MUMBAI: Sports broadcasting is no ordinary business. Just ask Star India and Sony Network Pictures (SPN) India – who often slug it out against each other for the rights of premium sporting properties. The two high rollers of Indian sports broadcasting play by one simple rule: high risks, high rewards. From bidding for and executing marquee sporting events, the gamut of sports broadcasting is fuelled by the compulsion of making bold plays.
That’s exactly what SPN has attempted with its coverage of the ongoing FIFA World Cup. The N.P Singh-led broadcaster has upped its game to boost consumer engagement through studio-driven innovations that involve a high impact sports analysis screen and acclaimed football pundits who give a local perspective to the football field action in Russia.
SPN's panel of experts includes Sunil Chhetri, Bhaichung Bhutia, Luis Garcia, Louis Saha and David James, Ashley Westwood, Gurpreet Singh, Robin Singh and Novy Kapadia.
The channel's coverage of the World Cup also comprises shows like Football Extraaa and Kick-Off for match build-up and analysis.
SPN studios are housed in its headquarters in the northern Mumbai suburb of Malad. Designed by an in-house team, the 14-camera facility was erected in just 85 days.
Indiantelevision has learnt that the company has invested heavily in the floors and shooting gear (guesstimates are upwards of Rs 30 crore going up to about Rs 100 crore). With noiseless air-cooling and conditioning systems, the experts seated in well designed sets give viewers insights through the pre, mid and post match shows.
Piero, a 3D software delivering high impact sports analysis for TV broadcasters on a 85-inch touch screen, is being used by the in-studio experts to explain the teams’ strategy to viewers. Piero can mark and track players, draw off-side lines on the pitch, and produce a unique ‘virtual view’ of the match from a viewpoint where an actual camera could never be used.
Piero can also extract the players from the pitch, allowing them to be placed in a ‘virtual stadium’ model that can be seen from any location, to give the best viewpoint to talk about the game.
Using Piero, the football experts can break down complex positional plays by moving the players as they like on the screen. All this happens live, with a person in the production control room (PCR) as a back up. ,
The downlinking of the world feed happens either in Mumbai, Chennai or Singapore, while the uplinking of signals is executed from Singapore, Hong Kong or Germany.
The studio has European (Stype) and Japanese (Shotoku) technology working in tandem to offer an easy, seamless and in-depth experience to viewers.
Shotoku’s full range of robotic gear comprises of fully robotic pedestals, height drives, pan/tilt heads and control systems for live studio production in traditional or VR/AR applications.
Stype provides camera tracking hardware, software and integration for real-time augmented reality and virtual studio broadcasting.
The Stype kit (system for tracking the camera position in 3D space), the company’s flagship, is currently being used by global sports broadcast leaders such as Fox Sports Australia, the BBC, Sky, Viasat sport and many others.
The world feed for all 64 matches is being produced on the basis of a 34-camera plan with increased coverage, content and features in HD 1080p, in UHD and 4K HDR.
SPN’s production investments have been made keeping in mind its OTT strategy for the quadrennial event. The second screen experience (prediction, emotion meter, polls and contests), a marriage between the company’s OTT platform SonyLIV and TV, is bound to boost fan engagement.
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