IBC 2018 SportTechBuzz in Review: Halls 1-3

The SVG Europe and SVG Americas editorial teams were out in full force at last week’s IBC Show, covering the biggest sports-technology news and delivering daily SportTechBuzz at IBC roundups. Here is a look at the IBC 2018 SportTechBuzz from Halls 1-3.

In this post, check out what these companies rolled out at IBC: Akamai, Aperi, Arqiva, Arvato Systems, Axon Digital Design, Dolby, Cisco, Eutelsat, Evertz, FOR-A, Friend MTS, Globecast, Harmonic, Hitomi, IMT Vislink, LiveU, MediaKind, Media Links, Microsoft Azure, MX1, Nagra, Net Insight, Nevion, Simplylive, The Switch, and TVU Networks.

AkamaiTV was live on air from IBC in glorious 4K, showcasing a range of technical innovations that deliver the best and most uncompromising experience for viewers across simulcast and on-demand video on stand 1.D35. Edge technology solutions deliver the highest levels of fidelity, agility, intelligence, and security, said the company.

China’s state television broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV), has expanded its implementation of the media virtualization functionality of Aperi’s (stand 2.C21) IP-based live media processing platform. Building on a successful deployment over the past year, CCTV decided to grow the platform globally, equipping its foreign locations with Aperi technologies so it can produce and distribute programming in a more flexible way. Aperi also showcased a live 4K production chain that relies on Aperi’s production platform to achieve true remote production. Visitors to the show saw firsthand how deploying a software-based workflow, instead of traditional hardware-only or hybrid architectures, enable broadcast functions that can be turned on or off, as needed.

Arqiva talked about content aggregation and distribution over IP as well as via satellite. From a comfortable sofa on stand 1.B61, Chris Alner, business development director, satellite and media, said: “We are absolutely focused on our role as an aggregator of content for our customers, and not just in a satellite world. Our core demo is about fully public cloud content management and distribution.” A large US broadcaster that cannot be named, but who bought some high profile sports rights recently, is now working with Arqiva. “We are acquiring content globally, providing it back to them on multiple different formats, from J2K and fiber to multi-package HLS, delivered to them over IP,” noted Alner. “We said to them it doesn’t matter where in the world the content is; we’ll get it to them, process it, and contribute it.”

Arvato Systems (stand 3.B38) joined forces with Vidispine to showcase video editing and advertising solutions at IBC 2018. Highlights include a new browser-based video editor, exciting new VPMS EditMate functionality, as well as profit-enhancing targeted advertising solutions. The video explosion is driving an increasing need for editing and delivering video content, the company noted. Content owners and broadcasters looking to retain and grow their audiences need to provide their production teams with fast tools efficiently creating and publishing high-quality content, irrespective of location or connectivity. Arvato Systems also showcased a full stack solution for video editing across the enterprise.

Broadcast infrastructure specialist Axon Digital Design (10.A21) announced that Euro Media Group (EMG) is adopting Neuron, Axon’s new Network Attached Processor, in its strategic move towards harmonized IP media production. The deal — signed during the public launch of Neuron at IBC 2018 — will see ten NAP systems deployed by EMG’s Dutch entity United to manage IP signal processing and provide SDI to IP gateways in new OB trucks set for rollout in 2019. Neuron, the world’s first Network Attached Processor (NAP), is Axon’s next generation of signal processing designed to address the needs of complex IP and hybrid-IP environments. It fully supports the latest industry standards, handling uncompressed SD, HD, 3G, and UHD signals based on the ST2022-6 and ST2110 specifications. Neuron is fully packed with features like edge synchronizers and converters for processing streams before they enter the core router, reducing complexity in signal routing.

