VITEC’s video low latency contribution solution combined with Eurosport’s well-established production capabilities ensured seamless live remote commentary, despite logistical challenges of commentators and production teams being in numerous, separate locations around the world.

— Richard Bernard
Senior Product Manager, VITEC

Remote Commentary Solution Successfully Deployed at Major Sports Events

VITEC’s live, low latency solution for Broadcasters was deployed during the isolation of COVID-safe security measures, delivering excellent results for Eurosport during the lock down across Europe. It has been used at major events, including the world’s premier cycling race, the Tour de France, the French and US Open tennis tournaments, and is now used in their day-to-day operations.

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Over the years, VITEC has developed several IP streaming end-to end contribution solutions for broadcasters. With the growing demand for live contribution feeds, the request from broadcasters to reduce operational costs (especially satellite links) and the rise of the internet, VITEC started focusing on reliably delivering high quality video content to meet these demands.
As Richard Bernard notes: “Our HEVC Gen2+ codec was crucial to deliver high quality content at bitrates down to 4-5Mbit/s, the ideal number to reliably transport video over the internet. Thanks to our codecs, remote production over the internet is no longer a dream for broadcasters”.

The Challenge

Delivering Live, Low Latency Remote Commentary over the Internet for Broadcasters in Spite of Demanding Global Logistics.

Remote commentary is used to deliver live sports content to different countries using remote production technology. As part of its remote production capabilities, the VITEC solution, thanks to its ultra-low latency performance, is perfectly suited to remote commentary. The concept ensures commentators can provide live commentary while being based at home, not at the event.

For the solution to be efficient, broadcasters require latency - from capture, to playback, to the commentator at home - to remain below 250ms, ensuring minimum impact on the live broadcast. On the business side, to ensure low operational cost and easy deployment, the ‘public’ internet as well as a software player at each commentator’s location is used. As a result, no specific IT infrastructure, special equipment or logistic arrangements are needed.

The Solution

In consideration of the strict latency requirements, VITEC developed a workflow based on its existing MGW Ace Encoder to ensure highly reliable, ultra-low latency, and low bitrate HEVC encoding across the internet. Since several commentators can connect simultaneously, the solution is scalable based on the event’s broadcast reach. VITEC incorporated ChannelLink IP gateway into the workflow to replicate encoded feeds to multiple locations, or in this instance, remote commentator’s homes. The ChannelLink also serves the critical role of adding transport protocol protection and encryption to the encoded feeds to avoid video corruption over the lossy internet and to protect the high-value video content.

During operation, the live feed is received by the commentator on a customised software player featuring latency monitoring (compatible with Windows and MacOS) and then the commentator’s audio feed is sent back to the production studio for mixing and distribution. VITEC ensured a 250ms delay point-to-point allowing broadcaster to mix the commentary from remote sources, so that live feeds could be sent out in native languages, for multiple markets, from a single live event video capture.

Anthony Sachot, Director of Local Markets Engineering at Eurosport comments: “VITEC delivers a reliable, low latency and efficient remote commentary solution that perfectly meets our expectations.

Richard Bernard, Senior Product Manager at VITEC added: “Realising this ambitious and challenging project with Eurosport demonstrates the capabilities of VITEC’s leading IP video streaming aligns with our successful strategy to design and deliver an ultra-low latency video solution for the demanding broadcast market. Broadcasters such as Eurosport require an efficient, secure, low latency solution for remote production over the internet, and these criteria are successfully met with MGW Ace Encoder and ChannelLink gateway’s capabilities.

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