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The FIFA World Cup is one of the most watched sporting events in the world. As the English-language broadcaster for the event, FOX Sports is taking on the single largest production of its 20-year history.
The 2018 coverage includes 320 hours of total original broadcast content, including broadcasts of all 64 matches on its FOX and FOX Sports 1 channels. That’s more matches than were broadcast in the four previous FIFA World Cups combined. It’s an enormous undertaking.
The challenge of delivering the FIFA World Cup
To deliver the best possible experience for fans of many different sports, FOX Sports invested heavily in creating a state-of-the-art production facility in Los Angeles. The 2018 FIFA World Cup is hosted in Russia, however. This left the team at FOX Sports with the challenge of producing live content from Russia while the majority of its people and resources are in LA. Traditionally, producing a major event such as this one required a massive deployment of production staff and equipment across the globe, including either expensive live satellite feeds or dedicated terrestrial networks with heavy quality of service. Rather than following this conventional model, FOX Sports chose to take a more innovative approach that would allow it to fully make use of its LA production facility and staff.
Enter Aspera: Moving content rather than people and equipment
FOX Sports focused on how it could move the content rather than facilities and people. To accomplish this, it worked closely with the IBM Aspera and Telestream teams to use their integrated solution.
Using IBM Aspera FASPStream technology integrated with Telestream’s Vantage and Lightspeed Live products, FOX Sports can send all of the feeds from the 12 sporting venues across Russia to its content management system and creative teams in LA. The production systems in LA receive a full-resolution captured video from all cameras including those not contributing to the broadcast feed with very low latency. This enables the FOX Sports team to begin working on content from Russia immediately while the matches are still happening, rather than waiting for the entire file to get written to a disk and then transferred.
The Aspera FASPStream technology accomplishes all of this by using only inexpensive, unmanaged internet connections rather than dedicated, point-to-point fiber leased lines or satellite. The use of the internet assures the FOX Sports team that data lines are always available and helps eliminate the cost and maintenance of dedicated, single-use equipment.
Groundbreaking results with Aspera
IBM Aspera is helping FOX Sports accomplish many of its goals. A few major accomplishments include:
- Supporting live coverage on two FOX network channels and create more than 150 FIFA World Cup feature pieces
- Transferring more than 1 petabyte of HD and UHD content data over global IP networks
- Delivering content in under 10 seconds from live action in Russia to editing in LA
- Drastically reducing production costs
- Enabling production workflows that fully make use of its central broadcast facility in LA
- Creating the most captivating viewer experiences possible
- Avoiding the hassles of international travel, keeping their most creative production teams at home where they can do their best work
All of this amounts to an incredible solution for both the FOX Sports team and fans.
Next steps for FOX Sports
The FIFA World Cup 2018 operation is a great investment for FOX Sports’ future. The organization plans to use the joint Telestream-Aspera solution for the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year and for other major sporting events including NFL games.
In the long term, IBM Aspera will continue to strengthen FOX Sports’ digital content offerings with the ability to help deliver great content for viewers.
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