Dolby (2.A11) announced that the 2018 Super Penguin Ultimate Game, which took place on September 15, was streamed live in Dolby Vision HDR via Tencent Video and was accessible to Tencent Video Super VIP users in China with select Dolby Vision-enabled TVs. This makes Tencent Video the world’s first OTT content service provider to deliver a live Dolby Vision experience. The 2018 Super Penguin Ultimate Game was Tencent’s third annual celebrity basketball game. This year, former NBA players Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh joined seventeen of China’s top celebrities and two Chinese professional basketball players. Dolby Vision can deliver colors never seen before on a screen, incredible contrast, highlights that are up to 40 times brighter, and blacks that are 10 times darker.

On Friday, Cisco (1.A71) presented a special panel, moderated by SVG director of digital Brandon Costa, that dug into how IP is playing a role in “Advancing Hollywood and Sports Technology Innovation”. The panel featured Walt Disney Studios VP of technology and innovation Ben Havey, SWR director of engineering and production Markus Ostertag, Arena TV deputy director of operations Dafydd Rees, and Cisco global director of M&E, Roger Sherwood.

Satellite operator Eutelsat (1.D59) is made a bold move into the world of OTT at IBC with the launch of CIRRUS, a hybrid satellite-OTT delivery solution for DTH TV operators to launch or upgrade their service. According to Gerry O’Sullivan, EVP, global TV and video, it combines the reach and efficiency of satellite with the next-gen features available for OTT. These features include channel numbering, program information, content security, and record/rewind capability. O’Sullivan claimed that by offering an end to end video distribution platform for a multitude of phone and tablet devices, it will allow broadcasters to focus more on content creation rather than technological and logistical challenges.

At its IBC 2018 press conference, Evertz (stands 1.D31 and 1.F29) put a major focus on how its ecosystem of software defined video networking (SDVN) tools can serve the changing needs of broadcasters as IP continues to mature, as well as announced a new entry-level version of its Dreamcatcher replay system. With 400+ IP installations already up and running and the industry’s continued adoption of the ST-2110 and IS-04/05 IP standards, Evertz sees the next year as a turning point for IP and will showcase how new features in its SDVN solutions — such as Magnum orchestration, VistaLINK PRO network management, VUE Intelligent operations and control, and InSite big data analytics — can serve the needs of IP-based facilities. Evertz is also preaching the power of virtualization with its evEDGE virtualization framework for services to run in the cloud.

In addition, Evertz unveiled a new entry-level, low-cost version of its Dreamcatcher replay system, dubbed DreamCatcher ONE. The new replay system offers the same key features of other DreamCatcher systems, up to eight channels of 3G/HD, and an easy five-step configuration process. Evertz also announced the new 3RU DreamCatcher 200NZ Series IP-based low bit rate content recorder (adding ingest, storage and compute capabilities to Dreamcatcher clusters).

On the sports-specific side of things, Evertz announced that the Baltimore Ravens’ have installed an Evertz IP router and upgraded its DreamCatcher replay cluster to IP in order to drive its new 4K workflows and larger video displays at M&T Bank Stadium.
As broadcasters bandwidth requirements increase beyond what 10GbE pies, Evertz is also high on 25GbE and 100GbE, rolling out a full range of 25GbE solutions, including a new EXE 2.0 25/100GbE switch, a 25/100GbE gateway to interface with legacy baseband systems, a 25/100GbE modular switch fabric, and a 25/100GbE IP multiviewer.

Also on hand at the jam-packed Evertz booth in Amsterdam were several other new products including the low-cost Atom HD digital recorder (which records right onto USB thumb drives), Scorpion dark fiber and managed IP transport solutions, and the XRF4 high-density RF router that was previewed at NAB in April.

FOR-A (2.A51) used this edition of IBC to showcase its 12G-SDI strategy. The company, “strongly believes 12G is currently the right choice for sports, concerts and corporate events, and 4K productions,” as a result of its reliability, ease of operation, and quality interfacing. But while it showcased multiple new 12G products at IBC 2018, FOR-A is also developing IP-based products, the company confirmed. FOR-A also demonstrated its vision, a gateway to IP, as well as discussing overall technology highlights and an explanation of the company’s product strategy. FOR-A also hosted an IBC Kick-Off Media Reception in its booth. Foremost in the discussion on Friday morning was the combined benefits of 12G-SDI and IP-based technology.

