SVG Sit-Down: Broadcast Management Group’s Todd Mason Discusses the Rapid Growth of REMI Production
BMG is doubling capacity at year-old Broadcast Center, designed specifically for remote workflow
Over the past two decades, Broadcast Management Group (BMG) made its name as full-service media production company with experience in all phases of content creation, including live production, broadcast consulting, production staffing, creative development and event management. In recent years, BMG has grown its offerings even further with the launch of a REMI Broadcast Hub in Las Vegas and several REMI mobile units to help serve the rapidly evolving needs of broadcasters and live events.
SVG sate down with BMG CEO Todd Mason to discuss his company’s wide variety of services, the increased demand for REMI services during the pandemic, the recent expansion of BMG’s Broadcast Hub in Vegas and fleet of REMI trucks, the unique production services it provides to the Big West Conference, key technology trends he seeing in the industry, the evolution of REMI- and centralized-production workflows, and more.
Over the past couple of years, BMG has dramatically expanded its services and offerings. What offerings/services are now in BMG’s portfolio?
BMG offers sports packaging, REMI broadcast facilities and custom-built REMI mobile units, systems integration, show development, producing of postgame shows and consulting. We also do a lot of consulting regarding production operations, workflow, staffing, OTT development, etc. Our creative division works with clients in delivering programming/show format, designs graphics packages, and builds virtual sets.
How have you seen the use of REMI services and your Vegas Broadcast Hub grow over the past couple of years as the pandemic accelerated the growth of remote production?
The demand has been tremendous. BMG was an early provider of REMI services, so we have been perfecting this for a while. We were the first to design a workflow around centralizing the technology and decentralizing production teams. This allows us to put the best teams together regardless of the location of our REMI Broadcast Operations Center or the game. For the workflow for a basketball game we packaged for ESPN, located at the broadcast-operations center were our EIC, TD, A1, and replay operators. Located at the game in Tennessee was the camera crew, EIC, V1, A2, utilities, and camera ops. Our producer was in Connecticut, director was in Denver, scorebug operator was in Dallas, transmission/comms engineer was in Chicago, our graphics operator was in Chicago, and graphics producer was in Connecticut. All worked together as one seamless team.
Do you have any updates on your REMI Broadcast Center?
March 2022 marks the one-year anniversary of opening our REMI Broadcast Center in Las Vegas. This was the first REMI facility to be designed from the ground up based on centralized technology and decentralized production teams. We are currently doubling the capacity of our operation. It is scheduled to be completed in April. We are already planning for the next phase beyond that.
Do you expect the use of centralized technology and decentralized production teams to continue to grow in the coming years?
There is no question that REMI production will only grow. You see that in what NBC and what Discovery are doing at the Olympics, as reported by SVG. All facets of our industry are going REMI — news, sports, and entertainment. Manufacturers are working hard pushing development of REMI technology. BMG is a beta partner with a number of the major manufacturers, and the speed of development has been impressive. One of the biggest advances is the reduction in latency, and it continues to improve.
How have your Remote Mobile Units and Sports Packaging departments evolved during the pandemic era, and why are these still key pieces of your business (and the industry as a whole)?
The market does not have enough REMI mobile units to support the demand for REMI production. We still have some catching up to do on this side of REMI. BMG’s mobile units were purpose-built for REMI. Many of the trucks used for REMI now are full production units and not designed for REMI. BMG just rolled out a new REMI mobile unit, and we have plans for two more this year.
As a systems integrator, what key technology trends are you seeing these days in new/updated production facilities?
Our clients are looking at REMI but in different ways. One trend I see emerging is clients having us design/build studios at their location but leveraging our control rooms at the REMI Broadcast Operations Center and our staff. This reduces the capital investment on their side, reducing the amount of space needed for the control room and technical center, along with production teams. Clients pay for the REMI control room and staff only when they need the services.
Colleges also can take advantage of REMI. They can have the camera setup and leverage the offsite technical center, transmissions, and control rooms. Of course, we are still building turnkey facilities and mobile units, but the advances of REMI come into play in the design, providing the client so many more options for talent.
What sports networks, leagues, and conferences do you work with? Is there a recent unique project(s)/production(s) you’d like to highlight?
We work with a number of networks, including ESPN and Sinclair Broadcast Group, but also with conferences like the Big West. For the first time, in the 2021-22 season, the Big West is covering all of their championships and chose Broadcast Management Group as their packager. They have been amazing to work with. Many of the championships are live broadcasts, but some are recap shows and preview shows. BMG’s creative team designed a virtual set that provides a great home-base studio for The Big West.
What makes BMG unique in terms of what it can offer live sports productions? What are some of its key differentiators?
BMG brings a 360-degree perspective to every project regardless of if we are in the role of a packager, a consultant, or an integrator. As a producer/packager, we have the advantages of the support of our integration division to be leveraging the latest in technology for every project, and we know the technology inside and out. As an integrator, we are power users of the technology in our own productions, so making recommendations to our clients on what technology to use is not just a textbook decision but [is based on] real-world experience. As a consultant, we have the advantage of being high-volume producers of major live content and [having] the engineering background of building systems to be able to best advise our clients.
Anything you’d like to add in regard to the sports-production community and BMG’s role in it?
Sports has always been a leader in pushing the development and applications of technology, and we are excited to play a part in this exciting part of the broadcast industry. I think REMI will revolutionize the production industry. It is amazing to have a front-row seat for this change.”