RCS Helps Power UFC’s First 4K Broadcast for DirecTV

As part of a three-year deal with UFC, Reality Check Systems (RCS) helped fuel UFC’s first-ever 4K fight broadcast on DIRECTV Pay-Per-View (PPV) with custom graphics hardware integration and services. The highlight of the 5th annual UFC International Fight Week at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV, the 4K broadcast aired July 9 on PPV, giving fans an unprecedented view of the main UFC 200 fight card. It accompanied three nights of HD PPV and FOX broadcasts covering additional International Fight Week content.

RCS_jpgLeading up to the main event, RCS’ crew designed a new workflow that would allow UFC to use its existing 2K graphics package and up-res it to 4K. With dual-channel technology crucial to the PPV and Fox OB truck workflows but not optimized for 4K, RCS built the system with two Vizrt graphics engines linked via one main control PC running Vizrt Trio software, an NVIDIA M4000 graphics card and a Matrox XMIO3 video card — all designed to integrate with a switcher. To get the system up and running, RCS updated both the control computer and software, so that the Trio operator would be able to switch between the two channels as needed.

RCS first ran a test of the new 4K system at UFC 199: Rockhold vs. Bisping. After a successful test run, they integrated two RCS 4K solutions into the PPV 4K truck; they also integrated four RCS HD Bullet graphics workstations, with two in the PPV/Fox HD truck and two in the Fox studio truck for pre- and post-fight coverage. Throughout the 4K and 2K broadcasts, UFC made use of a 2K graphics package that RCS built out in 2015 and has since updated with new sponsor elements and other enhancements. RCS’ team provided on-site support, and will continue to update the systems and graphics package over the next three years.

“With more than 40 events annually around the world, our goal is to continuously look for ways to adapt to the ever-changing technological landscape in sports and bring our fans the most enhanced viewing experience,” UFC Executive Vice President of Operations and Production Craig Borsari says. “UFC 200 was the perfect platform to broadcast our first-ever main card in 4K and we were excited to partner with Reality Check Systems on this cutting-edge initiative.”

“UFC is a technological innovator, who has historically pushed the limits of technology to enhance the fan experience, and MMA is an ideal sport for 4K, which made this collaboration really fun,” says Jeff Heimbold, VP of Business Development, RCS. “In MMA the shots are always tight, and the cameras are focused on a smaller area, so the depth and feel that the added resolution bring make viewers feel almost as if they’re in the Octagon with the fighters, plus the graphics are crisper and easier to read.”

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