Content and revenue protection specialist Friend MTS (1.A58) has announced the launch of ASiD OTT, which combines third generation, ultra-robust subscriber-level watermarking with global content monitoring. It delivers highly responsive security for the latest 4K UHD and HDR content, as well as HD and SD channels, by stopping content theft in just minutes. ASiD OTT protects live and on-demand content, and its invisibility and speed of response makes it ideal for premium live sports and entertainment, the company claimed.

Globecast (1.A29) is doing all the media management and playout for Virgin Media’s new UHD TV channel, which launched on Monday in the UK. It is the first UHD entertainment channel in the UK, and was launched after Virgin carried out a survey and found that around 30% of its subscribers now own a 4K TV, driven in part by World Cup fever. Commented Liz McParland, commercial director for contribution and global coordination: “It is always sport that pushes broadcast technology. It’s a real driver for tech. Sport pushes the industry forward constantly, and because we’re in the content chain from origination all the way through to delivery, we see the ripple effect it has, of how technological advances get adopted by sport and impact delivery to the end user.”

Also, Globecast has announced that Cinegy is helping it in the launch of the UK’s first dedicated UHD 4K entertainment channel. Cinegy’s broadcast playout engine, Cinegy Air Pro, is used to allow the building of the ‘channel in the cloud’ showing the benefits of cloud technologies in being able to launch a complete service in a fraction of the time it would have taken traditionally. Ian Redgewell, head of media management, Globecast, said: “If we weren’t cloud-based, we would have had a very hard time achieving this in the short amount of time we were given. Cinegy convinced us that, using the cloud, even UHD 4K is no problem.” Daniella Weigner, managing director at Cinegy said: “We are confident that by showing a premium UHD 4K channel can be launched and run very quickly from the cloud, it will encourage more broadcasters to do the same and drive more business to Globecast.”

Lastly, Globecast has announced the launch of its new Digital Media Hub suite of services for sport and live events here at IBC. McParland said: “Content creators, broadcasters and rights holders all need to be able to maximize the value of their live content and its ROI, and that means being able to reach potential viewers wherever they are across a wide range of devices. Our Digital Media Hub provides this level of content publishing flexibility via an integrated suite of services.”

Harmonic (stand 1.B20) was all about the Cloud and SaaS in Amsterdam, putting its VOS360 Video SaaS platform front and center at IBC 2018. Among the major VOS 360 Video SaaS announcements at its IBC press conference on Thursday were the launch of a new NASA UHD HDR channel on Roku using VOS 360, new dynamic ad insertion (DAI) and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) capabilities for the platform, and a partnership with Verimatrix’s new Viewthority content distribution platform to simplify the delivery of live and VOD content. “The cloud has definitely emerged as an efficient and agile medium for video processing and delivery,” said Stephane Cloirec, senior director, encoding, transcoding, and distribution product lines, Harmonic. “And, with our VOS 360 platform, Harmonic is at the forefront of this change important change.”

On the sports-specific side, Harmonic revealed that VOS 360 Video SaaS powered Indonesian mobile network operator Telkomsel’s Maxstream OTT service during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Telkomsel’s concurrent viewership grew from 24,000 concurrent viewers to a peak of 550,000 during the tournament, highlighting VOS 360’s high scalability.

Hitomi (2.C11) went all out and launched its new test pattern generator, IndentBox. This solution offers a complete range of test patterns and also provides a comprehensive video and audio identing system, which is easily controlled via an intuitive user interface. Video identification is achieved using text overlay, designed for clear readability and contrast against any background. It also has an HDR pattern. Said Steve Pritchard, lead engineer: “This launch of IndentBox is crucial because HDR is becoming more popular, so this test pattern generator is going to be important for the industry. This system is also easily upgradable to MatchBox.”

