktronics, and Haivision that allows the Marlins to stream live video to more than 700 Sony flat-panel screens around Marlins Park. The system comprises 10 in-house channels, 32 DIRECTV channels, and 14 channels dedicated to out-of-town MLB games.
“It gives us so much flexibility,” says Larry Blocker, director, game presentation and events, Miami Marlins. “We know what we’re doing now, at this point in time. We can take on three different hospitality events and still make our community-relations staff happy with their station. We still can make our sponsors happy with their station. … Media information up in the press box has their own station giving them stats that roll out on the TVs inside the press-box dining areas, so, if those guys want to go get some food, they’re not really missing anything.”
Daktronics Targets Street to Seat
Well-known for work with LED screens, Daktronics made the leap into large-scale IPTV-system deployment with Marlins Park.
“We have a motto with our digital-media group: from the streets to the seats,” says Janice Allen, applications engineer, Daktronics. “From the minute the fans arrive on-site until they take their seats to watch the event, we want to be a part of that experience. So it just seemed like IPTV was a natural fit.”
Daktronics’ Show Control system works as the IPTV headend source, feeding 1080i content to area-specific set-top boxes serving the concourses, private suites, clubs, team store, and more. With the push of a button, the Marlins can deliver live game video, team-created content, stats, out-of-town scores, and sponsorship messages to targeted locations throughout the facility.
“[Teams] want these IPTV systems out in the bowl so, when people get up and leave their seats, they can still stay in touch with what’s going on in the game,” says Matt Anderson, control systems marketing, Daktronics. “People are more apt to get up and walk around the facility and maybe buy different things, knowing that they can still stay in touch with what’s going on in the game.”
In addition to Show Control, Daktronics designed and installed 14 LED video and ribbon displays throughout the seating bowl, including the primary 50- x 99-ft. videoboard in right field. Furthermore, the Marlins have access to Daktronics’ data library, which allows the team to take different types of statistics, format them for specific screens, and send them to targeted LED and LCD screens via Show Control and the IPTV network.
Daktronics’ IPTV system also incorporates iPads and other tablets, which have the ability to change channels on the LCDs and access the company’s data library.
Haivision Keeps Latency Low
For keeping fans connected to the game through live in-venue video, low latency is key. Daktronics selected Haivision’s Makito HD encoders with H.264 compression to ensure video gets from headend to screens with virtually no delay. While the system has been in place since Marlins Park opened, Haivision and Daktronics upgraded the distribution this season to achieve a higher-quality bitrate and lower latency.
“There was a quality that the venue required,” says Jayson Fuhlbruck, director, partner development, Haivision. “[The Marlins] had two different instances of being able to consume that content. The first was a high-quality stream that was going to a set-top box, and the second requirement was to be able to take a lesser bitrate at still high definition and lesser resolution and distribute that for soft-player consumption inside the venue environment.”
“One, two, three strikes, you’re out. If we’re two to three seconds behind, it’s not a valid solution,” says Fuhlbruck. “In this case, we partnered with Daktronics to be able to provide high-quality and low-latency delivery, and, because we’re interfacing with third-party products that are a part of the Daktronics solution, interoperability [is] the key to our relationship with Daktronics [and] why we were able to successfully support the Marlins in distributing video across many different displays and user devices across their venue.”
Marlins Deliver Top Fan Experience
Ten Makito encoders serve the Marlins’ 10 in-house channels, including MarlinsVision, media information, sponsorship content, and Ayudan, the Marlins’ front-office volunteer program (Ayudan means ‘Help’ in Spanish). An additional Makito encoder is dedicated to video coaching, feeding the coaching offices, locker room, and training room. The Marlins have the ability to send every channel to every screen but choose to target certain channels to certain areas; in certain areas, such as the private suites, fans can switch between channels.
“We may want to target a particular suite; although they may not necessarily have a particular event, they may have some content that they wish to have on the TV during the game because they may be hosting clients. We can provide that,” explains Randy Cousar, engineering director, game presentation and events, Miami Marlins. “We can provide any content to any TV in any area; it’s just a matter of what that need is.”
“Especially when other local teams are playing, if the Heat or the Panthers are playing, our fans also have an interest in them, so we want to be provide them what they want,” says Blocker. “We don’t want them sitting at home changing stations. We want them at the ballpark here, enjoying our game and able to also get what they want to watch.”