Case Study: Object Matrix, Vizrt Help Mediapro U.S. With Viable Storage Options

With the cessation of live sports around the world, dedicated channels and production companies have scrambled to create new programs from repurposed content. This has placed renewed value on media asset management (MAM) systems, storage, and multi-faceted collaborative workflows that have been implemented to generate revenue and satisfy viewers pent-up demand for sports content.

In 2012, beIN Sports, which produces three channels for the U.S. market—two linear, in English and Spanish, and an OTT channel called beIN Sports Connect—launched its U.S. operations in Miami from a full-service production facility owned and technically staffed by Mediapro U.S. The rights management and production services company are also providing beIN Sports with the technical infrastructure and solutions necessary to create, produce and distribute a wide variety of sports shows on television and online.

Despite no live events, the sports outlet’s staff of 70 journalists/producers/editors use nearline and archived assets on a daily basis to produce a wide variety of renewed content. This includes a series of “La Liga” classic soccer matches with new commentary provided by live announcers as a voiceover to describe the action with a new perspective. It also covers other sports, like tennis, MLW fights, and even teqball (a combination of soccer and table tennis).

“It was important to deploy a system that would not limit beIN Sports and what they are trying to do on a daily basis,” says Ismael Marcer Head of Operations & Technical Services at Mediapro U.S.

MAM Without Limitations
To support this frenetic activity the technical A/V systems integration team at Unitecnic U.S, led by Ismael Marcer, Head of Operations & Technical Services at Mediapro U.S, has implemented a 15,000-hour content repository based on a Vizrt Viz One MAM solution and an Object Matrix MatrixStore private cloud. The highly flexible combination provides fast and unlimited access to all media assets in a myriad of ways, depending upon the project at hand, and can be easily scaled up as the need arises with no performance degradation. And because object storage is the same technology that enables the public cloud, it gives beIN Sports and Mediapro’s other clients an extremely cost-effective, fast and highly scalable environment from which to streamline its internal workflows. The faster the beIN Sports editors gain access to content, the sooner finished programs get to air.

“It was important to deploy a system that would not limit beIN Sports and what they are trying to do on a daily basis,” said Marcer, adding that the Vizrt-Object Matrix solution was implemented especially for beIN Sports, although other Mediapro clients in Miami — DirectTV Latin America, ESPN, and Hola! TV — use a similar production storage system configuration. In fact, the facility beIN Sports now calls home includes two additional studios. A second facility, with four studios right next door, opened in 2014.

“We had confidence in Vizrt, knowing them from many previous projects overseas, and Object Matrix, because we wanted to implement the latest and most flexible storage system. They both had the best technical solution to fit our needs and also at a reasonable cost.”

Automated Storage Strategy
The joint solution at beIN Sports now supports an automated content storage strategy that sees them place the most used assets on the object storage array for nearline use and older assets on the Viz One for later use. Due to sports rights licenses owned by beIN Sports, some content comes with a limit time period use, so the transient archive deployed—the data is not permanent— knows exactly when to delete the content when it can no longer be used legally. This self-managing technology, coupled with automated workflow integration, enables a rapid return on investment.

“This type of automated digital librarian is something that can’t be done with LTO tape storage,” said Marcer. “It really comes in handy when you have so many assets and then new ones coming in all the time. This allows the beIN Sports team to focus on creativity and not worry about where the assets are stored. They want them when they need them, so we make sure this is possible at all times while strictly adhering to rights issues as well.”

Future-Proof and Cloud-Ready
While all of beIN Sports’ content is stored in an on-premise configuration, both the Vizrt and Object Matrix systems have accommodations for integrating cloud storage in a hybrid architecture if and when Mediapro decides it’s in its client’s best interest.

These days the biggest challenge for any sports channel is to remain relevant and entertaining to fans in a time of canceled sports activity. Mining its trove of assets has worked wonders for beIN Sports, as its rating s have remained respectable. The secret is the efficient use of archived material and fast-access file exchanges between Viz One, object storage arrays, and the editors that need to repurpose them. Stored assets are only valuable if they can be reused I creative ways that make them new again.

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