IMT Vislink showcased its joint collaboration with Panasonic on stand 1.A69. IBC was a first for this partnership, which pairs IMT Vislink’s external wireless HCAM camera system with the Panasonic studio camera range. In addition, IMT Vislink is debuting its upgraded HCAM/ULRA platform. The latest HCAM transmitter improves latency to one frame on all formats, including 4K UHD. With its recently announced software upgrade, Panasonic’s AK-UC4000 will include the capability for 4K output via one of the 12G-SDI outputs from the camera head.

IMT Vislink president for the US, John Payne, said the company has managed to get latency of 4K UHD transmission to approximately 16 milliseconds, giving sports broadcasters a chance to overcome one of the big obstacles with respect to wireless cameras; latency. The HCAM and UltraReceiver combination taps into HEVC compression and the unit can also be controlled via Wifi or Bluetooth and an app that runs on either Android or iOS devices.

LiveU (3.B62) has enjoyed an incredibly successful 2018 with the company’s popular products, including its on-the-go cellular-bonder uplink units, seeing wide usage at major global sporting events like the Winter Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. At IBC, the company’s big announcement was the introduction of the LU600 unit, which brings all of the high-powered benefits of HEVC 4K-SDI is an even smaller form factor with extended battery life. Mike Savello, LiveU’s VP of sales, is bullish on the product and is expecting the units to sell quickly.

IBC 2018 served as a coming out party for MediaKind (stand 1.D61), which officially rebranded from Ericsson Media Solutions in July. The newly renamed company is using IBC as the launch pad for the new MediaKind Universe, consisting of five solutions each named after constellations: Cygnus (Contribution and Distribution), Aquila (Direct to Consumer), Pictor (Video Delivery Networks), Orion (consumer experience), and Vega (services and support).

Over the past week at the RAI, MediaKind’s booth featured four demonstration areas based around four core themes: the immersive experience (using next gen codecs like HEVC and machine learning to enhance picture quality); engagement through analytics (social influencer content sales with blockchain); new applications for the cloud (using a cloud contribution network to complement — or potentially replace — satellite applications); and beyond broadcasting (focused on smart cities and smart homes applications).
New MediaKind CEO Angel Ruiz also revealed that Ericsson’s divestment of 51% of its Media Solutions business to new majority owner One Equity has not yet closed (it is officially scheduled for Q3 2018). “It’s not anything to do with the operations or business side of the equation,” he said. “It’s more to do with the complexity of…setting up a new company. Our focus is more on making sure we do it right…rather than focusing on the exact date we close. But it will be imminent.”

At IBC 2018, Media Links showcased its new solutions for delivering and receiving video, audio and data quality to and from the network edge on stand 1.C31. The MDP Series addresses the real need in the marketplace for compact and portable, tightly integrated, affordable, and easy to use platforms that enable the transport and delivery of real time IP media services, said the company. The new MDP3040 IP Media Gateway made its debut at IBC.

Media Links added TICO lightweight compression to its new MDP3040 IP Media Gateway. This is a two-channel 4K/UHD TICO lightweight compression encoder/decoder, supporting several configurations. Two 12G-SDI inputs can be TICO encoded and transmitted over dual 10GbE network trunk interfaces or two TICO encoded network streams can be simultaneously received and decoded as two 12G-SDI outputs. For delivering 4K/UHD signals over existing 3G-SDI infrastructures, the MDP3040 can function as a standalone two-channel 12G-SDI input to two channel TICO compressed BNC output encoder, or as a two-channel TICO compressed BNC input to two channel 12G-SDI output decoder.

IBC 2018 marked the general availability of Video Indexer, Microsoft Azure’s (1.C27) AI-based advanced metadata extraction service. According to Scott Bounds, US media and cable industry lead, Video Indexer (which has been in a public preview since May,) provides audio, speech, and visual-based learning models to enable emotion detection, topic inferencing, and facial recognition. In addition, Microsoft demoed how Azure Media Services can help deliver UHD 4K HLG streams from the cloud in partnership with MediaExcel, as well as a “live production in the cloud” demo in partnership with Dejero, Avid, Haivision, Hiscale, Make.TV, and Signiant.

MX1, on stand 1.B51, demonstrated new capabilities and workflow enhancements to its MX1 360 platform. MX1 360 is the company’s unified media platform for managing and delivering linear and nonlinear content to any broadcast, VOD, or OTT platform. This platform enables broadcasters and service providers to offer a full range of end-to-end services, as well as successfully aggregate, manage, and deliver linear and nonlinear content.

The content security and multiscreen video technology developer Nagra (1.C181) enjoyed a big weekend at IBC. The company unveiled its new NexGuard Quickmark solution, which offers subscriber-level watermarking to fight piracy of live sports streams. The Portuguese sports network Sport TV, which owns the exclusive rights to Portugal’s top flight football league, also joined as Nagra’s latest sports client last week. Sport TV will use Nagra’s Anti-Piracy Services to protect from illegal live streaming of soccer matches.

Also, Nagra announced that Cignal TV, the leading pay-TV provider in the Philippines, has reached two million subscribers. Cignal TVs next generation platform delivers multiple format TV and hybrid services on a range of set top boxes. “A pay-TV service can only be successful if its content assets are secure,” said Jane Basas, CEO of Cignal TV. “When we first launched our new platform, we chose Conax technologies because we were confident they would deliver — and they did not disappoint. Now, just two years later, we have reached the two million subscriber mark, and could not be more excited for what’s to come.”

Net Insight (1. B40) head of business development, Kristian Mets, said that the company showcased its new ST 2010 wide area networking (WAN) tool at IBC 2018. He explained how the move to IP-driven remote production for sports and events was proving a huge catalyst for the Swedish company. “We are working to enable a distributed media factory,” he said. “This will allow for unified workflows and structure that will ultimately deliver efficiencies across equipment, talent, and human resources. What we offer is the chance for companies to operate seamlessly across organizational and geographic boundaries.”

Nevion (1.B71) announced a new update to its orchestration and SDN control software, VideoIPath, which has now been renamed Nevion Maestro. Johnny Dolvik, chief product and development officer for Nevion, said: “We are excited to showcase new updates to Nevion Maestro, both on a technical and brand level. The name change was long overdue, as the product now handles video, audio and data, and offers connection management, workflow planning, maintenance planning, monitoring and analysis, both in IP and mixed IP/baseband environments. It is already being used by leading broadcasters and service providers across the world for these applications.”

At this year’s IBC Show, Simplylive presented its full product portfolio in hall 3.B19. The company showcased the latest developments in its range of products including the ViBox production system. With its modular approach consisting of three hardware models combined with one common backend software, the ecosystem offers different applications, including an all-in-one live production system. For the first time in Europe, Simplylive showed new addition to the product family, the Mini versions.

During its first-ever IBC appearance, The Switch (1.F10) highlighted its full portfolio of services, as well as an increased presence in Europe and Asia. Earlier last week, The Switch announced a partnership with China Unicom Americas to extend its global network further into Asia. According to Jessica Mintz, VP, marketing and corporate communications, the deal will provide The Switch customers with access to more than 100 stadiums and 50 broadcasters throughout China Unicom network, while China Unicom will now have access to The Switch’s 53 points of presence (POPs) around the world and 180+ sports organizations and venues. Mintz said the growing esports market in Asia is a prime driver behind its expansion.

TVU Networks (2.B28) talked about TVU Producer, a new cloud-based remote solution that allows anyone to produce a live event from any location, on a laptop, with no training needed. It brings together both TVU 1, its live media acquisition solution, and TVU Grid, for distribution over IP. Commented Yoni Tayar, European marketing manager: “Smaller leagues, clubs and niche sports can get this and produce their own matches. We are frame accurate as well; in sports, you don’t want to lose a frame when a goal is scored. We launched TVU Producer four months ago and we are constantly adding more features, from slow motion to replay.” It works with up to four live feeds, either regular cameras or mobile devices, and can integrate any local IP service. He added: “We aren’t going to replace the EVS guy doing the biggest events, but this gives smaller operations access to high-quality production.”

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